Tag Archives: novel

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln

This is my second novel by Stephen L. Carter. (My first was Carter’s BACK CHANNEL) — It won’t be my last.




Carter is the master of historical fiction. The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln is my second meal of his literary fare. Carter’s character development, dialog, plot and careful caricatures — provide the reader with a yearning to keep turning pages (ALL 655 of them in this case).

Carter’s historical fiction works are also educational…his twisting of historical events is insightful and provides insights into historical contexts that are absent from non-fiction treatments of the same.

Introduce a reader to Stephen L. Carter!!! They will appreciate your thoughtfulness and be back for MORE!!

About Stephen L. Carter (Excerpt from https://www.randomhouse.com/knopf/authors/carter/bio.html)

Stephen L. Carter is the William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law at Yale, where he has taught since 1982. A prolific writer who has published seven critically acclaimed non-fiction books during the past nine years, he has helped shape the national debate on issues ranging from the role of religion in our politics and culture to the role of integrity and civility in our daily lives.

Professor Carter, 46, was born in Washington, D.C., the second of five children, and attended the public schools of Washington, New York City, and Ithaca, New York. He received his bachelor’s degree from Stanford University and his law degree from Yale University. Before joining the Yale faculty, he served as a law clerk for Judge Spottswood W. Robinson, III, of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and for Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. He also briefly practiced law at a firm in Washington.



I was immersed in this marvelous book. You will be deeply satisfied you selected it as well. BUY IT! Read Stephen L. Carter!!!








 After devouring The Director, I am an admitted fan of David Ignatius.
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
BLOODMONEY is a spellbinding, torrid, breathtaking journey submerged in the world of geopolitical espionage.


Bloodmoney 2


Like fast-paced thrillers that keep you turning pages – yearning for what will unfold in the next chapter?


BLOODMONEY is for you. Trust me. You’ll enjoy the wild ride!





The American Mission – A Novel by Matthew Palmer – Review by Bill Dahl

The American Mission
The American Mission










The American Mission – A Novel by Matthew Palmer – G.P. Putnam’s Sons New York, NY (The Penguin Group).


I selected this book as a member of the Amazon Vine program – A splendid choice!

As one who is intrigued by international relations, this book caught my eye.  Authored by a twenty year vet of the U.S. Foreign Service (U.S. State Dept.) — some readers might suspect that this novel is going to be dry and filled with terms and plot the ordinary person might find less than appetizing – nothing could be further from the reality that Matthew Palmer conveys in this phenomenal volume…from the first page to the last. (Did I say phenomenal twice?)

Filled with the themes of corruption, intrigue, suspense, violence, scheming and cunning – this novel (Palmer’s first) left me yearning for NEXT!

For me, reading a book is like completing a meal. Some meals are memorable – others – not so much. This novel is distinctly memorable – written by someone who has actually lived for decades immersed in the country, culture, characters and cunning that are prerequisites for writing a compelling story akin to The American Mission.

There’s much, MUCH more to this novel than the title might convey.

A GREAT summer reading selection!

BUY THIS BOOK! You’ll love it. I certainly did! Thank you Mr. Palmer. GREAT job!

Cross Roads – A Novel By William P. (Paul) Young – A Review by Bill Dahl

The ABOVE Cover Image for this book has not been finalized yet.

NOBODYNOBODY can write about pain and the space between the unimaginable and unconscionable wounds inflicted during life on earth – and the reality of an ever-present loving, grace-filled, redemptive, triune God like Wm. (Paul ) Young. NOBODYPERIOD!!!


On September 7, 2007 I wrote a review on Amazon – for a book entitled “The Shack – Where Tragedy Meets Eternity” — “an odd title,” I thought to myself – before I began reading.  I had never met the author and had NOT requested a review galley. I read EVERY word on EVERY page. The story – from a character and plot development standpoint – was accretive….you couldn’t jump ahead or go to the conclusion. The story changed my life and introduced me to a dear man, William P. Young….along with a few dozen other folks. The book has sold over 18 million copies and is translated into a myriad of languages.

The author sent me the unpublished manuscript for his new novel Cross Roads – available on November 13, 2012 (Hachette Book Group New York, NY). I finished it in a day…well 8 hours of reading anyway…I savored this book!

I am required to be restrained here: Yes, I have the written authorization from the author to write this review. However, based upon the nature of Paul Young’s new novel Cross Roads, I have agreed to write this piece, without revealing either plot or character(s) – my suggestion – not his. Why?

Other than the obvious (release date is November 13, 2012 and the publisher desires a coordinated approach to pre-launch marketing) — Cross Roads, like The Shack, is a product of the uniquely imaginative mind of Wm. P. (Paul) Young. I have identified twelve, concrete things to share with prospective readers based upon these mutually agreeable guidelines. Here’s my take on Cross Roads:


  1. Paul Young is equipped with what my friend and colleague Ron Cole refers to as a “scandalous, redemptive imagination.Translation: Paul Young has an ability to write stories that cause creative, tangible, redemptive impacts by virtue of his life experiences, way with words, magnificent mind and incredible imagination. Cross Roads, like The Shack, will cause another cascade of these types of unanticipated, distinctly positive outcomes for a diverse and broad audience. TRUST ME!


  1. Cross Roads  is an incredible blessing. I’m afraid that Paul Young has “done it again.” Translation: This book will change readers, just like The Shack has. Cross Roads will be “a healing teaching of unimagined power” (1) for many, many people – just as The Shack continues to be. Your worth in God’s eyes will be revitalized.


  1. Cross Roads will BLOW YOUR SOCKS OFF!!! It’s infectious. Just like The Shack. You will want to buy a dozen editions of Cross Roads and pass them out to your friends, family, colleagues – and strangers looking bored or forlorn at your local coffee shop, daycare, park or shopping mall.


  1. In Cross Roads, God will come alive in new, positive, and exciting ways for the vast majority of readers…Again, just like The Shack has constructively impacted readers.


  1. Cross Roads will break your heart – while renewing hope, and rewiring unspoken beliefs about self, others, world and God which hamper your health in each and every day.


  1. Cross Roads will cause one to pause – and ponder the application of the lessons of this story to one’s life. Paul Young has an uncanny ability to write stories about where we live – inside the soul of most folks.


  1. Cross Roads will bridge a divide for many, many readers. As one author writes; “To be spiritual is to know/do the truth.”(2)


  1. Cross Roads will be a joy to read. Why? Because the story reflects the author. Paul Young is a guy who “has fun with ideas, moves them around, back and forth, turns them on their head, submits them to ironic reflection, tests them with his imagination and doesn’t get enamored with his own brilliance.(3)


  1. Cross Roads is a connector to what Diana Butler-Bass refers to as “a New Light Form of Faith” defined as those who wish to connect with people and ideas that are different, to explore the meaning of story and history, and to include as many people as possible in God’s embrace.”


  1. Cross Roads will present challenges for many readers as Paul Young does NOT disappoint. He, once again, displays an uncharacteristic, yet refreshing “verve, acumen, care for people and willingness to dance on the edge of tolerance.” (5)
  1. Cross Roads shall span the expanse between faith and belief. As Harvey Cox writes in The Future of Faith: “The wind of the Spirit is blowing. One indication is the upheaval that is shaking and renewing Christianity. Faith, rather than beliefs, is once again becoming its defining quality, and this reclaims what faith meant during its earliest years…All signs suggest we are poised to enter a new Age of the Spirit and that the future will be a future of faith.”(6)


  1. Cross Roads will diminish the distance between oneself and God. It will engender a frank, compassionate confession accompanied by a resolve for repentance on the part of readers. As Donald Miller has said, “The entire world is falling apart because nobody will admit they are wrong. But by asking God to forgive you, you are willing to own your own crap.”(7)


Cross Roads – A Novel by William P. Young. Available November 13, 2012.


As I wrote in my review of The Shack in September 2007, Cross Roads deserves the same words:

The Best Work of Fiction I Have Read in Years!

Well…since The Shack anyway.


BUY THIS BOOK!! Twelve of them.


You’re going to yearn to cross roads to share this gift with others.



(1)   McLaren, Brian D. Why did Jesus, Moses, the Buddha and Mohammed Cross the Road – Christian Identity in a Multi-Faith World, Jericho Books – a division of the Hachette Book Group, Inc. New York, NY Copyright © 2012 by Brian D. McLaren.

(2)   Sire, James W. Habits of the Mind – Intellectual Life As a Christian Calling, InterVarsity Press Downers Grove, IL Copyright © 2000 by James W. Sire, p. 11.

(3)   Ibid. p.26 – Sire’s words – not mine – describing what he defines as a true intellectual.

(4)   Butler-Bass, Diana Christianity After Religion – The End of Church and the Birth of a New Spiritual Awakening, Harper-One – An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, Copyright © 2012 by Diana Butler-Bass. P. 232.

(5)   Kleiner, Art The Age of Heretics – A History of Radical Thinkers Who Reinvented Corporate Management, Second Edition – Jossey-Bass, A Wiley Imprint San Francisco, CA Copyright © 2008 by Art Kleiner – Kleiner’s words describing Saul Alinsky. P.120.

(6)   Cox, Harvey The Future of Faith HarperOne – An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers – New York, NY Copyright © 2009 by Harvey Cox, pp.223-4.

(7)   Miller, Donald Blue Like Jazz – Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality, Thomas Nelson, Inc. Nashville, TN Copyright © 2003 by Donald Miller. P. 53.

The Fear Index – A Novel by Robert Harris – A Review by Bill Dahl

Harris, Robert The Fear Index, A BORZOI Book – Alfred A. Knopf – a division of Random House, Inc. New York, NY

Robert Harris is a magician with narrative – weaving the reader through intrigue, deception, digerati, relationships, suspense, murder, muggings and – high finance. Harris is the aspiring novelist’s novelist – consistently delivering delicacies for readers.

On September 30th 2010 (real life) the findings by the staffs of the U.S. Commodity Futures Trading Commission and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission was issued in regard to the market anomalies that had occurred on May 6, 2010.   An excerpt is poignant:

May 6 started as an unusually turbulent day for the markets. As discussed in more detail in the Preliminary Report, trading in the U.S opened to unsettling political and economic news from overseas concerning the European debt crisis. As a result, premiums rose for buying protection against default by the Greek government on their sovereign debt. At about 1 p.m., the Euro began a sharp decline against both the U.S Dollar and Japanese Yen.

On May 6, 2010, the prices of many U.S.-based equity products experienced an extraordinarily rapid decline and recovery. That afternoon, major equity indices in both the futures and securities markets, each already down over 4% from their prior-day close, suddenly plummeted a further 5-6% in a matter of minutes before rebounding almost as quickly.

Many of the almost 8,000 individual equity securities and exchange traded funds (“ETFs”) traded that day suffered similar price declines and reversals within a short period of time, falling 5%, 10% or even 15% before recovering most, if not all, of their losses. However, some equities experienced even more severe price moves, both up and down. Over 20,000 trades across more than 300 securities were executed at prices more than 60% away from their values just moments before. Moreover, many of these trades were executed at prices of a penny or less, or as high as $100,000, before prices of those securities returned to their “pre-crash” levels.

By the end of the day, major futures and equities indices “recovered” to close at losses of about 3% from the prior day…. In the course of the day, the S&P 500 volatility index (“VIX”), a measure of the expected volatility of the S&P 500 Index, increased by 31.7 percent, which was the fourth largest single-day increase in VIX.[1]

Several points from the above provide the context for The Fear Index:

  1. Multi-dimensional market volatility
  2. Programmed trading
  3. The influence of hedge funds – the potential impact of large buy or sell orders.
  4. The S&P Volatility Index or “VIX” aka The Fear Index.
  5. Human behavior
  6. Machine behavior (programmed by man).
  7. Man’s attempt to explain machine driven behavior – after-the-fact.

A fantastic book. Watch the Robert Harris interview with Charlie Rose of February 10, 2012 here: http://www.charlierose.com/view/interview/12150

I vote “YES” for the movie prospects!

Putting Away Childish Things by Marcus Borg

Marcus Borg

I am fond of this work, Marcus Borg’s fantastic first fling at fiction. You’ll enjoy it too!

The story line was pleasant. The character development was exquisite. The dialog flows flawlessly. The real-life context is uncharacteristically authentic. The story is superb.

This is a story that a wide audience can relate to. No complicated, theological background required to fully appreciate the story Marcus is spinning here. Yet, as a quote from Frederick Buechner illuminates, a thesis near the end of the book that might be overlooked: “Listen to your life. Listen to what happens to you because it is through what happens to you that God speaks….It’s in the language that’s not always easy to decipher, but it’s there, powerfully, memorably, unforgettably.” (p. 335).

Based upon the public life of Marcus Borg, one cannot help but surmise that this quote is as pertinent to the author’s life experience, as it is to the story line he crafts in this work. The philosophy, epistemological underpinnings and practice of Christianity have been the life of Marcus Borg. Formerly professor emeritus in the Philosophy Department at Oregon State University where he held the chair in Religion and Culture, this story was, in this sense, somewhat predictable. Marcus seems to be allowing his “life to speak” through this story (not that Borg could ever be characterized as one who has exercised undue restraint when the opportunity to arose to speak his mind).

“Fiction?” Maybe. Well, not hardly. The story line encounters a number of mainstream ‘faith & culture’ issues on personal, group, systemic and organizational levels. All the tensions that Borg weaves into this novel are very much alive and well today. The story provokes ample opportunity for dialog on a personal, and a group level. A wonderful novel that can be used to explore these issues further – together, in a myriad of forums.

We need more fine fiction story-telling in the faith & culture literary genre. Perhaps, Borg’s “Putting Away Childish Things – A Tale of Modern Faith” will provide the essential encouragement for others to do the same.

The nature of this style of writing is magnetic — a book you look forward to returning to digest more of this splendidly crafted tale. Yet, this novel is powerful, memorable and one that you can confidently recommend to others….as I now recommend it to you.

Something tells me this may be the first in a series of novels from Marcus Borg. I certainly hope so.

I’m wondering what Kate Riley is going to encounter at Scudder? You’ll have to read this novel to understand my question.