Apostate, the Men who Destroyed the Christian West by Kevin Swanson

Author Kevin Swanson is attempting to trace the philosophical and literary threads that have shaped our modern Western civilization.  He believes that the ideas created by certain influential thinkers and authors are responsible for the destruction of the Christian West.  These ideas are now being popularized by influencial forms of media and entertainers and absorbed by the majority of people.  The result is a perfect storm that will result in the collapse of the world system as we know it. Swanson focuses his attention on numerous philosophers from Thomas Aquinas to Karl Marx, Charles Darwin and Friedrich Nietzsche, and five literary giants: Shakespeare, Hawthorne, Twain, Hemingway and Steinbeck who he holds responsible for the present apostasy, the rise of humanism and the decline of Western civilization (pp. 3, 19).  He calls these men Nephilm after the corrupt giants who lived before the flood (p. 18).  Surprisingly, Thomas Aquinas is...

Renaissance People, Lives that Shaped the Modern Age by Robert C. Davis and Beth Lindsmith

In this beautiful volume, almost one third of which is reprints of original Renaissance art and portraits, the authors introduce the reader to short biographies of 94 of the most important people of the European Renaissance era (1450-1550). Excellent articles are included on everything from popes to prostitutes, kings to jesters, artists to explorers, Reformation leaders to scientists and much more. Specifically, some of the best known names include: Jan Hus, Leonardo da Vinci, Columbus, Erasmus, Machiavelli, Copernicus, Raphael, Thomas More, Luther, Titan, Tyndale, Xavier, Calvin, and St. Teresa of Avila. The Renaissance represents the “cultural rebirth started in the Italian peninsula, where the rediscovery of forgotten Latin letters led to a renewed interest in the Classical study of humanity and its place in the natural world. Its disciples called themselves humanists… superstition and custom for new literature, new science, new societies and, finally, the New World itself”...

Undaunted Courage by Stephen E. Ambrose

This is a most wonderful account of the Lewis and Clark expedition focusing primarily on Meriwether Lewis. The book, which reads like a novel, is just overflowing with information and details including a few maps and pictures. It would be hard to imagine a better rendering of this famous American adventure. For those who enjoy history and/or exciting tales, this is a must read....

The Meaning of History by Ronald H. Nash

This is an excellent book, for the most part, not on history itself but on the philosophy of history. Nash details the major views of history held by historians, theologians, and philosophers which he lumps into three basic categories: the linear pattern in which history has a goal toward which it is advancing; the cyclical theory that understands history as constantly repeating itself; and the spiral theory of Toynbee that combines the linear and cyclical into a view in which there is a certain repetition in history but also a progress toward a goal. A few thinkers reject all three patterns and opt for a chaotic view that states history has no pattern or meaning. Nash believes that the linear theory is the one most in line with Scripture and Christian theology. The three major theories, as well as the key shapers of these theories, is the subject of...

The Greeks, Crucible of Civilization by Paul Cartledge

Greek history has always fascinated me, so when I stumbled across an intriguing PBS documentary by the above title, I just had to have the accompanying book. Unfortunately this is one of those rare cases when the movie is better than the book, although not by much. Actually the book is very interesting, full of facts and information worthy of note. But I was not particularly fond of the format, which was arranged by personalities rather than the actual flow of history and events. The result was, in effect, 15 short biographies of famous (and a few not so famous) Greeks from Homer to Alexander the Great. Along the way you will find numerous wonderful pictures that will help bring the times alive....

The Education of Henry Adams by Henry Adams

That the autobiography of a relatively obscure individual would be considered perhaps the greatest of all autobiographies (by many critics) was intriguing to me. I thought that I might give it a read. What I found surprised me. Henry Adams, a grandson of John Quincy Adams, was a brilliant man who lived a long time, from 1838 to 1914, had great potential and for the most part accomplished very little. He was a writer and historian but was content with what he termed “education” not action. By education he seemed to mean that he was an observer, a learner. He studied life, often from a detached point of view – he seldom entered the contest himself. In the process of educating, Henry Adams nurtured his already inherent pessimism about life, people, politicians and even himself. So what is the draw of this book? Well, first Adam was an excellent...

Patriots, the Men Who Started the American Revolution by A. J. Langguth

There have been countless books written on the American Revolution, but they tend to fall into two categories: rather boring textbooks or centered around the life of a single event or personality such as Washington or Jefferson. Langguth felt, “There seemed to be a place for a book that approached the revolution as a story, focusing on the principal actors as they moved from the writs-of-assistance trial in 1761 to General Washington’s resignation from the Continental Army in 1783.” So our author wrote such a book and it is a beauty. If you like history you will love Patriots ....

Endurance, Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage by Alfred Lansing

A well written historical account beats fiction just about any time — in my estimation, and Endurance is just such a historical account. It is the story of Sir Ernest Shackleton’s 1914 attempt to cross the Antarctic overland. Unfortunately, his ship was trapped and crushed by ice, forcing him and his men to attempt to survive on drifting snow packs for months, hibernate on a deserted stretch of land, attempt a thousand mile ocean voyage in a small boat across the world’s worst seas, and then make an impossible trek overland — all in order to survive. The hardships faced by these men, the courage and tenacity in the face of danger is all but unbelievable. “Endurance” is truly a good name for this book — just don’t read it in the winter....