This is a review of the book Not a Chance: God, Science and the Revolt Against Reason by R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison. This review was written by myThis is a review of the book Not a Chance: God, Science and the Revolt Against Reason by R.C. Sproul and Keith Mathison. This review was written by my wife, as she was the one who read the book. Her review:
Do you like rhetoric? Philosophy? Arguing a point ad nauseum? Then, you will love this book. Do you like to think deep thoughts? Come across big words only academics use? Again, this book is for you.
Sproul and Mathison spend the first four chapters just on debunking the word "chance." The following are some of the arguments the authors voice:
Faulty assumptions lead to erroneous conclusions. Self-creation is logically impossible. Chance as a real force is a myth. It has no basis in reality & no place in scientific inquiry. Chance must be demythologized once and for all.
It took them 223 pages to conclude: What are the odds that something can come from absolutely nothing? There is not a chance.
My opinion—this book was not written for the general public....more
This book is subtitled "The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman" and it is so aptly titled. This book is a bit of a tangled mess. They say that,This book is subtitled "The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman" and it is so aptly titled. This book is a bit of a tangled mess. They say that, in a speech, you're to tell your audience what you're going to say, say it and then review it. Might be a good strategy in speeches, not so much in books. The book is divided into three sections: Military Strategist, The General and His Army, The Man and His Families. As you can imagine, there's a lot of repeated material throughout the book. For the record, I'm not a fan of this type of biography. Just give me a beginning to end storyline. This book could have been (at least) a third shorter if the author had given us a traditional biography.
That being said, it is a good book. Sherman comes shining through the pages of this book. He was a brilliant strategist, handed the press well, always spoke his mind and was wise in his dealings with all sort of problems and people. Although he declined running for public office, I think he would have made a great president.
The author contends that "William Tecumseh Sherman's central historical importance is derived from his role in the physical consolidation of transcontinental America." I have to disagree. Stephen Ambrose, in his book on the building of the transcontinental railroad, "Nothing Like It in the World," puts Grenville Dodge front and center of the action. However involved and however important Sherman was to the completion of the railroad, I think his 'central historical importance' is summed up by the author at the end of the first section of this book, when he writes, "The Confederacy was an idea, and Sherman trampled it relentlessly—its symbols, its institutions, its pride—bled the life out of it, and replaced it with hopelessness. That's the way to win." That, to me, is Sherman's legacy. If the Civil War had been lost, the Federal government would not have had the fortitude to build the transcontinental railroad. And Sherman, as much as Grant, as much as Lincoln, won that war. The author states that "Sherman had played a key role in winning the Civil War"—I think that's understated. Sherman destroyed the Deep South's will to fight. Using might, strategy and psychological warfare, he replaced their arrogance with hopelessness. "...one soldier caught the mood of most when he berated a merchant whose store was on fire: 'Say, did you and your folks think of this when you hurrahed for secession before the war?'" Sherman's actions after the fall of Atlanta did more to demoralize the South than any other event in those four years. "In a matter of four months, he had brazenly paraded an army of sixty thousand through six hundred miles of enemy territory, taking what was wanted and daring any one to stop them."
While I recommend this book, I think that other biographies of this man are more succinct and offer a more balanced view of his career—such works as Lee Kennett's "Sherman: A Soldier's Life" come to mind....more
I just finished If Kennedy Lived by Jeff Greenfield. This is an alternative history book, subtitled The First and Second Terms of President John F. KeI just finished If Kennedy Lived by Jeff Greenfield. This is an alternative history book, subtitled The First and Second Terms of President John F. Kennedy.
I found myself so mesmerized by the book that I forgot it was a work of fiction—so I think the author succeeded in painting an realistic picture of what a completed presidency of John F. Kennedy might have been like. Greenfield makes liberal use of actual quotes from historical figures, but not necessarily in the their real setting. This adds a bit of realism to the work.
You may not want to read further if you don't want elements of the plot revealed.
Greenfield postulates that Kennedy would have:
--recovered from his wounds in Dallas, creating a favorability bounce much like Reagan received in 1981. --skillfully removed troops from Vietnam, effectively eliminating the protest movement and all the ugliness that went with it. --dropped LBJ from the 1964 ticket, mostly because of financial malfeasance that was to surface against Johnson. --moved his brother from Attorney General to Secretary of Defense. --survived an attempt, by the military establishment, to discredit him by revealing his affairs. --by the end of his term in 1968, his physical maladies would have caught up with him and he'd be wheel-chair bound in private. --that Jackie would, at the end of his term, basically leave him to live and work in publishing in New York City.
The end of the book acknowledges that anyone of these events might have gone a different direction, that this is just one possibility. One of the final chapters is entitled A Different Country—But How Different? Greenfield drives home the point that the country would really not have been that different in 1968—at least politically. In the 1968 election the candidates are Hubert Humphrey and Richard Nixon Ronald Reagan. We're left to speculate on who would have won—my money would be on Reagan.
This is not a varnished portrayal of JFK by any stretch of the imagination. This is Kennedy warts and all. A lesser book would have had Robert Kennedy running for President in 1968 and winning. This is not that book. This book explores a plausible path that history may have taken if JFK had survived that day in Dallas. I'd give it a four and a half stars out of five....more
Few books leave me in tears like this book did at the end—happy tears, but tears. This is not my typical genre, but I am so glad I picked this book upFew books leave me in tears like this book did at the end—happy tears, but tears. This is not my typical genre, but I am so glad I picked this book up. M.L. Stedman has a way with words! She was able to make me feel as I knew these characters, really knew them.
I was hooked in the first chapter and almost dismayed when she did back story in subsequent chapters, but in hindsight, it was necessary to build up the characters and make them "real." The book seems to have three parts—an almost idyllic happy time, a dark period and redemption. I won't say more than that for fear of giving too much away. I almost gave up at the beginning of what I'm calling the dark–period, but I'm glad I persevered, as the redemption was more than satisfying.
If you get a chance, pick this book up, you won't be disappointed....more
Anyone who knows me from the "old days"—IUP days—knows that I could always be called upon to espouse the latest theory on the assassination of John F.Anyone who knows me from the "old days"—IUP days—knows that I could always be called upon to espouse the latest theory on the assassination of John F. Kennedy. In those days, books like Six Seconds in Dallas or They've Killed the President lined my book shelves. I've since come to the following conclusions about the assassination:
• Lee Harvey Oswald probably acted alone. • There are no secrets in our society. If, in 50 years, no other gunman has been identified, then it's probably because none exist. • Even so, the Warren Commission was flawed in the research, technique and conclusions.
So, it was with some hesitancy that I picked up End of Days. I first previewed it in iBooks and ran across these words that sealed the deal for me:
This book attempts to re-create a moment when time stopped. It seeks to recapture how Americans lived through this tragedy and to resurrect the mood and emotions of those unforgettable days between President John F. Kennedy's murder and his funeral... our misguided modern–day obsessions with exotic, multiple, and contradictory conspiracy theories involving tales of grassy knolls, umbrella men, magic bullets, second gunmen, Oswald impostors, doctored films, fraudulent photographs, and all–powerful government cover–ups has caused us to lose the emotional connection to the events of November 1963. We have strayed too far from the human truths of that day. A wife lost her husband. Two children lost their father. A nation lost a president... the death of one man caused a nation to weep. Half a century later, Americans refuse to forget him. We mourn him still.
Years ago, I read a book by Jim Bishop, The Day Lincoln Died, which avoided speculation about conspiracies, etc. and just told the story of that day; the human side of that drama. This book does the same.
I remember feeling a strange sadness while reading (pp. 60–63) about the Kennedy's plans after the Texas trip...JohnJohn's birthday party, a dinner party on Monday the 25th, Thanksgiving. Swanson successfully captures the anticipation we all felt (and still feel) about what would have happened if he had lived?
The author makes an assertion that is certainly interesting, especially if true. The author quotes Marina, on the night before the assassination: "'He (Oswald) suggested that we rent an apartment. He was tired of living alone.'" Marina, even after bargaining with Oswald to get a washing machine, said "no"—the author thinks that if she had said "yes" that Oswald would have changed his mind about killing Kennedy, saying, "If Oswald was not reconsidering killing Kennedy, he would have had no reason to find a better apartment or purchase a washing machine." Interesting proposition—so, is it Marina's fault?
The narrative on the shooting is riveting and suspenseful—quite an accomplishment, given that everyone knows the outcome. I found myself hoping for a missed third shot, even though I knew it's history.
The fact that Lee Harvey Oswald was a loser is evident throughout the book—I think this is the genesis of our obsession with assassination theories. We have trouble believing that a loser, like Oswald, could, all by himself, take the life of our "King" of "Camelot." That "such an inconsequential man as Oswald could change history in such a monumental way." The author does not delve into the assassination theories, other than to debunk them, writing, "They reject the proven role that chance, luck, randomness, coincidence, or mistake have played in human history for thousands of years. To them, there are no accidents in life. Everything that happens can be explained by conspiracy."
Why did Oswald kill Kennedy? The author speculates that "...in the end, perhaps the reason is much simpler and more fundamental and lies beyond rational human understanding: Lee Harvey Oswald was evil...(and) he taunts us still, defying us to solve the mystery of the why that he left behind."
The Dallas police, in a classic case of trying to please everyone and therefore pleasing none, bungled the handling of Oswald. Dallas law enforcement, afraid that the country was assigning "collective guilt" to Dallas for the assassination, treated the press with unheard of courtesy and access. Jack Ruby, a two-bit nightclub owner and Kennedy admirer, used the police's goodwill and media-sensitiveness to his advantage, killing Oswald as he was being transferred from one jail to another. When announced to the waiting crowd that Oswald had been shot and was on his way to Parkland hospital, there were "howls of delight outside the county jail...it was hard to not take pleasure in the knowledge that John Kennedy's murderer has suffered a kind of Old Testament or western vigilante justice for his great crime." Nevertheless, "most of the American people wanted Oswald to survive this day...(they) wanted answers. Who was he? How did he do it? Why did he do it? If Lee Harvey Oswald died, he would take his secrets to the grave."
Amazing, the Dallas police, while possessing seasoned investigators and interrogators, did not tape any of the interviews with Oswald. What were they thinking? This man just killed the president and they didn't record their interviews with him?
The assassination of President John F. Kennedy on November 22, 1963, is as compelling as any drama written by William Shakespeare. It is the great American tragedy.
A year after the assassination, Jackie summed up the feelings of so many Americans when she said, "...so now, he is a legend when he would have preferred to be a man."
James Swanson wanted this book to "re-create a moment when time stopped. It seeks to recapture how Americans lived through this tragedy..." I think Mr. Swanson has done this with aplomb. This is our modern day Death of a President told with the clarity that 50 years brings. But in the end, Kennedy is still "a legend when he would have preferred to be a man."...more