Sunday, March 27, 2011

Book review - The Vanishing American.

The Vanishing American is a 308 page novel by Zane Grey. The copy I read was released in 1925.

After the last Zane Grey book I read, I approached The Vanishing American with high hopes. Sadly, I was bound to be disappointed. The plot of the book follows a young American Indian from about 1916 to 1920. The main theme appears to be the downfall of his tribe due to the reservation system and corrupt agents and missionaries. Along the way a young white woman falls in love with him and moves to the reservation to attempt to help the tribe.

Corrupt agents and the reservation system definitely did severe harm to American Indians. The main character in Grey's book sees this happening. However, he does nothing of note to stop it. Instead he wanders tragically back and forth while stringing along the woman who loves him. This in spite of her repeated statements that he needs but to ask and she will marry him. He does enlist in the army and fights in World War One. We are told he fought heroically but no details are given. After the war he returns to the reservation for a short time before experiencing a mystical encounter and then dying of unknown causes under murky circumstances. The young lady is left to watch the other Indians ride into the distance as the book closes. The bad guys are never called to account in any meaningful way, love is left unrequited, and no heroic stand is taken by the hero.

The poor plot combined with unconvincing characters who are never fully developed make The Vanishing American a rather dull read. I would recommend that this book be placed on the skip list to free up time for better material.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Book review - Hebrews: The Journey of Faith.

Hebrews: The Journey of Faith is a 93 page book by Zane Hodges. The book was released by Victor Street Bible Chapel in 2010.

Having read several of Hodges' books in the past I was expecting the usual well-written exposition on a topic or book - in this case Hebrews. This book is not that. Instead it is a transcript of several messages that Zane delivered to a church in 1983. As as result the style is much different than that Hodges uses in his writing. The discussion is much more informal and uses many more illustrations. I found the difference to be enjoyable. I appreciate Hodges' writing style but I never had the opportunity to hear him preach. This book delivers his style and substance well.

In addition to the format I also found the topic to be of interest. Zane obviously comes from the viewpoint that the book of Hebrews is written to believers and deals with the need to walk according to the calling of Jesus. As such he touches on the reasons for doing so and the warnings against falling away. In particular I found his discussions of Hebrews 6:7-8 and 10:28-31 to be of great interest.

Hodges' sermons were well done and an enjoyable read. The message was easy to follow and the passages used were clearly given. There were a few scattered footnotes explaining some of Zane's illustrations and quotes. These notes were helpful. The book did lack any kind of appendix of passages cited. Such a listing would be helpful for future reference.

All in all I highly recommend Hebrews: The Journey of Faith for anyone who has any interest in Hebrews and would like an overview of the book and its message.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Book review - The Last of the Plainsmen.

The Last of the Plainsmen is a 314 page book written by Zane Grey in 1908. The hardback version that I read had been released in 1936. The book follows an adventure that Mr. Grey had with Buffalo Jones in the southwestern part of the United States.

The book follows Jones and his party as they attempt to rope and capture a cougar. Not a particularly great-sounding idea but a feat that Jones had pulled off before. In fact, as detailed by several detours in the story, Jones was quite the roper of wild animals. Two adventures in particular are related; that of roping buffalo calves and Musk Oxen calves. The tale climaxes with the roping and capture of a real live cougar.

I must admit that I had read a couple of Mr. Grey's books previous and had not been terribly impressed. However, I found The Last of the Plainsmen to be engaging and a ripping good yarn. The book is well written and reads quickly, I got through it in a few days. The fact that it's true only made it better for me. Well worth the time for nature lovers, history buffs, and those who simply like a good adventure.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Book review - The Road to Reward.

Recently finished The Road to Reward by Bob Wilkin. The 148 page book was published by Grace Evangelical Society in 2003.

The book is subtitled Living Today in Light of Tomorrow and deals with the doctrine of eternal rewards. The book is divided into four sections with a fifth section consisting of appendices. In the first section Dr. Wilkin deals with the question of eternal life being a reward in and of itself. Dr. Wilkin concludes that the answer is no. Eternal life is a gift. Rewards are earned. They are clearly not the same and should not be confused.

The next two sections deal with the rewards themselves - what they are and who receives them. I found the section dealing with what eternal rewards are to be of particular interest. The fourth section deals with how this should impact our lives now. In dealing with each issue or question Dr. Wilkin is careful to ground his answers in Scripture.

After the main body of the book come three appendices. I must admit that I skimmed the one dealing with the question of all believers being rewarded equally. I did find the next two to be of great interest though. The second one answers the question of if the rewards given will result in jealousy in the Kingdom. In the third Dr. Wilkin addresses the question of what eternity will be like. Having asked these very questions myself I appreciated the opportunity to read Dr. Wilkin's take and to see which Scripture passages he looked to for the answers.

The book is well written and thought-provoking. The subtitle is apt. After all, if we will be rewarded in eternity for what we accomplish for God now, shouldn't that effect how we live? Bob Wilkin clearly believes that the answer is yes and he convincingly makes his case from the Bible. The Road to Reward is a must read for anyone who has questions about why we should live a life that pleases God when we are already saved.

Monday, March 07, 2011

Book review - Story of the Great American West.

Story of the Great American West is a 371 page book put out by Reader's Digest in 1977. The book actually starts in the East shortly after the arrival of the first colonists and follows the frontier as it moves westward. The final chapter concludes in the early 1900's.

Because of the length of time covered in the book most events are summarized. Very few things are covered in detail. Although the book was well-written I found myself somewhat distracted by this. It seemed that several times stories were left open as the narrative moved on. A few more details would have been nice.

In spite of the shallow level of information, the book was an interesting read. I found it to be a decent overview of the expansion of the United States. While it is hardly a reference book, it will be well worth the while to read for those unfamiliar with anything beyond cowboys and Indians in the American West.