I’ve attempted reading fictional spy stories over the past couple of months and given up on each of them. This book, however, has taught me a powerful lesson. While I enjoy Cold War era history, it is a subject matter that proves the truth is far more fascinating than fiction. The Billion Dollar Spy is is a detailed account of the CIA’s handling of Adolf Tolkachev. Tolkachev spied for the United States deep under cover in Soviet Moscow and provided the United States with technology secrets that gave them a definitive advantage in aerial combat.
People who are looking for a “James Bond” like thriller will find the pace of this book slow. However, the appeal of this book isn’t in the action; rather, it is in the decisions the CIA made in handling their most valuable spy. Do they meet his demands or risk making him unhappy? Should they attempt to sneak him and his family of the Soviet Union? What techiniques should they use to keep his presence secret from the Russians? I found this all very interesting!
If you are interested in the Cold War, you need to learn about Adolf Tolkachev. His story is incredible and the United States owes him a debt of gratitude for the risks he took.Mini
This book is the true story of Adolf Tolkachev who delivered Russian secrets to the the CIA for seven years during the Cold War. The sheer impact this one spy had on the United States military, specifically in aviation, is astounding. His secrets contributed to the United States’ air superiority throughout the world for long after the Cold War ended and helped topple the Soviet Union. It is an incredible story. As I read the account of Tolkachev, I couldn’t help but wonder how his story ties in with other known spies of the era. People like Aldrich Ames and Robert Hannsen may have contributed to the ultimate downfall of Tolkachev and it is mind-boggling to consider the interwoven web of espionage that permeated the Cold War. In a world focused technology and “wiki-leaks”, this book reinforces the necessity of human intelligence. I highly recommend it if you are interested in Cold War espionage.
The End of Reason by Ravi Zacharias was written as a response to what has been dubbed ‘New Atheism’. Primarily, it was written to refute the philosophy of atheist Sam Harris who wrote The End of Faith.
Zacharias’ arguments in this book are logical, concise, and articulate. I love the way his brain works! Zacharias is an evangelist and apologist that brings a unique perspective to theology and philosophy. He is an “Indian-born Canadian-American” with a Master of Divinity, several honorary doctorates, and an undergraduate degree. He brings to the table a command of logic and language that is unparalleled along with a cultural experience that is uniquely his own. Because of his unique background, Zacharias writes in a voice that is distinctly his own – and I appreciate that.
This book makes short work of the philosophy championed by Sam Harris and others. Zacharias places the worldview of new atheism alongside that of Christianity and exposes the hate, despair, and hopelessness of the new atheist. As Zacharias unravels the arguments of Sam Harris, he exposes them as illogical and unfulfilling.
On a side note, Zacharias writes as a former atheist who was once on the brink of suicide. His experience seems to have ignited in him a passion for revealing the illogical endgame of the new atheist and in this book he does so in remarkable fashion.
I have a love/hate relationship with audio books. While I love the idea of them, I typically hate actually listening to them. This book was an exception to that rule. Read in the author’s own voice, Flight to Heaven: A Plane Crash … A Lone Survivor … A Journey to Heaven — and Back is pilot Dale Black’s story of surviving a horrific plane crash.
As the title suggests, Dale Black submits that after his crash he visited Heaven. This fact alone almost caused me to dismiss the book. Why? Perhaps I’m just a cynic, but there are numerous titles in bookstores everywhere that suggest similar stories. The odds alone suggest many of them are false. I’m glad, however, that I gave this book a chance. This book is less about Dale Black’s visit to Heaven and more about the life he led after his visit to Heaven.
Black’s injuries were devasting. nearly every bone in one leg was shattered and he was left unable to walk, much less fly a plane. However, his faith in God allowed him to not only recover, but to thrive amid such darkness. Dale Black’s life was changed and, as a result, he changed the lives of others.
I should add that listening to his story in the author’s own voice added to my enjoyment. I got the sense that Black was less telling a story and more sharing his testimony – at times, almost reluctantly, but at all times humbly. Black never seemed to glorify himself but rather seemed more concerned with glorifying the One who saved him from his crash.
I enjoyed this audiobook a great deal and highly recommend it to anyone who needs to hear an inspirational story of hope and survival.
In The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions biologist and philosopher David Berlinski brings a unique voice to the table. Berlinski describes himself as a secular Jew yet he offers a biting defense of religious thought. Berlinksi is critical of skeptical arguments against religious thought on the grounds that they often misrepresent the science behind the argument. He is also critical of Darwinian evolution but he offers his critique from an angle that should be palatable to the skeptic.
There are times during this book that Berlinski sounds very “religious” but he goes beyond simply rehashing old arguments and offers a fresh perspective that I appreciate a great deal.
The field of apologetics can be classified into two categories, negative and positive. Negative apologetics is concerned with making a defense of the Christian faith while positive apologetics is more concerned with attacking the beliefs of non-Christians. This is book is, by and large, a work of positive apologetics as it furiously attacks the inconsistencies held by atheists.
Geisler and McCoy spend a great deal of time clarifying the arguments of popular atheists through extensive research and quotations. In fact, there are moments throughout the book I felt they were articulating atheistic thought too well. It is not an overstatement to suggest Geisler and McCoy understand atheistic claims far better than most atheists I’ve encountered. The two dive deep into the subject and articulate the opposing position clearly and fairly.
Using atheist’s own words to frame their arguments, the authors expose some major inconsistencies in atheistic thought. Primarily, these inconsistencies lie in the area of moral evil, God’s intervention, and the atheist’s own concern with human autonomy. While atheist’s condemn a God who doesn’t directly intervene in the face of moral evil, they accuse Him of violating human autonomy when He does intervene.
Basically, this book destroys atheistic philosophy. One could argue that the authors could spend more time focusing on negative apologetics and defending Christian philosophy, however, this is all implied when not directly stated. As it stands, this book can be read in just a couple of hours and does a good job of articulating the authors’ positions from beginning to end.
I highly recommend it.
I would have a hard time expressing how much I appreciated this book. It chronicles the correspondence between Seminary professor Dr. Gregory Boyd and his skeptical father Edward. Over the course of a couple of years, Greg Boyd corresponded with, and witnessed to, his father. This book allows the reader a glimpse into their private letters.
Like many skeptics, Edward Boyd had a negative impression of Christianity (as opposed to a positive impression of an opposing worldview); as such, he lends voice to many of the most common objections to the Christian faith. Professor Gregory Boyd skillfully, and lovingly, responds to each and every objection with a heart focused on leading his father to Christ. The end result is a tender lesson in apologetics for readers.
Here are a few of the reasons I highly recommend this book:
- Gregory Boyd is witnessing from his heart. Too often, apologetics becomes purely an academic and polemic pursuit. Apologists are often more concerned with being right rather than leading people to Christ. This book offers an example of apologetics done correctly with proper love and concern for others.
- It is honest. There is no attempt made to clean up some of the harsh language or objections offered by the older Boyd. By presenting his letters as they are written, readers are given the opportunity to get to know Edward Boyd – flaws and all. In the process of getting to know him, I found myself rooting for him to overcome his objections to Christ.
- Dr. Gregory Boyd role models patience, persistence, and love. These attributes are too often missing from apologetics.
- The Boyd’s relationship with one another is special. They are able to be honest with one another over the course of dozens of letters with no hint of hurt feelings or animosity rising to the surface. This is my weakness when engaging in apologetics. Too often I get frustrated and irritated by someone’s inability to appreciate the truth of Christ and I either get angry or give up. If Dr. Boyd experienced any such emotions he was able to disguise them well.
- The transformation in Edward is evident as moves from skepticism toward Christ.
This is one of the best books I’ve read in awhile and represents one of the best examples of practical apologetics I’ve found. I highly recommend it.
This book provides a beginning runner with all the knowledge they need to get started. It offers a plan that closely resembles the “Couch to 5k” running plan that I began with and completed this past summer. It dispels many myths about running and helps beginners understand it’s okay to go slow and add walking breaks to their running. This book takes it a step further however by also offering a diet and weight loss plan.
Even though I’ve already completed the Couch to 5k Program I found myself reading through this book in its entirety simply to learn more about their diet plan. Some of the most informative information involves calculations to determine a person’s daily caloric needs and how to create a healthy calorie deficit in order to lose weight.
In all fairness, most of the information in this book can be found for free on the internet if you look hard enough. But here it is compiled all in one place and offers the beginning runner everything they need to start a healthy running plan. It’s well worth the read.
This book is a collection of essays about running by cross country coach and writer Martin Dugard. At times, the writing is very good. Dugard knows how to write and his love of running is certainly illumnated through his essays. For the most part, I enjoyed this book. As a beginning runner, I enjoyed seeing how Dugard’s love for the sport has kept is interest over a lifetime.
Though I enjoyed it, To Be a Runner wasn’t without it’s problems. First, the essays were connected in theme only. They seemed collected in no particular order. Some focused on his individual running adventures while others focused on his coaching or his high school runners. As a result, some of the essays were much more interesting and engaging than others.
The biggest problem with this book, however, was that it made me feel like an outsider. I didn’t run cross country in high school and I’ve only been running for a few months. My longest run is just five miles and I’m struggling with losing enough weight to run any further than that. Also, about half my runs happen on treadmills as a means to protect my body from pain and as a way to protect myself from the unpredictable Ohio weather. Dugard almost comes off as a “run snob” and I’m pretty sure he wouldn’t even consider me an actual runner. I may be totally wrong, but I doubt that I was the target audience for his writing.
I enjoyed the book and particularly enjoyed visiting the sport through Dugard’s eyes. But don’t pick it up if you expect to learn anything about the sport or to pick up hints or tips. Read it for what it is … a collection of loosely connected essays written by an avid runner who loves the sport.
Kirk Cameron and I are the same age. When his TV show ‘Growing Pains’ was on the air, I was in the age demographic it appealed to and, I must admit, I was a pretty big fan. I can somewhat remember the controversy between Cameron, the writers on Growing Pains, and his fellow cast members when he accepted Christ and subsequently began objecting to some of the content, dialogue, and plots on the hit show. I mean, I remember it, but it’s not like it was that big a deal to me. I wasn’t a Christian at the time and, though I was a fan, it wasn’t like Darth Vader started going to church or anything – I mean, it was a pretty small glip on my radar.
Flash forward several years and it turns out I am still a fan of Kirk Cameron. Now that I’m a Christian I appreciate how outspoken he is regarding his faith. He is actively promoting the gospel and I have nothing but respect for that. In addition, His movie Fireproof is one that I’ve literally seen dozens of times and really enjoy. So when I picked up this book it was out of mild interest at best. I was kind of interested in his memoirs considering the Growing Pain years and looked forward to reading his take on what it was about the gospel that impacted him so much that it changed the trajectory of his career. This book delivered on each of those fronts.
It was interesting to read how Cameron became a teenaged heart throb and how that stardom impacted his everyday life. Cameron details every aspect of his career from bit parts in commercials to star of a hit TV show along with the events in his acting career after Growing Pains. But he also shares his testimony and how the gospel impacted that same life. He explains why he made the choices his made and what his reasoning was at the time. I enjoying seeing things from his perspective.
Perhaps what impressed me the most was that Cameron allowed the gospel to impact his life. How many times do we see people accept Christ yet refuse to allow His grace and mercy to change them. That can’t be said about Cameron. He was willing to answer God’s call even if it damaged his career. A career, by the way, that was successful by any definition of the word. Cameron trusted God with his career and, by all appearances, has been blessed for his faith.
I enjoyed this book. If you are a fan of Growing Pains and of Kirk Cameron, there is no doubt you will too.