Tuesday, January 31, 2012

A Few Good Reads

While May Dodd's journals in One Thousand White Women are a work of fiction, the premise of the book is based on an actual event.  According to the Authors Note, in 1854 a prominent Cheyenne chief requested the gift of one thousand white women from the U.S. Army authorities during a peace conference.  The Native Americans have a matrilineal society, which means that all children belong to their mother's tribe.  To the Cheyennes of the mid 1800's this was the perfect way to integrate into the white man's world.  "Needless to say, the Cheyennes' request was not well received by the white authorities- the peace conference collapsed, the Cheyennes went home, and, of course, the white women did not come.  In this novel they do."

One Thousand White Women is an easy read that will capture your attention quickly... perfect to read on a rainy day or to take on a trip!

The Big Fisherman is without a doubt one of the best books I have ever read.  It has all the qualities of a great classic and all the depth of inspirational/devotional, modern day non fiction.  Though the title seems to give away the name of the main character (Peter, the disciple and apostle of Jesus), he's not even mentioned until page 114.  The book begins with a story of a young Arabian Princess who, through a business deal of Kings, is given to be the wife of Herod Antipas (the Jewish Tetrarch to whom Pontius Pilate sent Jesus prior to his crucifixion).  Her daughter becomes a main character in the story along with Zoldi, her daughter's young love.  Other main characters include John (the Baptizer), Jesus (of course), Andrew (Peter's brother), Hannah (Peter's MIL), John (disciple and apostle of Jesus), Jairus (an official in the synagogue, whose daughter Jesus raised from the dead) and many more.  Lloyd C Douglas does a wonderful job of expanding New Testament accounts, giving what I think is a very real glimpse of who Jesus was and how he responded relationally to those around him.  Douglas also weaves the accounts together in a way that makes sense chronologically.  While the story is fiction at best, I think it's evident that the author respected his subject matter and wanted to add to the accounts in a positive way.  This book has forever changed my view of the world in which Christ lived, the people to whom He ministered, and the ways He interacted with them.

I would not suggest taking The Big Fisherman on your next vacation unless you have mad concentration skills.  It's a little slow at first, but once I understood the role that Fara was going to play in the story, I was hooked.  After putting it down several times (like I tend to do with all inspirational/devotional books)though, it ended up taking me several months to get through.  So...it's not a mindless read, but it will inspire many deep thoughts, making you stop to whisper "wow".

Operation Family Secrets (which I just finished this morning over my Greek yogurt and granola:) is a true story of "how a mobster's son and the FBI brought down Chicago's murderous crime family", just like the cover states.  Written in the voice of Frank Jr, the book provides a good historical foundation of the mob scene in Chicago prior to Frank Sr's entry.  Frank explains in great detail his fathers work with the Outfit, his own childhood and eventual inclusion in the crew, his attempts to get out, and finally, his decision to work with the FBI.  If you like true stories of victory over adversity, this one's for you.

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