Justin’s #60 – A Brief History of Indonesia: Sultans, Spices, and Tsunamis, Tim Hannigan, 288 pages

November 10, 2015 // 0 Comments

Last year, I made it one of my goals for 2015 to read 60 books (which you can verify here). I’m happy to say that I achieved that goal earlier this week, a whole month and a half early! I want to keep reading through the end of the year. By January 1st, I’ll have a new goal in mind for 2016! Thanks to all who read my reviews; you’re the real MVPs here. In 2013, I made a trek out to Indonesia. From my experiences there, I have been fascinated with the largest nation in Southeast Asia ever since. A couple of factors make it a really unique nation: 1) it’s an archipelago, which means it’s made up of a multitude of islands. There aren’t even accurate counts of how many islands there are so that plays in a huge factor. 2) it is the world’s largest Muslim nation, which is interesting because it’s outside of the Middle East which was the genesis of Islam (you’d just think that the largest Muslim nation would be in that area). 3) the climate grows luxury items, such as different spices and coffee, which attracted the colonizing Western European nations. This brought […]

Justin’s #49 – The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America, Erik Larson, 447 pages

September 27, 2015 // 0 Comments

Well I’ve been on an Erik Larson kick lately (check out my reviews on “In the Garden of Beasts” and “Dead Wake“, both by Larson). This book traces the two stories of two different men who seemingly have nothing in common: Daniel Burnham, an architect in charge of the designer of the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair, and H.H. Holmes, a serial murderer. Part of the story traces how Burnham, an already successful architect, brought the World’s Fair to Chicago and then designed it to be more successful than the Exposition in Paris. Some of these details were, as I have noticed in Larson books, tedious. Particularly the beginning chapters of organizing the fair and getting committees together to plan for the different events and structures are a little bit of a bore. But it quickly becomes more interesting as you get a glimpse of all the different exhibits and entertainers who piled into the fair at Jackson Park in Chicago to be part of, by the end, the biggest event ever known to man. A good portion of the book deals with the tension between Burnham and landscape architect Frederick Olmsted. Olmstead and Burnham quarrel for superiority almost through the […]

Justin’s #43 – Unlikely Warrior: Memoirs Of a Vietnam Combat Medic, Mike Dingman, 286 pages

August 31, 2015 // 0 Comments

This really is a special book review for me because I know the author! Mike Dingman has served the military community in Virginia Beach, Virginia for almost 10 years. It was at a small coffeehouse ministry on Little Creek Naval Base in 2012 that I met him. I was attending the Musicians Basic Music Course at the Naval School of Music that, on a whim, I attended the Sunday night coffee house where Mike taught on occasion. He mentioned that he was meeting with young men for discipleship and I asked him if we could get together. From then on, we would get together most every Saturday while I was at the school for breakfast at Ihop. I have very fond memories of these times together. I remember one meeting he was asking me questions (the subject is a little fuzzy) and he told me that through all his years no one had given him the correct answer. It was around this time he asked me if I ever considered a career in ministry, to which I say to him today that I am well on my way. Mike is a Vietnam Veteran and served as a Combat Medic and […]

Justin’s #42 – Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania, Erik Larson, 448 pages

August 27, 2015 // 0 Comments

Earlier this year, Mark read “Dead Wake” and wrote a review about it here. I feel like such a copycat reading the same book, but “Dead Wake” is being hailed as the best book of 2015, and it just happens to be on Dr. Albert Mohler’s summer reading list which I’ve been slowly working through. Before I begin my review, I’ve read quite a few books this year that focus on the time period between 1880-1920 (In the Kingdom of Ice, An American Solider in WWI, the Wright Brothers, the Fall of the Ottomans, the Miracle at Belleau Wood to name a few). In addition, I listened to Dan Carlin’s podcast, “Hardcore History” and his series on World War I called “Blueprint for Armageddon” which I highly recommend. There’s something about this time period that has interested me for quite awhile and I think I keep coming back to books that center around World War I and the events leading up to it on purpose. It is kind of interesting to see that when you begin reading, you start to culture your own likes and dislikes and your reading really reflects that. Anyways, Dead Wake is about the luxury ocean liner “Lusitania,” […]

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