Justin’s #46 – In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin , Erik Larson, 448 pages

September 14, 2015 // 0 Comments

Doesn’t the saying go, “hindsight is 20/20”? It is easy for us, knowing how a little of the story goes, to be overtly critical of Germans living in the 1930’s. We ask questions like “why didn’t they do anything?” Or why didn’t someone do something? Erik Larson gives us a really interesting look into the early Nazi German mindset as Adolf Hitler rose to power. “Beasts” is essentially about two intertwining characters: William Dodd and his daughter, Martha Dodd. William was a history professor before being tapped for ambassador to Germany in early 1933. Taking his family with him, he set sail for Germany and set up camp in Berlin. The ensuing story focuses on Dodd’s work as ambassador and Martha’s love life in Nazi Germany before the start of the world war. It’s interesting to note that even in 1933, Roosevelt and others thought that Hitler’s regime would ultimately cave to economic pressures. The seeming urgency of what was to come was no where to be found. Even the roots of his anti-Semitic crusade were apparent in this year, as Martha recounts a day trip to Nuremberg to see a German woman harassed through the streets by Nazi “Schutzstaffel” […]

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,” […]

Justin’s #40 – In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette, Hampton Sides, 480 pages

August 18, 2015 // 0 Comments

James Gordon Bennett became a wealthy man in journalism. He started the paper the “New York Herald,” which came to fame when he sent a reporter to the jungles of Africa to find one Dr. Livingston. Since then, Bennett used his wealth to fund expeditions to equal that level of press. That’s when he began a relationship with George Washington Delong. DeLong graduated from the Naval Academy and was greatly influenced by the exploratory mission of the U.S.S. Polaris, which sailed towards the North Pole in the name of science. Her hull was crushed by the ice and the men mutinied against Captain Francis Hall before being rescued many months later (after Hall was poisoned). DeLong was captivated by the arctic and set about to fund a mission to exceed the distance the Polaris made in exploring the outer reaches of the North Pole. In an age where there were no cell phones, google earth, computers, or satellites, DeLong’s mission was tantamount to what space exploration is to us today. The amount of preparation that had to go into funding and establishing a mission to the Arctic Circle was not only costly, but could be very dangerous. DeLong did his […]

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