October Book Giveaway

Update: due to lack of interest, I’m extending the deadline.  I know, it’s counter intuitive, but what are you going to do?

The October Book Giveway is here, coming at you with a big shakeup.  This month, instead of me randmonly picking a winner I’m going to let the readers decide.  In order to win The Holy Spirit by John Owen, all you have to do is leave a funny/poignant/earth shattering comment about the church sign below.  I’ll choose from among the best 10 or so (if there are that many) and put up a poll; the readers will decide the rest.

Comments for this post will stay open until midnight 15 31 October.  (BTW, I cannot verify the authenticity of the sign, but while I think it could be real, my instincts tell me it’s photoshopped.)

Free as in Beer

Canon Press putting up its stuff on Google Books got me thinking about giving away content you would normally pay for.  I’m not an “information deserves to be free” kind of guy, but I do have some sympathies that lean that way.  I think that if you work hard on something, whether a book, movie, music, software, etc, that you have every right to charge for it and expect people not to steal it.

But, if you create something, say a book, that very few people will read and that will mainly be available in university libraries, why would you not give it away for free on Google Books (or whatever).  Give the whole thing away free, as in beer.  I’m not talking about popular level books and biographies that are going to be on the bestseller lists, or even books that are relatively new, but books that no one has any interest in buying.  The authors and publishers should make them available for students and other scholars to, you know, actually read.

The impetus for this is that I’m still doing some research on a very narrow topic and my medium sized library (~1,000,000 books) just doesn’t have everything that I’m looking for.  So, I go over to Google Books, do a quick search, and find dozens of books that would really help me.  A lot of these books probably sold less than a thousand copies when they were printed, and often that was more than ten years ago.  Plus, the majority of people who will ever read the work will do so from a library, never even considering purchasing the book.

If a book has virtually zero chances of being purchased (many aren’t even in print), then why not put it up online for free?   Not only would it help students and scholars, which is why they wrote the book in the first place, but it would also serve as advertising for the writer’s current and future work.

Bookshelf 2007

This is a comprehensive list of all the books I read in 2007, with appropriate links.

  1. Evil and the Justice of God by N.T. Wright (my review here)
  2. The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
  3. The Sandman: the Doll’s House by Neil Gaiman
  4. The Butlerian Jihad by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  5. The Amulet of Samarkand (The Bartimaeus Trilogy, Book 1) by Jonathan Stroud
  6. Judas and the Gospel of Jesus by N.T. Wright
  7. The Machine Crusade by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
  9. Marvels by Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross
  10. The Making of the New Testament by Arthur Patzia
  11. The Battle of Corrin by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  12. Kingdom Come by Mark Waid and Alex Ross
  13. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Sanctifying Myth: Understanding Middle Earth by Bradley Birzer (my review here)
  14. Dune: House Atreides by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  15. Camera Raw with Photoshop CS2 for Dummies by Kevin Moss
  16. Making Comics by Scott McCloud
  17. Dune: House Harkonnen by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  18. Getting Things Done by David Allen
  19. Proven Guilty (The Dresden Files book 8 ) by Jim Butcher
  20. Savage Country (the Last Gunfighter) by William W. Johnstone
  21. Dynamics of Faith by Paul Tillich (posts here)
  22. Astonishing X-Men vol 1: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
  23. Astonishing X-Men vol 2: Dangerous by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
  24. Astonishing X-Men vol 3: Torn by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday
  25. Dune: House Corrino by Kevin J. Anderson and Brian Herbert
  26. Dune by Frank Herbert
  27. John Adams by David McCullough
  28. God’s Bestseller by Brian Moynahan (review here)
  29. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling (review here)
  30. Bit Literacy by Mark Hurst (posts here)
  31. Ultimate Spider-man vol. 1: Power and Responsibility by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley
  32. Dune Messiah by Frank Herbert
  33. The Deliberate Church by Mark Dever and Paul Alexander
  34. This Mighty Scourge: Perspectives on the Civil War by James McPherson (review here)
  35. The Irresistible Revolution by Shane Claiborne
  36. Children of Dune by Frank Herbert
  37. Ultimate Spider-man vol. 2: Learning Curve by Brian Michael Bendis and Mark Bagley
  38. God Emperor of Dune by Frank Herbert
  39. Scarlett Doesn’t Live Here Anymore: Southern Women in the Civil War Era by Laura F. Edwards (review here)
  40. Gospel of Disunion; Religion and Separatism in the Antebellum South by Mitchell Snay (review here)
  41. The Eye of the World (The Wheel of Time, book 1) by Robert Jordan
  42. Where’s My Jetpack?: a guide to the science fiction future that never arrived by Daniel H Wilson
  43. The Great Hunt (The Wheel of Time, book 2) by Robert Jordan
  44. Heat and Light: the Puritan View of the Pulpit by R. Bruce Bickel
  45. The Dragon Reborn (The Wheel of Time, book 3) by Robert Jordan
  46. Billy the Kid: The Endless Ride by Michael Wallis
  47. This Terrible War: the Civil War and Its Aftermath by Michael Fellman, Lesley J. Gordon, and Daniel E. Sutherland
  48. The Shadow Rising (The Wheel of Time, book 4) by Robert Jordan
  49. The Road to Civil War by J. Michael Straczynski, Brian Michael Bendis, Alex Maleev, Ron Garney, Mike McKone, Tyler Kirkham
  50. Civil War: Frontline (book 1) by Paul Jenkins and Ramon F. Bachs
  51. The Fires of Heaven (The Wheel of Time, book 5) by Robert Jordan
  52. Race and Reunion: The Civil War in American History by David W. Blight
  53. Lord of Chaos (The Wheel of Time, book 6) by Robert Jordan

Review: This Mighty Scourge by James McPherson

James M. McPherson, This Mighty Scourge; Perspectives on the Civil War (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007) 260pp.

James McPherson’s This Mighty Scourge is a set of sixteen essays dealing with the origins and repercussions of the Civil War.  It is an ambitious work that seeks to give the reader an understanding of why the country went to war, how the Union won and what the ramifications were of such massive bloodshed.  McPherson is widely regarded as the premiere Civil War historian of the time and this book proves why.  Not only does the work capture the big picture issues of the war, but it does so in an engaging way that will be appreciated by academics and non-academics.
McPherson’s aims in this book are as broad as the Civil War itself.  What started the war?  What did each side want?  What were their respective strategies?  How did the leadership hinder or help?  Was the war worth the tremendous sacrifice?  What impact did the war produce, both nationally and sectionally?  How will subsequent generations remember this conflict?  He attempts to not only answer these questions, but to force the readers to answer for themselves. 
The book is part social history, military history, political history and biography.  Since the largest and seemingly most important questions deal with the causes and repercussions of the war, the social history method tends to overwhelm the others.  The heart of the book is not an account of dates, battles and great generals, although he does deal with the latter two.  The “Great Man” method is only occasionally used; rather, McPherson uses what could be termed the “Common Man” method.  More space is devoted to Jesse James, Harriet Tubman, the Brahmins of Boston and the common soldier than most other subjects.  Through these historical characters the larger picture of the war is shown.

Continue reading

Obligatory Pre-Halloween Post

I was just watching a show on TBN (I know, I know) about spiritual warfare. It was implicitly about Halloween and how Christians who celebrate it are bringing Satan into their homes, much to their destruction. They had this one guy on who said before he was a Christian his kids read the Goosebumps books which almost ruined their family. He said that he would stay out late at night drinking because he couldn’t stand to go home and hear about the horrible stories his kids were reading. After he accepted Christ at work, the kids got rid of the evil books and he stopped drinking.

Without getting into the Halloween debate too much, I would like to say that blaming your problems on a book series is pretty bad. I know this guy was a new Christian and was obviously under some odd teaching, but come on, if you’re a drunk then it’s your fault and not some books. I think part of being a follower of Jesus means taking responsibility for what you were/are and not trying to pass the blame on something else. “The devil made me do it” might sound like a good argument when you’re five, but for an adult it sounds like bull crap.

As for Halloween, read this essay by James Jordan (ht: Travis, who had some good links last year). Whether or not a family has anything to do with this day (and I don’t care either way) it takes a lot of nerve to tell me that I’m actively inviting Satan into my home by letting my kids dress up and beg for candy. I just hope such a person holds other holidays to the same standard (Christ mass, Mr. Fundamentalist?).