Sunday, January 25, 2009

The Translator by Daoud Hari


The Translator


The Translator
by Daoud Hari


Hardback: 204 pages
Publisher: Random House
First Released: 2008

Author Website
Buy from Amazon


Source: Bought from Half.com

Back Cover Blurb:
I am the translator who has taken journalists into dangerous Darfur. It is my intention now to take you there in this book, if you have the courage to come with me.

The young life of Daoud Hari–his friends call him David–has been one of bravery and mesmerizing adventure. He is a living witness to the brutal genocide under way in Darfur.

The Translator is a suspenseful, harrowing, and deeply moving memoir of how one person has made a difference in the world–an on-the-ground account of one of the biggest stories of our time. Using his high school knowledge of languages as his weapon–while others around him were taking up arms–Daoud Hari has helped inform the world about Darfur.

Hari, a Zaghawa tribesman, grew up in a village in the Darfur region of Sudan. As a child he saw colorful weddings, raced his camels across the desert, and played games in the moonlight after his work was done. In 2003, this traditional life was shattered when helicopter gunships appeared over Darfur’s villages, followed by Sudanese-government-backed militia groups attacking on horseback, raping and murdering citizens and burning villages. Ancient hatreds and greed for natural resources had collided, and the conflagration spread.

Though Hari’s village was attacked and destroyed his family decimated and dispersed, he himself escaped. Roaming the battlefield deserts on camels, he and a group of his friends helped survivors find food, water, and the way to safety. When international aid groups and reporters arrived, Hari offered his services as a translator and guide. In doing so, he risked his life again and again, for the government of Sudan had outlawed journalists in the region, and death was the punishment for those who aided the “foreign spies.” And then, inevitably, his luck ran out and he was captured. . . .

The Translator tells the remarkable story of a man who came face-to-face with genocide– time and again risking his own life to fight injustice and save his people.

Review:
This memoir mainly focuses on the conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan. Daoud Hari not only speaks of his own life, work, and adventures but also tells many stories of those he met during his translation work. This helps put a human face to the news headlines.

Daoud Hari tells his story in a very simple but a profoundly moving way. This is not a "fun" book, but it is an eye-opener to the reasons behind the conflict and is a first-hand look at what is really occurring in this area.

The book is fast-paced and always interesting. I highly recommend this book.

Excerpt: Chapter One
I am sure you know how important it can be to get a good phone signal. We were speeding through the hot African desert in a scratched and muddy Land Cruiser that had been much whiter a week earlier. Our driver, a Darfur tribesman like me, was swerving through thorny acacia bushes, working the gears expertly in the deep sands of another and always another ravine, which we call a wadi, and sailing over the bumps in the land--there are no roads to speak of. In the backseat, a young news filmmaker from Britain, Philip Cox, was holding on as we bounced and as our supplies thumped and clanked and sloshed around. A veteran of these deserts, he was in good humor--even after a long week of dusty travel and so many emotionally difficult interviews. Survivors told us of villages surrounded at night by men with torches and machine guns, the killing of men, women, and children, the burning of people alive in the grass huts of Darfur. They told us of the rape and mutilation of young girls, of execution by machete of young men--sometimes eighty at a time in long lines.

You cannot be a human being and remain unmoved, yet if it is your job to get these stories out to the world, you keep going. So we did that.

I was Philip's translator and guide, and it was my job to keep us alive. Several times each hour I was calling military commanders from rebel groups or from the Chad National Army to ask if we should go this way or that way to avoid battles or other trouble.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Jesus, the One and Only by Beth Moore


Jesus the One and Only


Jesus, the One and Only
by Beth Moore


Hardback: 338 pages
Publisher: Broadman & Holman Publisher
First Released: 2002

Author's Ministry Website
Buy from Amazon


Source: Bought from Half.com

Back Cover Blurb:
In her previous books, Beth Moore has introduced her readers to David and Paul. In Jesus, the One and Only, Beth introduces them to an intimate Savior as they get a close-up and personal portrait of the life of Jesus the Messiah.

But this is far more than just a work on the life of Christ. As He has done in the past, God uses Beth's words to woo the reader into a romance with the One and Only. The reader comes to know Christ personally, watching and listening as He breaks up a funeral by raising the dead, confronts conniving religious leaders of His day, teaches on a Galilean hillside, or walks on the waves and calms the storm.

Review:
This books gives an excellent view of what life was like at the time that Jesus walked the earth. Beth Moore doesn't cover every passage about Jesus, but she goes in-depth with what she does cover. For example, she explains the full meanings of some of the Greek words so the reader can better understand the nuances of what was being said. She also helps readers look at the Biblical passages from the point of view of those who were living it.

Overall, the book is well-written and easy to read and understand.

Excerpt: Chapter One
Our study will focus on the Gospel of Luke. In his first verses the "beloved physician" wrote that while many others had also written about Christ, Luke "carefully investigated everything from the beginning." His resulting "orderly account" began in the time of Herod, king of Judea. A priest named Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth were godly people, but they had no children. Elizbeth was barren; and they were both well along in years (Luke 1:6-7). Zechariah's time came to serve as priest, and while he was serving in the temple: "an angel of the Lord appeared to him" (Luke 1:11).

Picture that morning with me. Zechariah rose from his bed in a small room outside the temple, amazed at the once-in-a-lifetime priestly privilege he feared would never come; after all, he was no spring chicken.

Zechariah's mind surely detoured to his wife of many years. Unlike most of the other priests, he had no children. When his temple service took him from home, Elizabeth was all alone. She handled her empty home with grace, but he knew her childlessness still stung terribly. Jewish homes were meant for children.

Zechariah took extra care to smooth out the white linen fabric and carefully tie the stash of his priestly garments. Not all the priests took their responsibilities so soberly, but Zechariah was a righteous man.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Genesis Thru Numbers by Tremper Longman


Genesis Thru Numbers


QuickNotes Simplified Bible Commentary Series, Vol. 1: Genesis Thru Numbers
by Tremper Longman


Trade Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: Barbour Publishing
First Released: 2009


Source: Netgalley, online ARC from publisher

Back Cover Blurb:
Here's an accessible reference that aids personal Bible study or Sunday school preparation-the QuickNotes Simplified Bible Commentary, designed for the everyday Christian, not the scholar. The sixth volume to release in the 12-volume set covers Genesis through Numbers, and gives you section-by-section commentary on the flow and theme of each book, as well as historical and literary context for each. Major interpretations are presented for controversial passages and topics. Puzzling passages and Bible practices are explained, and charts and diagrams further aid your understanding. "Take Home" segments provide a practical application for each passage.

Review:
This commentary breaks each book into sections and identifies the location and length of time taken for each event. The meaning of the Hebrew words are sometimes examined in-depth so that the reader can accurately understand how Hebrew readers would have understood the words and verses. The commentary also briefly covers the different prevailing views of various verses. The commentators tend to lean toward the plain reading of the verses, but they rarely take a definitive stand.

The text occasionally notes relevant archeological information, and maps and charts are included. Overall, "Genesis thru Numbers" is a good, basic commentary.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The American Patriot's Almanac by Bennett and Cribb


The American Patriot's Almanac


The American Patriot's Almanac
by William J. Bennett and John T.E. Cribb


Hardback: 516 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2008

Buy from Amazon


Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Blurb:
365 reasons to love America!

The fife and drum of history mark the time of each passing day. And within their cadence, personalities, conflicts, discoveries, ideas, and nations peal and fade. American history is no different. From the starving time of Jamestown during the Winter of 1609, through the bloody argument of the Civil War, and to today, the United States is a tale best told one day at a time.

Best-selling author and educator Dr. William J. Bennett is a master of the story that is the United States. And in The American Patriot's Almanac, Bennett distills the American drama into three hundred sixty-five entries-one for each day of the year. Fascinating in its detail and singular in its grasp of the big themes, Bennett's Almanac will make anyone a fan of history, assembling even some of the most obscure details. Even better, it will make of everyone a patriot.

Review:
I think this book would be a great gift for history buffs, people who like history trivia, and anyone interested in “firsts” (when a technology or event first happened). Each day, you read a page essay on some important event that happened in American history (including science, military, government, and sports) on this day. At the end of the essay, a list of four to seven events that happened on this day is listed. There are also sections at the end of most of the months that cover things like Flags of the Revolutionary War, How the Declaration of Independence was Written and Signed, The Gettysburg Address, and Songs of American Patriotism.

This book helped the facts of history come alive for me. For example, I knew that the Pilgrims began coming ashore at Plymouth, Massachusetts on December 21, 1620, but reading this entry while looking out at freezing cold weather (and I’m in the south!) gave the fact totally new dimensions. I also enjoyed the frequent quotes given from people in those events. It’s interesting to see how they viewed the events happening around them.

The book is well-written, easy to read, and easy to understand. Overall, I’d recommend this book to anyone interested in the history of the United States of America.

Excerpt:
January 6 - Samuel Morse Starts a Communications Revolution

As a young man, Samuel Morse set out to become a famous painter. His ambition was "to rival the genius of a Raphael, a Michelangelo, or a Titan." He studied at the Royal Academy in London and won acclaim by painting portraits of men such as President James Monroe and the Marquis de Lafayette.

In 1832, onboard a ship crossing the ocean, Morse heard another passenger describe how electricity could pass instantly over any length of wire. He began to wonder: Could messages be sent over wires with electricity? He rushed back to his cabin, took out his drawing book, and began to sketch out his idea for a telegraph.

He knew little about electricity, but he learned as he went. He used a homemade battery and parts from an old clock to build his first models. He developed a code of long and short electrical impulses--"dots" and "dashes"--to represent letters. His invention raised the interest of Alfred Vail, a machinist who became his partner.

On January 6, 1838, the inventors were ready to test their device over two miles of wire at the Vail family ironworks in New Jersey. Vail's father scribbled "A patient waiter is no loser" on a piece of paper and handed it to his son. "If you can send this and Mr. Morse can read it at the other end, I shall be convinced," he said. A short time later, his words came out on the receiving end.

On May 24, 1844, an amazed crowd in the Supreme Court chambers in Washington, D.C., watched Samuel Morse demonstrate his telegraph by sending a message over a wire to Baltimore, 35 miles away. In Morse code, he tapped out a quote from the Bible: What hath God wrought!

Soon telegraph lines linked countries and continents, and the word entered the age of modern communication.


AMERICAN HISTORY PARADE

1759 George Washington and Martha Dandridge Custis are married.

1838 Samuel Morse conducts a successful demonstration of his telegraph near Morristown, New Jersey.

1912 New Mexico becomes the forty-seventh state.

1942 The Pan American Airways Pacific Clipper arrives in New York City to complete the first round-the-world trip by a commercial airplane.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Review Guidelines

I'M INTERESTED IN
For this book review blog, I'm interested in nonfiction books discussing how people used to live in the past and how people now live in other cultures or religions. I especially like books told from the viewpoint of someone who lived it (memoirs, biographies, or books containing quotes from diaries or personal logs). I also review general history, social issue, military, and other non-fiction books here, but please e-mail me (dkwhite (at) ritternet (dot) com) before sending them for review so I can tell you if I'm interested.

Please note, I'm under no obligation to review the book even if you send it. I'm also under no obligation to give the book a good review. However, I do review every book that I request.

I post my book reviews here, on Amazon, and on Goodreads. I also Twitter about them as I read them.



I'M NOT INTERESTED IN
This blog is mainly for reviewing non-fiction books, so please go to my Genre Reviews blog if you wish to have your novel reviewed or to my ChristFocus Book Club blog if you want your Christian non-fiction book reviewed.


WHAT HAPPENS TO THE REVIEW COPIES
When I'm done reading a review copy sent to me by a publisher, author, or publicist, I either run a giveaway for it on my blog or donate it to my local jail or a state prison.