Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Terrify No More by Gary A. Haugen

Terrify No More

Terrify No More
by Gary A. Haugen and Gregg Hunter

Hardback: 240 pages
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
First Released: 2005

International Justice Mission website
Buy from Amazon

Source: Bought from Half.com

Book Description (from the publisher's website):
In a small village outside of Phnom Pehn, little children as young as five years old were forced to live as sex slaves. Day after day their hope was slipping away.

Tireless workers from International Justice Mission (IJM) infiltrated the ring of brothels and gathered evidence to free the children. Headed up by former war-crimes investigator Gary Haugen, IJM faced impossible odds-police corruption, death threats, and mission-thwarting tip-offs. But they used their expert legal finesse and high-tech investigative techniques to save the lives of 37 young girls and secured the arrest and conviction of several perpetrators. Terrify No More focuses on this dramatic rescue story, and uses flashbacks to tell those of many other victims who were given a second chance at life.

Terrify No More is a gripping, well-written nonfiction book about a number of rescues the International Justice Mission has done. The main focus of the book is their attempt to rescue 40 children under the age of 14 from forced prostitution in a village near Phnom Pehn in Cambodia.

While the book is clearly about International Justice Mission's work, I felt like the main focus was raising people's awareness about modern slavery and injustice. It covered much of the same information as Sex Trafficking: Inside the Business of Modern Slavery, but it describes less graphic violence and is less technical.

The book describes IJM rescues of forced prostitutes, bonded slaves, and illegally imprisoned people worldwide. It details how the IJM team finds out about cases, gathers evidence, works with the local police to stage a raid, helps to prosecute the perpetrators, and finds aftercare facilities (and what they're like) for the victims. It also describes how victims can end up in these situations and what can be done to stop it.

The International Justice Mission is a Christian organization and the author does talk about how his faith influenced his decisions, but he does not assume the reader is Christian. I think Christians and non-Christians alike will enjoy this book.

I found the book a very inspiring page-turner that made me really appreciate the freedoms we tend to take for granted. If you like thrillers or are interested in undercover detective work or in humanitarian work, you'll probably enjoy reading this book. Overall, I'd highly recommend it.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter Thirty-Seven
The lead lawyer in these police training programs and other casework in Latin America has been our brilliant colleague from Puerto Rico, Jamie Farrant. He directs extensive IJM casework in Peru, Honduras, Mexico, and Bolivia in partnership with indigenous human rights organizations. Recently, case referrals have forced Jaime to also enter the ugly world of sex trafficking that exploits young girls trying to see a better life for their families. While conducting investigations with Robert Earle along the Mexico-Guatemala border, Jaime had to join Robert in playing the part of a sexual predator, and as he shared with me back at HQ about the experience, the agony for Jamie of drawing near to such pain was palpable. It ran very rough over Jamie's huge and compassionate heart.

"Each night becomes more difficult...once again brothel hopping, once again to look for girls, once again to pretend I enjoy doing this, once again a pedophile," Jamie explained. "Once again, we go out until 3:00 A.M. What a disgusting life...."

"One week of doing this is just too long, but what about the victims? What do we do about those girls who cry daily while they put on their masks? How much harder for them when they're only teenagers? How much harder when they recall that they were deceived into coming to this crowded but lonely and heartless place?"

It's the struggle we all experience at IJM when we encounter the world of the victim....

"One of the hard parts of posing as a pedophile," Robert Earle said, "is actually asking the questions of the pimps, using language you don't normally use, talking about things you just don't talk about.

"I need to get the pimp on tape telling me what the girls will do, what sex acts they can perform, and I have to be explicit with him. Of course, that's very unnatural, but it has to appear natural in order to get the evidence we need."

I know from my experience in Svay Pak that those pictures don't quickly fade from one's memory. It is nauseatingly uncomfortable to play the role. But such are the sacrifices my colleagues make--hearts that cannot remain unbroken, minds that now store images that can't be easily erased. And they continue to place themselves voluntarily in these situations where the thick, heavy darkness is palpable. They do it because they know their temporary presence in that underworld may be the only hope innocent victims have of seeing the light of freedom and experiencing the joy of rescue.

Read chapter one.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Book Quotes: Sunni Religious Leadership

From My Hope for Peace by Jehan Sadat (page 34-35):

This brings me to my next point: there is no Islamic pope who can speak on behalf of all the faithful, and in the majority Sunni tradition no ecclesiastical hierarchy that might constitute an Islamic version of "the Church." Occasionally I hear Al-Azhar, the ancient university in Cairo and the leading center of Sunni tradition, likened to the Vatican, but this is inaccurate. Islamic sheikhs and imams are not analogous to Christian preachers or priests or Jewish rabbis. In Sunni Islam, a sheikh is a religious scholar, and an imam is one who has been chosen to lead the believers in prayer--a selection resulting from the imam's knowledge of the Qur'an, his age, and his stature within the community. Sheikhs and imams do not act as intercessors, and Muslims are under no obligation to obey them. The individual's relationship with God is a direct one. Some Muslims may be better qualified to interpret Muslim doctrine or practice--the traditions of scholarship surrounding the Qur' an are multiple, complex, and ancient--nevertheless, all Muslims are fundamentally equal.

Somewhat ironically, it is this sort of decentralization of authority that may account for part of the reason that Americans and Europeans believe that Muslim leaders have failed to speak out against terrorism. In fact, Muslims have--but such statements arrive from many quarters. After 9/11, after the bombings in London, Madrid, and elsewhere where innocent blood has been spilled, Muslims have issued condemnations.

[Note: When she says, "Christianity" or "the Church," she's referring to Catholic Christianity.]

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

And the winner (of Weave) is...

It's time to announce the winner for my copy of "The Weave of My Life" by Urmila Pawar. Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winner is:

Rebecca N.

Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always join in the fun by buying a copy of this book from Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

And the winners (for Detectives) are...

It's time to announce the five winners of "Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts" by Cici McNair. This was a very popular giveaway, with 45 valid entries between this blog and Twitter! Using a random number generator and numbering the entrants in the order I received them, the winners are:


Congratulations! I'll be contacting you for your address.

For those who didn't win, you can always join in the fun by buying a copy of this book from Amazon or your favorite bookstore.

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks by Guy Howard

No Cover Available

Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks
by Guy Howard

Hardback: 273 pages
Publisher: Harper & Brothers
First Released: 1944

Buy from Amazon

Source: A home library

Back Cover Description:
[Referring to the 1940s] Guy Howard is known to thousands of mountain people in northern Arkansas and southern Missouri as the Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks. For the past ten years, Mr. Howard has walked an average of four thousand miles a year; his salary has averaged fourteen dollars a month. He has served dozens of pastorless communities in the Ozark area as pastor, teacher, music director, confessor, and general adviser on matters of every description. Without thought of recompense, distance or dangers, he is at the beck and call of these mountain people all hours of day and night.

"Layin' away gran'pappy," taking the place of the proverbial shotgun [as in a shotgun wedding], revival meetings, building the schoolhouse--these and other homespun stories are told with forceful simplicity, honest religion and against a setting about which most Americans know little.

Walkin' Preacher of the Ozarks is a missionary memoir. Howard traveled all over southern Missouri and into some parts of northern Arkansas. The main reason I read this book was because I live in the Ozarks in one of the areas he traveled through, and I know some people who lived in this area at the time Brother Howard was here.

It's a fun book with enjoyable stories. It wasn't a typical missionary memoir since he rarely talks about consulting God concerning his decisions on where to work or preach. In fact, at the very end of the book, several of his decisions seemed really odd and he never explained why he made them. But the stories were interesting and often amusing--a look into back-woods Ozark life in the 1930's and early 1940's.

Howard tells his story in a linear fashion. There were black and white photos of some of the churches he mentions. A map of the area and the mentioned towns would have been nice. Overall, it's a good book that would probably interest people who live in the Ozarks or who are interested in "back woods life" stories.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
The creaking cultivator dropped into lagging tempo and the halting movements of the mules warned of nearness to the fences. One more trip completed. One more row nearer harvest.

Corn grows tall in Iowa--after it is cultivated. And before the sun's downing, irrespective of the importance of a Memorial Day speech, all the grayish earth between rows of greening blades must reveal the rich black of fresh-turned loam.

Tomorrow would be Memorial Sunday, and there remained so little time to do so many things. Important things they were too, for farms do not run themselves and become successful, even in Lucas County. And I, the district schoolteacher, wanted more than anything else in the world to be a successful farmer; was willing to slave for the necessary capital with a singleness of purpose in diligent industry--aided, of course, by the span of mules borrowed from Uncle Doras Baker.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Book Quote: Meek is not Weak

From The Road to Unafraid by Captain Jeff Struecker with Dean Merrill (pp. 77-78):

Both of us knew that in the army culture, a lot of people look down on a soldier who's a Christian, thinking he's automatically weaker than the rest. He is assumed to be too compassionate and distracted with moral restrictions to be tough, that the enemy on the battlefield can exploit his weakness more easily.

I don't buy that point of view for an instant. As far as I'm concerned, the soldier with a moral foundation is stronger than the one without....You have more stamina to endure difficulties and persecution.

I made it my goal to be the toughest, most competent soldier around--as a Christian. I would not be weak, but rather meek. The two words sound similar, but they're not. Meekness means having tremendous strength but intentionally placing it under the control of something else. I would develop my strength and place it under the control of Jesus Christ.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Giveaway: The Weave of My Life

Book Bloggers Appreciation Week is going strong, and here's another giveaway to celebrate books and readers (including book bloggers)!

I'm holding a giveaway for my hardback review copy of The Weave of My Life: A Dalit Woman's Memoirs by Urmila Pawar. You can learn more about the book by reading my review.

This contest is open to USA and Canada residents.

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "@genrereviewer Enter me to win THE WEAVE OF MY LIFE. The title of another book from @ColumbiaUP is ________." (Of course, you need to fill in the title of another book published by Columbia University Press. Hint: look here.)


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered and giving the title of another book published by Columbia University Press.

The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner at noon (Central Time, Daylight Savings Time) on September 23, 2009 on this blog. If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your shipping address.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

The Weave of My Life by Urmila Pawar

No Cover Picture Available

The Weave of My Life
by Urmila Pawar

Hardback: 320 pages
Publisher: Columbia University Press
First Released: 2003

Buy from Amazon

Source: Review copy from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Activist and award-winning writer Urmila Pawar recounts three generations of Dalit women who struggled to overcome the burden of their caste. Dalits, or untouchables, make up India's poorest class. Forbidden from performing anything but the most undesirable and unsanitary duties, for years Dalits were believed to be racially inferior and polluted by nature and were therefore forced to live in isolated communities.

Pawar grew up on the rugged Konkan coast, near Mumbai, where the Mahar Dalits were housed in the center of the village so the upper castes could summon them at any time. As Pawar writes, "the community grew up with a sense of perpetual insecurity, fearing that they could be attacked from all four sides in times of conflict. That is why there has always been a tendency in our people to shrink within ourselves like a tortoise and proceed at a snail's pace." Pawar eventually left Konkan for Mumbai, where she fought for Dalit rights and became a major figure in the Dalit literary movement. Though she writes in Marathi, she has found fame in all of India.

In this frank and intimate memoir, Pawar not only shares her tireless effort to surmount hideous personal tragedy but also conveys the excitement of an awakening consciousness during a time of profound political and social change.

The Weave of My Life is the memoir of an "untouchable" caste woman in India. She is an excellent storyteller, skillfully bringing her stories alive in my imagination.

She gives details of what daily village life was like in the time of her grandmother, mother, and in her childhood. She also talks about how things have changed for the Dalits during her lifetime. She gives some information about Hinduism and Buddhism and the political movements that helped change life for the Dalits, but generally only as it directly impacted her life. The first half of the book is full of general stories about her relatives and her childhood and gives the reader a look into their culture. The second half focuses more on specifics of her life story (including life in a city and dealing with the changing times in regards to the untouchable castes). I found it all very interesting.

Most of the bad language in the book was indicated using the "he cursed" style. A minor amount was spelled out, mostly when she was relating specific dialogue she had overheard.

Overall, I'd highly recommend this fascinating memoir to anyone interested in what life was like for the untouchable castes in India and how things are changing for them.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
Women from our village traveled to the market at Ratnagiri to sell various things. They trudged the whole distance with huge, heavy bundles on their heads, filled with firewood or grass, rice or semolina, long pieces of bamboo, baskets of ripe or raw mangoes. Their loads would be heavy enough to break their necks. They would start their journey to Ratnagiri early in the morning. Between our villages and Ratnagiri the road was difficult to negotiate as it wound up and down the hills. It was quite an exhausting trip.

When they came to the first hill, the vexed women would utter the choicest abuses, cursing the mool purush of our family, who, had he heard them, would have died again. The reason for the abuse was quite simple. It was he who had chosen this particular village, Phansawale, in the back of beyond, for his people to settle. It was an extremely difficult and inconvenient terrain, as it lay in an obscure ditch in a far-off corner of the hills. Two high hills stood between the village and the outside world. The steep climbs, with their narrow winding paths full of jutting sharp stones and pebbles, were extremely slippery. One wrong step and one would straightway roll down to one's death somewhere in the bottom of the deep valleys. Then there were two big rivers to cross. These rushed down the hills, looping through thick forests and valleys, their bellies carrying who knows what under the deep water. But that wasn't all! After crossing the hills and the rivers, the women had to walk quite a distance on a long, dusty, and dirty path till they reached the city. Every time a toe crushed against a jutting stone, a curse rang out, probably making the poor ancestor turn in his grave.

Occasionally, the women heard the bloodcurdling roars of a tiger even in broad daylight and, indeed, incidents of tigers attacking people on their way were not uncommon. Danger lurked everywhere. It crawled across one's path in the form of poisonous snakes such as ghonus and phurse who looked as if they wanted to inquire casually after the travelers. The barren open spaces were covered with shrubs as sharp as the teeth of those creatures and resembled some ancient armor. The howling wind, ferocious enough to topple one to one's death, blew continuously. Then there was a huge, deep well on the way, without any protective walls around, shrouded in the mist of chilling stories of evil spirits lurking there. And as if all this were not enough, there would be freaks and perverts, hiding in shrubs and trees, who occasionally assaulted the helpless women. They would be tense not only because of the obvious threat these miscreants posed but also because of what it would do to their reputations.

Friday, September 11, 2009

Book Quotes: No Guarantees in Life

From Written on the Knee by Dr. Theodore Electris (p. 27):

Thus far in my life I had thought that the creature comforts of home--like the best soft bed and exquisite food--were guaranteed, things that I had worked for and was entitled to. Little did I know that at this stage in my life I would be camped out in the cold, and not because of my own pursuit of some wild mountain adventure. There are no guarantees in life...

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Giveaway: Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts
by Cici McNair

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Center Street
First Released: 2009

The Book Bloggers Appreciation Week begins on Monday, and I'll be giving books away on all three of my blogs that week. We were just told we could start the giveaways, so I'll go ahead and start this one today!

I enjoyed Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts by Cici McNair, so I agreed to host this giveaway for the charming Brianne Beers of Hachette Book Group. You can learn more about the book by reading my review.

Five copies are being given away. This giveaway is for residents of the US & Canada only (no PO boxes).

To enter the giveaway:

1) you can twitter me saying "@genrereviewer Enter me to win DETECTIVES DON'T WEAR SEATBELTS. I'd like to win because_______." Include the reason you're interested in this book. (You don't have to use the exact "I'd like to win because" wording.)


2) You can leave a comment to this post asking to be entered. Also share the reason you're interested in winning this book.

The winner will be randomly selected. I'll announce the winner at noon (Central Time, Daylight Savings Time) on Sept. 23, 2009 on this blog. If you entered using twitter, I'll send you a @ or DM telling you of your win and asking where to send the book. If you entered using the blog comments, you'll need to leave your e-mail address or check back to see if you won so you can e-mail me your shipping address.

I hope everyone has fun with this!

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts by Cici McNair

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts
by Cici McNair

Hardcover: 368 pages
Publisher: Center Street
First Released: 2009

Author Website
Author on Facebook
Author on Twitter
Buy from Amazon

Source: ARC from publisher

Back Cover Description:
Growing up in Mississippi, Cici McNair was always more the tomboy her mother supported than the Southern belle her father demanded. She escaped her suffocating upbringing the first chance she had to travel the world. Whether working at the Vatican in Rome or consorting with a gunrunner in Haiti, she lived a life of international adventure. When Cici finds herself in New York, divorced, broke, and fashionably starving to death in a Madison Avenue apartment, she impulsively decides to become a private detective.

But, as Cici soon learns, the world of P.I.s is tight-knit and made up almost exclusively of former law enforcement officers. By nature, they are a highly suspicious group and are especially wary of a newcomer with an untraceable past. Diligently working her way through the Yellow Pages, doggedly pursuing the slightest lead, Cici is finally hired by a private investigator willing to take a chance. The next day she's working side by side with a pair of seasoned detectives and a skip tracer who is scary to meet but like silk on the phone. She quickly realizes she'll need all her energy and wits to succeed in this new world.

Being a private investigator is as exciting and liberating as Cici ever dreamed, from creating a false identity on the spot on her first case in the field to surviving adrenaline-rushing car chases. Working with law enforcement, she goes undercover, dealing with the ruthless Born to Kill gang in Chinatown and the Middle Eastern counterfeiters west of Broadway. A detailed account of the hidden world and real-life cases of a P.I., this action-packed memoir is as entertaining as any detective novel you've ever read.

Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts is an often-humorous memoir. Cici McNair is a good storyteller. I found the cases to be extremely interesting (just a warning, though, that this book isn't a how-to on detective work) and the humorous parts still have me shaking my head and laughing.

Since all the sections were mixed together, it's hard to tell, but about a third of the book was a rather serious look at her childhood (which included verbal abuse) and her adventurous adulthood before she decided to become a detective. About a third of the book covered various cases she worked: finding missing persons, doing background checks on people or businesses, surveillance, undercover investigations of counterfeit goods, etc. Another third described the people she worked with and gave often-humorous stories about their interactions at the office.

A couple of times, she gave all the information on a case or decision but didn't neatly spell everything out, probably assuming the conclusion was as obvious to the reader as it was to her. I had no problem following what was going on, but this book was a group "out loud" read and one of the three of us couldn't figure out what happened in these cases.

When other people in the story used bad language, the author left it in the dialogue, which means some sections had a great deal of cussing or were otherwise very crude.

Overall, I'd recommend this enjoyable memoir to readers who are interested in detective work or who enjoy reading novels about detectives.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter Twenty-One
I can't tell all my secrets, but I often use confusion to my advantage. A southern accent often soothes an American counterfeiter because many New Yorkers hear it and assume your IQ is sixty-seven points lower than it is. Usually I can get the perp to relax, to show me what he has, to do business with me. Sometimes doors are being closed behind me. Often I notice two-way mirrors and wonder who is watching me from behind them. Sometimes boxes are hurriedly covered with dropcloths and workers leave the room. I try not to look up for security cameras.

Since my own camera might jam or my winter scarf might fall in front of the lens, it was really up to me to notice absolutely everything. It was good to force myself--the daydreamer--to be alert on the different levels.

I use broad brushstrokes, with great good humor. I fly above suspicion; I refuse to acknowledge it. It's all I know how to do. Mickey told me once that it worked for me because deep down I felt I had every right to be there. And, yes, I do think that. Sometimes I've actually gotten so drawn into my own story, I've wondered about calling Delta to confirm that Thursday flight I've mentioned. I talk a blue streak. I chat like there's no tomorrow, admire what they're making, tell them all about myself, whoever I am that day. Though I never got over my stage fright at Vatican Radio, I hear my voice now and can hardly believe it's my own. I am completely calm and entirely alive. I am on their territory and vividly "high" on my awareness of that reality.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Book Quotes: Achieving Peace

From My Hope for Peace by Jehan Sadat (page 21-22):

In fact, fanaticism cannot be beaten by military means alone. To attack the roots of terrorism in the developing world, we must work to alleviate poverty and illiteracy, the hopelessness, frustration, and lack of opportunity that give militant fundamentalism its terrible allure. In Western Europe and the United States, we must work to reverse the feeling of disenfranchisement that many Muslim immigrants in developed countries experience. Fostering further isolation from the cultural and political mainstream is untenable.

Neither appeasement nor a police state can rid a nation-or the world-of terrorism. I know firsthand that issues of national security and personal liberty are often at odds. I do not believe that civil rights must be eclipsed by the struggle against terror, but long lines at airports, time, and inconvenience are relatively small prices to pay for increased safety. Nor do I rule out eavesdropping on suspected terrorists. Where and how to draw the line is not easy to determine. Political leaders wrestle with this trade-off between security and liberty all the time, just as my husband did thirty years ago.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Mormon Mirage by Latayne C. Scott

The Mormon Mirage

The Mormon Mirage
by Latayne C. Scott

Trade Paperback: 368 pages
Publisher: Zondervan
First Released: 2009

Author Website
Author on Twitter
Buy from Amazon

Source: Won during a Twitter contest held by the publisher

Back Cover Description:
As a gifted young student at Brigham Young University, Latayne C. Scott once was an ardent proponent of Mormonism. But a meticulous examination of Latter-day Saint (LDS) doctrines and practices convinced her that she and countless others had believed a lie. In the first edition of The Mormon Mirage, Scott shared her remarkable journey out of Mormonism as she uncovered shocking inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and contradictions in the faith she had loved and lived.

Thirty years later, Mormonism and Mormon scholarship have evolved with the times. In this third, revised and updated edition of her well-known book, Scott keeps pace with changes and advances in Mormonism, and reveals formidable new challenges to its claims and teachings. The Mormon Mirage provides fascinating, carefully documented insights into:

• DNA research’s withering implications for the Book of Mormon
• the impact of new “revelations” on Latter-day Saint (LDS) race relations
• new findings about Mormon history
• increasing publicity about LDS splinter groups, particularly polygamous ones
• recent disavowals of long-held doctrines by church leadership
• the rise of Mormon apologetics on the Internet

More than a riveting, insider’s scrutiny of the Mormon faith, this book is a testimony to the trustworthiness of Scripture and the grace of Jesus Christ.

A little background: I have an aunt and uncle who became Mormons when I was young. Their two children grew up as Mormons, married Mormons, and are raising their children as Mormons. The little they've said to me about their beliefs never made much sense to me. Six months ago, in an attempt to better understand what they believed, I read several chapters of a "covert Christians to Mormonism" book that my uncle had given my mother. This book attempted to demonstrate that even Christian Scripture proves Mormon beliefs. However, the verses they used in the book only 'proved' their doctrine when the verses were taken out of context and badly twisted. Not to mention that some of the doctrines taught in that book contradicted each other. I was frustrated and confused--why couldn't my Mormon relatives see the problems I so clearly did? Obviously, they were coming at it from a whole different viewpoint. I felt I needed to understand that viewpoint before I could effectively communicate with them about their beliefs.

When Zondervan held a Twitter contest for The Mormon Mirage, I jumped at the chance to win it. I hoped that someone who had been a Mormon and deeply understood how they thought yet who was now a Christian and understood how I thought would be able to help me understand the Mormon viewpoint by accurately comparing it to my own.

I was right. This is a wonderful book for those who have Mormon relatives or who want to better understand and communicate with Mormons when they come calling.

The Mormon Mirage is thoroughly researched with many links to free online resources for those interested in studying any of the covered topics more deeply. The author briefly described why she, personally, left the LDS church, the deep doubts she had about God and herself afterward, and her journey to becoming a Christian. She carefully covered what Mormons believe (and why she no longer believes it) concerning Joseph Smith and his visions, the Book of Mormon, the Doctrine and Covenants, the Pearl of Great Price, and what they teach about God the Father, Jesus Christ, the Holy Ghost, the holy spirit, Satan, etc. She also covered their other main theological ideas (including what Mormons mean when they use terms like "saved" and "hell"). She also briefly described various lesser-known denominations/splinter groups that follow Joseph Smith's teachings.

The information was useful and easy for me to understand and remember. The book really helped me understand how Mormons view their teachings and how they make them make sense in their own minds. I now feel confident that I can effectively communicate with my Mormon relatives. I'd highly recommend this book to anyone wanting to better understand Mormons and what they believe, especially those with Mormon relatives.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from Chapter One
[pp.20-21] There are many books and magazine articles written to convince Mormons of their doctrinal errors. Many of these, however, make at least one of two major mistakes. One is underestimating the intelligence, integrity, or character of the LDS people. Many times when I was a Mormon, I had read some otherwise factual literature against Mormonism which by its bitter or berating tone turned me off. The doctrinal point the writer was making never sank in. Such literature implies that Mormons believe as they do because they are stupid, narrow-minded, or satanic. Since I considered other Mormon friends and myself to be intelligent, open-minded children of God seeking to do his will, I would toss such offensive literature into the nearest trash can. Then I would offer a prayer to God for the soul of anyone who would tell such lies in print where they might be accepted as fact by someone who’d never met a good Latter-day Saint.

The other great error committed by many writers on Mormonism is that of not checking their facts. Like the mother of the girl who asked me about my navel, such writers discredit themselves with inaccuracies. Some writers, carried away in their enthusiasm, embellish facts — it’s easy to do — but when I would run into such stretching or bending of the truth in writings critical of Mormonism, I would dismiss as also erroneous anything else I read there that didn’t agree with LDS doctrines I had been taught.

When you confront many Mormons with, for example, copies of the original 1830 edition of the Book of Mormon, or strange prophecies made by Joseph Smith which never came true, some will be dumbfounded. Often such things are unavailable to them through regular Church channels. If, therefore, a book errs when covering things they do know about, how can they trust new information on things they have never heard of?

The most effective weapon of all in Dan’s armory was three-pronged. First was his overwhelming faith and confidence in the Word of God, the Bible. Second was the prayer that he continually offered for my soul’s enlightenment. Third, and most penetrating, was the love he had for me. Had we not loved each other, I don’t believe I would have had the courage to leave the comfortable LDS way of life. Had he ceased loving me before my conversion was completed, I fear I would have returned to the womb of Mormonism and lived ever an infant, frightened and dependent, but secure in my deliberate ignorance.

I finally came to an impasse in my spiritual progress. I was struggling against the bonds of Mormonism — tradition and heritage, doctrinal comfort and love. Yet I felt that something was terribly wrong there — why did my teachings and background in Mormonism conflict so sharply with my new knowledge of the Bible? Why the inconsistencies in LDS historical accounts and early documents?

Read all of chapter one.