CHRISTIAN BOOK REVIEW, In the Heart of the Sea

South Sea Whale Fishery, published 1835
      • TITLE:  Heart of the Sea.
      • AUTHOR: Nathaniel Philbrick
      • YEAR: 2000
      • PUBLISHER: Viking Penquin
      • PAGES: 320
      • GENRE: Non-fiction, historical
      • INTENDED AUDIENCE:  Readers who are interested in a seafaring story in the early 19th century, packaged with a lot of action and drama. The details of the crew’s survial in the open sea is brutal, and may not be appreciated by all.
      • MAIN POINTS : This story follows the final voyage of the whaleship, Essex, in 1821.
        At this time, whale oil was an important commodity. Petroleum products had not yet replaced whale oil for lighting or lubrication. So the demand was vast. As whales were hunted down, the Atlantic Ocean proved insufficient. Ships from the United States traveled around the Southern tip of South America to increasingly remote locations in the Pacific Ocean.
        The Heart of the Sea is a history book, telling us about the whales, the whale trade, and whaling ships. It is an action story, telling us about the incredible disaster that befell the Essex (Hint: if you ever read the novel, Moby Dick, the story of the Essex may sound familiar). And it is a study in human behavior, telling us how the crew of the Essex reacted to their predicament; and how they survived. The book concludes with the short biography of each of the survivors.
      • REVIEW: The story of the of the whaleship, Essex is a compelling story, well told by Nathaniel Philbrick. If you are squeamish, the details of the sailors’ survival may be told a bit too vividly.
      • RECOMMENDATION: Highly recommended to those for whom it is intended (see above).
      • RATING (out of 5 stars): 



Most everything you might want or need to know about the Moon.

  • TITLE: The Book of the Moon
  • AUTHOR: Maggie Aderin-Pocock
  • YEAR: 2019
  • PAGES: 240
  • GENRE: Non-fiction
  • INTENDED AUDIENCE: Everyone interested in the Moon.
  • MAIN POINTS (If non-fiction): This book covers the basics of the Earth’s one and only Moon–where it (possibly) came from, what it is, how it works, and the many ways in which it influences our lives. The book also includes a good deal of history of the way human beings have interacted with the moon, in science and literature. Hard to put the book down, once you get started.
  • REVIEW: I was interested in this topic because my grandmother used to show us the moon phases on our calendar, after which we’d take a look at the night sky. When my grandma was young, in the late 19th Century, a moon lit sky had more significance than today, when artificial lighting means every night can be illuminated. The author, is “an honorary research associate in University College London’s Department of Physics and Astronomy.” She explains the topic in a clear, logical, and interesting way.
  • RECOMMENDATION: Highly recommended.
  • RATING (out of 5 stars):

Eichmann Before Jerusalem — book review

It took a while for justice to catch up with notorious Nazi war criminal, Adolf Eichmann. This book covers the murderous career and years on the lam, hiding (sometimes in the open) in Argentina.

TITLE:  Eichmann Before Jerusalem
AUTHOR:  Bettina Stangneth

PUBLISHED:  In English, Alfred A. Knopf, New York (2014)

  • GENRE: Non-fiction
  • INTENDED AUDIENCE: Historians, and those interested in World War II history.
  • GENERAL INFORMATION: Examines the life of the notorious war criminal, Adolf Eichmann, following his escape from Europe after World War II. Also highlights his significant role in organizing the murder of millions of people, including 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. Touches on his capture (kidnapping) in Argentina by the Israeli Mossad in 1960. Eichmann was taken to Israel, tried as a war criminal, convicted, sentenced to death in December 1961, and executed by hanging in May 1962.
  • REVIEW: Eichmann was one of the central figures in the Nazis’ plans to deliver Jews to their death. He was caught by the Israeli Masaad, spirited out of his new home, Argentina, tried and executed in Israel.

    Apparently Adolf Eichmann’s name was not as well known as other notorious Nazi war criminals–at least not until he was captured (kidnapped) in 1960 and taken to Israel for trial.

    Although considered by many to be the architect of the “final solution,” as late as 1939, Eichmann was scheming to exile Jews from German held land through forced emigration (p. 13). European Jews soon learned about Eichmann and his efforts to expel and disenfranchise them (p. 19).

    In 1939, Eichmann helped orchestrate the efforts to put thousands of Jews on trains, with no known destination. The Nazis were concerned about public opinion, as this was all done in full view of the public. The public did not object in any significant way.

    By 1940, Eichmann was a Gestapo official in charge of forced Jewish emigration and their “relocation” in the east (p. 22). Eichmann “showed a talent of organizing large scale population displacements.” Jews were being transported to Poland by 1941.

    Toward the beginning of 1942, the meaning of “Final Solution” changed from forced removal to extermination.

    Eichmann claimed to have invented the name, “Final Solution.” He was instrumental in it’s planning and implementation. In the end he was key role in calculating the number of Jewish murders, by reference to official Nazi war records.

    Enough about the criminal. He was a very bad person. Eichmann Before Jerusalem explains it all, without giving the central figure any breaks or excuses. We have anecdotes about his relationship with his children in Argentina. Perhaps he wanted to be a good father. But mass murderers ought not be given the chance to be portrayed as kind or even human. He was monster. The author makes the point clear.

  • RECOMMENDATION:  Excellent book. Highly recommend to anyone with a historical interest in World War II.
  • RATING (out of 5 stars):