Interviews and Reviews of todays newest and best books.

Interviews and Reviews

The website is undergoing redesign but the interviews will be available.
The following are interviews by Dave 'Doc' Kirby as they were aired on his radio show, On The Bookshelf.

The following is the interview on "Teddy Roosevelt and the Rough Riders" as it aired on WTBF AM/FM radio.



The following is an interview with Josh Byers about his book 'Visual Theology'.

Hear the interview on Sunday, September 18 at 9:30 on WTBF-FM and 11:30 on WTBF-AM.


One of Alabama's top political experts and Troy's native son, Steve Flowers, tells stories from Alabama politics in his book, Of Goats and Governors.

The following is the interview as it aired on WTBF- AM/FM.


Bodie Hodge is the general editor of Volume II in his World Religions and Cults series. He is interviewed by Dave 'Doc' Kirby on his show On The Bookshelf in August.  

The following is the interview as it aired on WTBF-AM/FM.


“God’s Crime Scene: A Cold-Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe”

By J. Warner Wallace (pub. By David C. Cook)

Crime Scene Investigator Jack Wallace returns to build a case for a Creator. Using his finely honed skills as a detective, he uses the situational evidence to parallel the search for eternal truth. The former atheist knew that there are four causes of death, and only one of them requires an intruder: accident, suicide or natural causes are self-contained.  A foundational question is, “Can I account for all the evidence in this room by staying in the room?” If not, there has to be an external agent.

The Homicide Crime Scene in the beginning of the book contains DNA, fingerprints, a gun, and mud from a shoe belonging to someone other than the victim. God’s “Crime Scene”, the Cosmic “Room” of the Universe, contains four types of evidence. There is cosmological evidence that our universe had a beginning, and that it appears to be fine-tuned for human life. There is biological evidence that life in our universe emerged from non-life and that biological organisms appear to be designed. There is mental evidence that nonmaterial consciousness emerged from unconscious matter, and that humans are “free agents” in an otherwise “cause & effect” world. Finally, there is moral evidence: transcendent, objective moral truths exist in our universe; and evil & injustice continue to persist, despite our best efforts.

The author investigates further and adds to the growing body of evidence. From math and physics, we learn that the universe is dynamic, expanding, which implies it had a beginning. Astronomical evidence shows observable spectrograph colors that shift as objects move away from us. We get more evidence for a “big bang” origin from thermodynamics, background radiation, and the amount of helium in the universe. The universe was created.

Just as evidence in a homicide case can show tampering, so our evidence has been “fine-tuned” to uniquely prepare it for the life we know on our planet. Forces that governed the atom, matter, and the creation of chemicals are favorable to life. The shape, size and position of “our” Milky Way Galaxy; the position, composition, age, and mass of the sun, and its relationship to its planets; plus the earth’s atmospheric conditions, terrestrial nature and relationship to the moon are also favorable for life.

Does life require a creator? A watch requires a watchmaker! These and much more evidence is presented in this exceptionally logical book designed to convince the most dedicated skeptic, as the author once was.

We talk to Jack Wallace this Sunday ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM about his latest book, “God’s Crime Scene” published by David C. Cook

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. For October 24, 2015

“The President and the Apprentice: Eisenhower and Nixon, 1952-1961”

by Irwin Gellman (Yale University Press)

Conventional wisdom for many decades considered the relationship between these two as strained and unpleasant. The author decided to actually research that presumption at the presidential libraries of both Eisenhower and Nixon and found out that conventional wisdom was all wet. 20 years of research went into this definitive analysis of 1952-1960

Ike treated Nixon like a nephew and his chief staff officer. Nixon considered Ike as a father-figure whose approval was highly sought and whose guidance was welcome. Ike gave Nixon a lot of responsibilities because he liked and trusted the young VP, and Nixon always delivered for Eisenhower. Ike approved of the way that Nixon handled the Fund crisis of 1952 (and the “Checkers” speech). They did not share “equal billing”, but developed a warm and cordial relationship, working well together for 8 years in office.

The President sent his VP all over the world to make positive connections with foreign political leaders and carry the “gospel” of America. Ike trusted and relied on Nixon, sending him on many sensitive overseas missions. This experience was invaluable training that made him one of the best-prepared presidents in the field of foreign affairs.  They shared a deep concern over the spread of godless communism, but they knew that Senator McCarthy’s grandstanding was damaging their anti-communist work and splintering the Republican Party. Ike cared nothing for political parties and left all the inter-party work to his VP, which suited Nixon fine. He did not mind being the standard-bearer.

Eisenhower was dedicated to desegregating the US military, having seen the courage and determination of black soldiers in WWII, and forced the military to comply with a 1948 order by his predecessor. He desegregated the District of Columbia, and appointed pro-Civil Rights judges. The President and VP pushed the Civil Rights Act of 1957 through the Senate. Ike did NOT make the plans for the Bay of Pigs invasion (as JFK apologists have claimed), but he did bring down McCarthy after the Senator started attacking the US Army.

Ike was no kindly old grandfather, although he encouraged others to underestimate him by pretending to be one. He was a dedicated Cold Warrior, the general who planned and successfully mounted the Normandy invasion that defeated Nazi Germany. He knew that Nixon had been a Navy veteran of the war, but Nixon didn’t always understand the general’s style of governance. Ike was a brilliant general which served him well in the Oval Office. He gave his lieutenants a great deal of discretion and authority. But he made the decisions.

Here is the interview as it aired on WTBF-AM/FM.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. For August 28, 2015

“Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong”

By Ira Chaleff (Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.)

 “We are accountable for our actions. We need to be able to take a stand and do the right thing when what we are told is the wrong” thing. When is it appropriate to obey authority and when should authority be questioned?”

The author first saw this concept of “intelligent disobedience” exhibited by a colleague’s seeing-eye dog. The animal must be trained to ignore an order when it contradicts the safety of the master. (Kind of reminds me of the “Three Rules of Robotics” from Isaac Asimov’s sci-fi classic, “I, Robot”.) It is NOT the same as “civil disobedience”

The book is designed to help you develop the skills needed to find “the healthy balance for living in a system with rules and authorities while maintaining our own responsibility for the actions we take.” It’s time to alter the conditioning that does not serve your or your company well. If you are a manager or supervisor who wants to create an environment in which people hold themselves personally accountable, you need to understand what works against those dark forces.

“There are three components to appropriate obedience: The system of which we are a part is reasonably fair and functioning; the authority figure setting the rule or giving the order is legitimate and reasonably competent; and the order itself is reasonably constructive.” A wise leader or parent will appreciate Intelligent Disobedience, for they know that everyone is fallible.

“Courageous followership” means to follow orders with integrity and strength. The airline industry has adopted this concept with CRM, “Crew Resource Management”. Part of the technique is to “characterize all errors as a group responsibility rather than the responsibility of the leader.” There are five classes of behavior that constitute courageous followership, and they all involved courage: to assume responsibility, to support the leader, to challenge the leader, to participate in transformation, and to take a moral stand. Fore more, see www.courageousfollower.com or www.bkpub.com.

We talk to author Ira Chaleff this Sunday ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM about his fascinating new book, “Intelligent Disobedience: Doing Right When What You’re Told To Do Is Wrong” from Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. For August 20, 2015

“The Maid Narratives: Black Domestics and White Families in the Jim Crow South”

By Katherine van Wormer, David W. Jackson III and Charletta Sudduth (Louisiana State University Press—soon to be released in paperback

Imagine if the only job you could find to support your family was to clean the houses of people who looked on you (at best) as a child or (at worst) as a lesser type of human. That was because you had skin darker than your employer. You worked in constant terror that you might accidentally break something. The boss considered you “a part of the family” despite the fact that you weren’t allowed to use the bathroom in the house, enter through the front door, or eat at the table.  Ironically, you fixed the food, took care of the children, and washed and ironed everyone’s clothes. They paid you whatever they wanted to pay. If you were fortunate, they gave you leftover food or clothes they didn’t want anymore. This “paternalistic attitude” toward black people allowed whites to believe that their destiny was to be in charge of them.

This was the way of Jim Crow in the South in the 20th century up until the Civil Rights Movement changed everything. For many white children who grew up in the South even into the early 1960s, their black caretakers were dearer to them than their own mothers. (Sadly, those same black caretakers were denied the opportunity to care for their own children because of their job.) Sometimes the women even breastfed white babies! Amazingly, even white separatists appreciated their black “help’ and considered them a vital part of the family structure; but they didn’t know the last name of their “help”.

Blacks were extremely vulnerable during the Jim Crow era; black men could be lynched by white mobs for merely being accused of inappropriate behavior toward white women. Black women could be fired from their domestic job on a whim, or sexually harassed or assaulted without much recourse.  “In the rural South, segregation was kept in place by terror.” African-Americans who moved north in the Great Disapora found better working conditions and pay Up North, but prejudiced attitudes still existed, if more subtle.

This remarkable book exposes the real stories of black women who worked as domestics in the South and later left for a better job Up North. All admitted the racial bias they were forced to endure; yet they noticed the contradictory attitude by white employers toward their “help”. All talked about callous prejudicial behavior, such as treating them as invisible when they showed up in line for a bus ticker and making them beg for a ticket as the bus was leaving. Black people always had to allow any white person to get ahead of them in line or get the last piece of merchandise. There were more terrible things that that which plagued black folks under Jim Crow.

Listen to the interview as it aired on WTBF-AM/FM.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for February 3, 2015

“Christmas In My Heart #23: A Treasury of Old-Fashioned Christmas Stories”

Compiled and Edited by Joe L. Wheeler (Pacific Press)

One of the great delights of the Christmas season is reading the newest installment of Joe Wheeler’s wonderful anthology. Christened by James Dobson (founder of Focus on the Family) “America’s Keeper of the Story”, Joe has received thousands of Christmas stories over the last 24 years. They are sent by people who love great stories and who have carefully saved copies from magazines long gone silent.

Joe Wheeler meticulously reads each one over and over, looking for God’s guidance for the selections to choose for each collection. This points him toward a theme to unite each anthology, and this time it’s how Joe chooses each story. (Regular listeners to WTBF’s ON THE BOOKSHELF have heard Joe describe this process may times when he visits at Christmas, as he does this weekend.)

This year’s stories are no exception. The 23rd edition of Christmas in My Heart opens with true stories of the centennial of the Christmas Truce of WWI. After months of miserable fighting across trenches in Flanders, the Germans decided to celebrate a genuine Christmas. They sent for Christmas trees and began to set them up, then began to sing carols. The English and French across the trenches replied with songs of their own. This led to signs proclaiming an informal Christmas truce, with fraternization, soccer games, gift exchanges, and photographs! Two vets tell the story.

I also really liked a sweet story of sacrifice called “Santa for Certain”; a very cool tale of early aviation, “Flight of the Second Section”. A lovely story of a bored rich girl of encountering actual poverty is “Christmas at Bethlehem”; and a powerful story of how a rich Christian’s humility over land sets up a,  ripple effect in his small town. This joins “Because of Christmas” as my favorites in the book; it features “pay it forward” gifts to those who work selflessly and quietly in our communities serving others, often at holidays.

Finally, Joe Wheeler writes the last story in each anthology. This year’s tale concerns a wealthy, busy New York ad agency manager who is forced to take a sabbatical. He is traveling on a liner across the northeast, and the solitude and scenery is giving him time to think about his lost hometown sweetheart. It has been so many years; is it possible to win her back? Much of the reason they parted was his lack of genuine faith. Perhaps he needs to reconnect to God as well. This might be his most important Christmas season ever.

Listen to the interview with Joe Wheeler as it aired ON THE BOOKSHELF.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for December 18, 2014

“A Christmas Far From Home: An Epic Tale of Courage and Survival During the Korean War”

By Stanley Weintraub (Published by Da Capo Press, A Member of the Perseus Books Group)

When the Communists came boiling across the 38th parallel into South Korea 25 June 1950, the United States led a United Nations force to push them back. General Douglas MacArthur was appointed by President Truman to head the multinational military. At first, our soldiers and Marines were unstoppable; we pushed all the way to the North Korean border with Red China.  MacArthur, with typical hubris and hyperbole, told the world press that he would end the war by Christmas and send his troops home.

Stalin forced Mao to send a million under-equipped “volunteers” to push back the UN. It was a complete surprise, despite the fact that the CIA warned MacArthur; however, his ego couldn’t conceive the Communists could out-smart him. He was wrong.  Then he reviewed his plan of attack in the press, almost like a travel itinerary! The President knew “the ongoing debacle had nothing to do with luck and everything to do with (MacArthur’s) arrogance.”

In the most bitter cold imaginable, with temperatures hovering around -30 F, the Chinese soldier walked across the border at night in tennis shoes. Mostly without gloves or winter clothes, the Chinese carried simple firearms and “pocket artillery” of grenades and satchel charges. 300,000 Chinese used bugles, cymbals and whistles to communicate. They were very low-tech, but determined. Casualties were horrendous, and the bodies froze where they fell.

The US Marines took as many of their dead with them as they slowly retreated back toward the 38th Parallel. The real foes seemed the arctic temperature and the lack of US strategy. “Frostbite was causing more casualties than gunfire and grenades.” At -24 F blood froze before it could coagulate, icing wounds shut.

Navy and Air Force pilots dropped ammo, food and cold-weather gear, but it seldom worked. One that was spectacularly successful was the astonishing airdrop of Treadway bridge sections at Koto-ri. It put a Treadway bridge over the gap so that trucks bearing casualties and warriors could escape. It was an extraordinary endeavor! Walker’s disintegrating army retreated over 120 miles in 10 days, while the Chinese had lost a third of their combat troops.

By Christmas Eve, 105,000 US and ROK troops boarded US Navy vessels, plus 17,500 vehicles, nearly 350,000 tons of supplies and equipment and 91,000 civilian refugees. 

Listen to the interview with Stanley Weintraub as it aired ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM.

“The Co-Parents’ Handbook: Raising Well-Adjusted, Resilient and Resourceful Kids in a Two-Home Family from Little Ones to Young Adults”

By Karen Bonnell with Kristin Little (CMC Publishers)

We’ve all known the stereotypical divorced parents: bitter, argumentative, using their children as clubs to punish the other. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Few parents want their children to be miserable, even when the family is torn asunder by divorce. This book offers exceptional insight and advice on how to remake the relationship in order to restore as much normalcy to the kids as possible.

One key is putting the needs of the children ahead of those of the parents. The book will show you ways to “Successfully work through difficult feelings of your ex-spouse while forming your “business of co-parenting relationship. Build a mutually respectful co-parenting relationship. Keep your children front and center while protecting them from adult conflict and concerns. Understand your children’s needs as they navigate the loss and change of divorce. Help your children build resilience and competence in the face of family change. Implement strategies and protocols for day-to-day living in a two-home family that work.”

You child needs most of all to know that they are loved by both parents and despite the end of the parent’s relationship, they will never quit loving their children. “Divorce/separation changes the most basic routines and connections in family life. Ritual, routine, and predictability help build a new normal.”

“All healthy communication originates from and is guided by respect and civility”. Taking time every quarter to look at the upcoming school events, extra-curricular activities, and holidays helps to plan ahead and avoid areas of conflict. Co-Parents should be a functional, productive executive team. Plan ahead for situations that might cause emergencies or last-minute situations so that panic is avoided. Parents must manage finances openly and honestly, and again planning ahead helps to avoid most money problems.

The book also addresses co-parenting at holidays and life-cycle events, in public spaces, and when parents date or marry, bringing in another adult into the mix. The best co-parenting relationships are developed with skill, acceptance, maturity and patience.  If you rebuild a sense of family fun, find the balance between nurturing and discipline, and help you kids build resilience, they can be well-adjusted, resilient and resourceful adults.

We talk to author Karen Bonnell this weekend ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM about her book, “The Co-Parent’s Handbook” from CMC Publishers. 

Listen to the interview with Karen Bonnell as it airs on WTBF AM/FM.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for October 9, 2014

“Just the Fracks, Ma’am: The Truth about Hydrofracking and the Next Great American Boom”

By Greg Kozera (Advantage Media Group)

The author is a professional engineer with a Masters in Environmental Engineering, with over 35 years of experience in the natural gas and oil industry. He is also the President of the Virginia Oil and Gas Association. He has been using the technique of ‘fracking all that time.

Hydrofracking has been used since 1947 all over the world to extract the maximum amount of natural gas or oil from a well. It makes a little hole near the well site, which cracks the rock along the plane and allows the natural gas or oil to seep out easier. “There are no large underground caves with oil in them. What we call ‘oil pools’ are actually rocks with the oil trapped inside them.” Fracking just makes the wellbore larger; it is the “highway we use to release the natural gas in the shale.”

It is nowhere near the water table. Water comes from relatively shallow wells, like 300 feet, and water flows UP rather than down to the oil. The Marcellus shale is five to eight thousand feet deep. Over one million wells have been fracked with few incidents. Hydrofracking has added millions of barrels of oil and trillions of cubic feet of natural gas to our energy reserves. Over 90% of the wells in the US require fracking to be productive. Sand, water or nitrogen gas is forced into the shale to force the oil or natural gas out. 

Fracking does NOT cause earthquakes, breast cancer, baldness or anything else; nor does it contaminate groundwater. Solar, wind and nuclear will never provide our energy needs sufficiently.

Greg Kozera explains the significance of the Marcellus Shale, the second largest natural gas field on the planet. It is close to the biggest natural gas markets in the country; it is positioned to rejuvenate the “Rust Belt”, as new steel mills have opened in Ohio to produce pipe. The chemical industry is being rejuvenated because of the liquids in the natural gas and the cheap energy it provides.  

How much better to use our own natural resources than to depend on oil from the Middle East, Venezuela, or Russia. How much better for the United States to drill for our own oil and run factories and power plants with our pollution controls than those in China, Iran, Nigeria and Russia where they don’t have pollution regulations. Their dirty air doesn’t stop at their borders.

Our future can be bright again, if we are wise enough to ignore scare tactics and trust the experts. This weekend ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM, we talk to Greg Kozera about his new book, “Just The Fracks, Ma’am” from Advantage Media Group.

Listen to the interview as it airs on WTBF AM/FM.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for October 3, 2014

“Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life”

By Melody Moezzi (Avery Books, a member of the Penguin Group USA)

The author was born to Persian parents as the Iranian Islamic Revolution burst forth in 1979; she grew up a political refugee in the Iranian diaspora of Dayton, Ohio. Melody was a typical American kid, except that she was Muslim, went to Catholic school, and came from a family of high-academic achievers. Melody’s father took her away from Iran to a better future in the USA, where you are valued as a person and not oppressed because you are a woman. Mother was more direct: “Iraq had bombs and kept dropping them. I didn’t want us to die.” Life in America was good.

When she turned 18, it began a downhill slide. First, a rare and serious physical illness (acute pancreatitis) threatened her life, sending her to the hospital where she was treated successfully with high-risk surgery (after months of misdiagnosis). Her community filled her room with roses, lilies and hyacinths. By age 26, she was almost finished with college, was married, and was caught “in an excruciating cycle of depression.” When she attempted suicide and was diagnosed as bipolar, she was hospitalized again. This time, no flowers. She was urged to keep her mental illness a secret, even as it threatened the very fabric of her career and life.

Melody Moezzi is no pushover. She refused to keep silent. Long an activist for a variety of causes, now she was determined that people learn the truth about mental illness. Her husband was her rock, even when he was baffled by her hallucinations and reactions to them.

In 1999 Melody visited Iran for the last time, horrified by the oppression she saw there. Then September 11, 2001 occurred. As she states,” Thanks to some mass murderers who single-handedly hijacked our faith and our country in one fell swoop, all American Muslims were now expected to prove not only that we were ‘real Americans’, but also that we weren’t terrorists. Overnight, we became suspect.”

Her mental illness was not abated by the passage of time, and Melody went back into Stillbrook in 2006. Two years later, she was again in a locked ward at Ashwood. It was a full-blown crisis, with a psychotic episode. Bipolar disorder is a chronic illness, “treatable” but not “curable”. When she left at age 29, she wound up at Haven Hill, another ward, where she was able to start an effective medication regimen. A stay at Clara Vista ended in successful treatment in 2010. She also became an outspoken critic of the regime in Iran and passionate blogger and Tweeter for democratic reform.

We talk to the remarkable Melody Moezzi this weekend ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM about her illness and her new book, “Haldol and Hyacinths: A Bipolar Life” from Avery Books. Her website is melodymoezzi.com.

Listen to the entire interview:

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for September 24, 2014

“The Time of My Life: A Righteous Brother’s Memoir”

By Bill Medley with Mike Marino (Da Capo Press)

Sept. 19 is Bill Medley’s 74th birthday. His life has been filled with wonderful events and incredible friends and colleagues. He visits ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF this weekend to talk about his recent autobiography!

Bill’s first group was the Paramours. Bobby Hatfield came to hear them sing, and they merged with his group, the Variations. He and Bobby started singing together: they loved R&B. When they recorded one of his original songs they needed a new group name. He and Bobby had been singing R&B at a club where black Marines came to see them. The Marines said the duo was “righteous” and referred them to them as “brother”. Medley and Hatfield were flattered by their encouragement and became “The Righteous Brothers”.

A local radio DJ liked their first record, “Little Latin Lupe Lu”, and it took off. People packed their live performances, and when Elvis brought his entourage to see them, a lifelong friendship was born. The Righteous Brothers were the opening act for 50 Beatles concerts, they met The Beach Boys on the set of the new TV show, Shindig, and at their first Vegas gig Frank Sinatra took them under his wing and even gave them voice-coaching lesson! The impresario Phil Spector produced them on a new song by Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil: “You’ve Lost That Lovin’ Feelin’”. They also started the follow-up, “(You’re My) Soul and Inspiration”. In-between the RB recorded a Carole King song, “Just Once in My Life”, which featured Bill. They recorded “Ebb Time”, which almost left out Bill. It was the beginning of the end of their duo.

Bill married his girlfriend and best friend Karen when she got pregnant, but the marriage broke up in 1968. Eight years later, she was murdered and the killer has never been found. Overnight, Medley went from being a rock-star to being a single dad raising his son Darrin, and Darrin’s half-brother Damien.  His show-stopping performance of “Hey Jude” at the 1969 Grammy Awards gave him a new career, but his throat suffered from overuse. His old high school choir director, a devout Christian, offered to heal his voice with lessons twice a day. It worked, and Bill reconnected to God.

Bill Medley became a dear friend of Kenny Rogers, Waylon Jennings, Whoopi Goldberg, Sylvester Stallone, Bobby Darin, Dr. John, and Glen Campbell. His music became an important part of movies in the 1980s and 90s, exposing a new generation to the Righteous Brothers, and giving him a multiple-gold record with a new signing partner, Jennifer Warnes. Their new fame brought an incredible offer of $60K a night on a new tour with the Righteous Brothers. He and Bobby enjoyed a great “second act” as singing partners for the last 15 years of Bobby’s life.  They were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (finally) in 2003. Within a few months, Bobby Hatfield had died.

Bill Medley is still singing, and now his partner is his daughter McKenna with his wife of 28 years, Paula. He loves to sing, describing every performance as a “first date” with the audience. I started out as a fan of the Righteous Brothers and Bill Medley the singer, but after reading his book I am a fan of Bill Medley the person.

Listen to Doc as he interviews Bill Medley ON THE BOOKSHELF.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for Sept.19, 2014

“The Infidels”

By Joe David (Thames River Press, am imprint of Wimbledon Publishing Company Ltd.)

A century ago, a pair of pistol shots provided the last spark to set the world ablaze.  “Motivated by nationalism and insatiable greed, Europe plunged itself into one of the worst wars in its history.”  Worse, propaganda positioned it as a Holy War, with both sides considering themselves on God’s side.  But the assassinations of Archduke Ferdinand and his wife by a Serbian anarchist was not the first murder involving the major powers in the World War I era.  As the Ottoman Empire slowly ground to an end, from its ashes was arising a new nation-state.  Turkey would be founded at war’s end, but it was built on the shattered lives of ethnic minorities: Armenian and Assyrian Orthodox Christians.

The author’s mother survived the horror and misery but hundreds of thousands were massacred, raped, robbed or forced into exile.  (In fact, a generation later when a veteran of the Great War proposed to eliminate all the Jews in Europe and his generals suggested it was impossible to hide, Hitler responded, “Who remembers the Armenians?”)

The Ottomans hated the Christian Russians but they were especially determined to be rid of all the Christians within their territorial designs.  Their fury and gruesome treatments of the religious minorities defies description: clergy with their eyes gouged out, trampled under horses; decapitated heads being kicked aside like rubber balls; young girls raped by cruel Muslim warriors all sanctioned by the state.  Often, it was encouraged by the state. They were riven by blind hatred for anyone not following Islam, by “savage instincts, not reason.”

In the late 19th century, the Ottoman Turks had persecuted the Armenian Christians, and the American Red Cross got involved.  But during the Great War, every other nation was too busy in battle to rescue persecuted Christian minorities.  In Persia, the Assyrian Christians thought they were safer than the Armenians in Turkey.  They would learn how tragically they had overestimated their government.

The Middle East was afire with religious persecution and the colonial hopes of major European powers during the Great War.  Sadly, things would not change much after 1918, especially for Christians.  Even today they are persecuted, tortured, murdered or driven from their homes.

The author has captured the terror and misery of the Assyrian Christians in Persian (now Iran) a century ago, based in part on his brave mother’s true experiences.  World War I was more than just another technological slaughter: it truly was a massive tragedy for millions of people.

Listen to the interview with Joe David as he talks with Doc ON THE BOOKSHELF.

Book Bit for WTBF-AN/FM Troy, Ala. For August 1, 2014

“The Heist”

A novel by Daniel Silva (Harper, a division of HarperCollinsPublishers)

Gabriel Allon, legendary spy and art restorer, is back. This time, while enjoying a quiet time in Venice restoring an altarpiece and watching his new wife glow (she’s pregnant with twins), Gabriel is asked by Italian police to help with a gruesome murder. The victim is a dealer in stolen art that also happened to be an English intelligence operative. The simple investigation becomes (naturally) increasingly complicated, putting Gabriel into contact with old allies in the criminal underworld and in other foreign Intel services.

At stake is the world’s most iconic missing masterpiece, Caravaggio’s Nativity with St. Francis and St. Lawrence. As it turns out, stolen art is the 4th most lucrative form of criminal activities, an easy way for corrupt national leaders to ferret away ill-gotten gain into untraceable items that can be easily liquidated. Banks in Switzerland and Austria are bulging with the booty, but the money trail Gabriel is following will take him to one of the worst tyrants and mass murderers: the “president” of Syria. “The paintings are but one component of a global network of concealed riches. The Arab Awakening laid bare the greed and avarice of the Arab dictators who have fallen thus far.”

Gabriel will need the help of dangerous men on whom he can depend for his safety and his life. He will also devise an elaborate ruse to tempt those in the tight orbit around Syria’s ruler who are also lining their pockets for a quick getaway. Allon will discover an unexpected ally in a young woman who works as a trusted accounts manager for a bank that is hiding Syrian assets. Jihan Nawaz was a girl when the Syrian regime decided to obliterate an entire city in order to forestall a civil war. Hama was the site of the worst massacre in the history of the modern Middle East, which the Syrian ruler never denied nor regretted. She has been awaiting a chance to revenge her family’s murder. Gabriel will give her that chance, but it carries great risk.

Meanwhile, this might be the last case for Israeli super-operative Gabriel Allon, as he is struggling with the offer to become the next head of Israeli intelligence. If everything goes as planned with this mission, he will take away a vast sum which leaders stole from their countries, and perhaps find a masterpiece which has been missing for generations.

If it doesn’t go according to plan, his widow will have to raise their children alone, unless his enemies find her as well.

Daniel Silva’s latest bestseller is an incredible read, simply the best novel I have read in years. He has made a new fan of me!

Listen as Doc talks with Daniel Silva ON THE BOOKSHELF  on WTBF-AM/FM.

“Darwin’s Doubt: The Explosive Origin of Animal Life and The Case for Intelligent Design”

By Stephen C. Meyer (now in paperback from HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

One of the insuperable difficulties with Darwinian macro evolutionary theory is the Cambrian Explosion, “a pattern in the fossil record that seemed to document the geologically sudden appearance of animal life in a remote period of geologic history.” Darwin postulated that it would take vast stretches of time for a simple animal to “evolve” into a more complex one. However, the Cambrian era contains a wide array of complicated animals that seemed to come from nowhere. Just like computers need more code and data to be more complex, “to build a new form of life from a simpler preexisting form requires an enormous amount of new information.”

“If we think of evolutionary trees describing the relationships of animal groups as hypotheses about an unobserved history, then having two or more conflicting hypotheses about only one history—the history that actually happened-means that we haven’t figured out what did happen. The statements of Dawkins, Coyne, and many others about all the evidence supporting a single, unambiguous animal tree are manifestly false.”

What about epigenetic mutations? Do they explain changes in cell information? No. The structures are larger and less vulnerable to many of the sources of mutation, and mutations are “overwhelmingly likely to have harmful or catastrophic consequences.” The Cambrian explosion isn’t a minor anomaly but a profound enigma for Darwin. Biology has entered a post-Darwin world, where his theory problems have become insurmountable.

Where does the programming of the cell originate to produce the pre-programmed adaptive capacity? All of the “evolutionary theories have two things in common: they rely on strictly material processes, and they also have failed to identify a cause capable of generating the information necessary to produce new forms of life. Is it possible that intelligent design-the purposeful action of a conscious and rational agent-might have played a role in the Cambrian explosion?”

Dr. Meyer, PhD in the philosophy of science from University of Cambridge, states “Intelligent agents, due to their rationality and consciousness, have demonstrated the power to produce specified or functional information in the form of linear sequence-specific arrangements of characters. Digital and alphabetical forms of information routinely arise from intelligent agents. Animal forms have more than just genetic information. They also need tightly integrated networks of genes, proteins, and other molecules to regulate their development.” ID helps explain many key features of the Cambrian animals as well as many other anomalous features of the Cambrian fossil record.”

Listen to the entire interview as it aired ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM.

“The Late Starters Orchestra”

BY Ari Goldman (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, a division of Workman Publishing)

Making music is hard work but it is a great and joyful thing. The author was a highly successful author and reporter for the New York Times, which left little time to continue his passion of playing the cello. He studied the cello for seven years while in his early 20s, and then life intervened. After his first two children were grown and his youngest son wanted to start taking lessons, Ari joined him. This began his rediscovery of performing.

As Ari progressed, he often heard the voice of his late teacher and mentor in his head. “The note is inside you. Just let it come out. Every note is a song. Rhythm is the organizing principal of the natural world. If rhythm emerges from the body, melody springs from the voice. Melody tells a story. Harmony is exercise for the mind.”  Ari joined the New York Late-Starters Orchestra (affectionately known as the “LSO”). It is a spinoff of a movement that started in Europe in the 1980s, “committed to the notion that everyone should have a place to make music.” There is no audition; they just get together once a week to play, and sometimes they have an audience.

Playing music has many benefits.  Goldman found it’s great for older brains to learn new skills, like a foreign language, math, or music. In the words of Ari’s late teacher, Mr. J, “Music shaves 20 years off brain age.”  Several studies show that “musicians tend to remain sharper in old age than those who do not have music in their lives. New skills can be learned, and new instruments played competently, if not with mastery.” Like playing golf, you can improve as a musician as long as you work at it. (The great Pablo Casals was once asked by a reporter why he practiced several hours a day in his early 90’s; he replied, “I think I’m making real progress!”)

Eventually Ari’s son Judah turned into a teen and embraced guitars, basses and pianos. Now he was making music with his mom, Shire, and Ari felt left out. He also learned from his new friends in the LSO; some had been professional musicians. His recent career as a professor at Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism after a lifetime as a reporter was at times frustrating, for so many students were sold on “New Media” that they were forgetting that journalists were essentially story-tellers. I understand, because I teach journalism and jazz at Troy University. And for me, getting serious as a trumpeter in the Southeast Alabama Community Band, Camp Kirkland’s Metro Big Band, and the Troy University #1 Jazz Ensemble has given me a new lease on life. Music is emotion. Making music is a great joy, a gift from God.

Author Ari Goldman talked with Doc ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM about his new book,’ The Late Starters Orchestra” from Algonquin.  Listen to the interview below.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for July 10, 2014

“Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Plot for Global Revolution”

By Giles Milton (Bloomsbury Press)

Lenin had big plans after taking over Russia in 1917. He vehemently hated the British Empire and the Western democracies, and developed a plan to bring them down: He would form an alliance with the Afghan and Turkestan Muslims to cross the northern border of India and take it from Britain.

Happily, there were brilliant and dedicated British agents who were equally determined to thwart Lenin’s evil machinations. They were led by the enigmatic Mansfield Cumming, a former naval officer with a passion for secrecy. He was the head of Secret Intelligence Service, which became MI6, and was director of secret operations inside Soviet Russia. His operatives included Samuel Hoare, the SIS bureau chief in Petrograd, Ernest Boyce, the SIS bureau chief in Moscow, John Scale, SIS bureau chief in Stockholm, and the staff of spies included Paul Dukes, Arthur Ransome, George Hill, Augustus Agar, Oswald Rayner, Frederick Bailey, future author Somerset Maugham, and the man known as the Ace of Spies, Sidney Reilly.  There were also Wilfrid Malleson, army general and spymaster working for British India, and diplomat Robert Bruce Lockhart. Together, these men, the women who helped them, and those who worked within the Bolshevik regime to destroy it, helped defeat a very real threat to world stability and freedom.

Starting in 1917, when the Communists came into power, they began a reign of terror. A dark force was rising in Russia, threatening the entire world. The Chief of SIS, known only as “C”, was to be “in charge of all the boldest undercover operations in Russia for the next six years.” His operatives would create the spycraft that is still used, designing and inhabiting different identities. In a very real sense, these spies were far more amazing than the fictional James Bond. They fell in love with female operatives, and their lives were constantly in peril. The Communists would gladly execute them.

The Red Army gave an Indian revolutionary, Manabendra Nath Roy, the money and authority to amass a coalition of atheist Communists and Muslim warriors to invade India. But he had more than met his match in General Wilfrid Malleson, who would do whatever it took to demolish the alliance. He used every dirt trick in the book to accomplish just that. Meantime, a mole deep within the Comintern had been leaking damning papers to SIS that revealed Moscow’s intent of harnessing radical Islam. The British government was approached by the Bolsheviks, whose economic programs were a shambles. They were stunned to learn that the Brits knew everything, and leveraged that knowledge into a promise to stop the invasion!

We talked to author Giles Milton ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM about his incredible book, “Russian Roulette: How British Spies Thwarted Lenin’s Plot for Global Revolution” from Bloomsbury Press.

Listen to the entire interview as it aired.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for June 19, 2014

“Radio Free Babylon Presents…Coffee With Jesus”

By David Wilkie (IVP Books) {Wilkie and his wife are the co-founders of Radio Free Babylon, a consortium of artists, writers and other cultural creatives.}

OK, I have discovered my new favorite book. Theology, insight, humor, and stirred into a four-panel comic strip. Brilliant!

This book introduces us to the small cast of characters of a very insightful, clever, and brutally honest online comic strip. Originally created as a “one-off, single-panel comic” on artist David Wilkie’s blog, “utilizing old advertising clip art for the main characters and Sunday School clip art for the person of Jesus.” Christ interacts with them as though they are sitting in a coffee shop, talking. This simple set-up allows him to address genuine concerns, situations, prejudices and ironies of the faithful (and not-so faithful) who visit Him. The comic strip was born out of David Wilkie’s frustration with the “polarized political climate in America.”

The imperfect cast of characters bring the conflicts. Kevin is a marketing and ad exec & church growth consultant, who is 30 and divorced. Carl is a 44-year-old who’s been married to Lisa since they were in college. Lisa is 40, beautiful and optimistic, a stay-at-home mom, and spoiled. Ann is a 41-year-old divorced working single mother of two. They sometime confuse God and country. Joe is a 29-tyar-old hardworking pastor of a small, struggling church. And there’s Satan, subtle, smooth, smart and seductive. He despises the weakling who follow Jesus, but knows he can’t win for very long.

Jesus is cool, calm and collected, but does not temper His words. He loves the ones who struggle even when they exasperate Him, but He does encourage them to grow up in the faith and not stay childish any longer.

Here’s an example: A strip titled “Needy” Kevin says, “Why do you require worship, Jesus? It seems sort of, I don’t know another way to put this, sport of needy on your part. Jesus answers, “You worship rock stars, sports heroes, nature, the human body, Kevin.” Kevin adds, “And you get angry if we put those things ahead of you, am I right?” TO which Jesus replies, “More sad than angry, Kevin, because I’m not the one who needs it. You are.”

In a strip featuring the young pastor, Joe, he tells Christ, “I think my sermon yesterday fell on deaf ears, Jesus”. Jesus replies, “You have no idea who was reached or what they tool from it, Joe. It could be years from now and someone remembers what you said.” Joe explains, “But you know I’ve always wanted to bring in a great harvest for you, Jesus”, to which he responds, ‘You plant and water, Joe. Let me worry about what grows.”

Check out the website, www.RadioFreeBabylon.com  or www.CoffeewithJesus.com

Listen to the interview with David Wilkie as it aired ON THE BOOKSHELF.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for June 21, 2014

“Where the Wind Leads: A Refugee Family’s Miraculous Story of Loss, Rescue, and Redemption”

by Vinh Chung with Tim Downs (W Publishing, a division of Thomas Nelson)

In 1979, the new communist regime in Vietnam consolidated its power and thousands of citizens fled in search of a safe home. These “boat people” were the second wave of refugees from Vietnam, and they entered a region saturated by the first wave in 1976. In particular, the Malaysian government was callously indifferent to their frantic attempts at survival, and in some cases towed their broken boats out to sea and abandoned the refugees in them! The author was one of those children, whose miraculous rescue by a World Vision Refugee boat was only one of the astounding events of his life.

Vinh Chung serves on the board of World Vision US, the organization that saved his family’s life. He and his siblings arrived in America with nothing but the clothes on their back, not speaking a word of English, and they earned 21 university degrees, including five Master’s and five Doctorates from institutions like Harvard, Yale, Georgetown, Stanford, George Mason, Michigan and Arkansas. He was born in Vietnam, but was of Chinese ancestry; raised in America as an Asian, a citizen but also a refugee. His own land rejected him; his new land took a while to welcome him.

His father had been born into a family of successful businesspeople, earned by hard work and many years of sacrifice. When the Japanese came, they had to start over; when the communists won, the family lost everything again. They fled their own nation before they were forced to work for the state, which had already stolen their factories and their possessions and would get their home, too. They smuggled their entire family, traveling in several groups to avoid suspicion, arriving at a large fishing boat they bought. 159 people were crammed into it and they set out in the South China Sea.

After almost dying of thirst in their derelict craft (and being miraculously sent rainwater after the father prayed fervently to a God he had only started to know), the family was sponsored by a Lutheran Church in Arkansas for six months. Next they moved to Section 8 housing, which was ethnically diverse. They lived there for two years, and everyone learned how to be in America together. The Vietnamese church at Grand Avenue Baptist became the single most powerful influence on Vinh’s family; “it completed a spiritual journey that had begun long before they ever reached America.”

Dad got a factory job, a long step down from being COO of a multimillion-dollar trading empire. He worked like a dog and saved every dime, all so that his children would have the chance to succeed in America that he never would have for himself. He passed on his dream to his children, and they fulfilled it.

Listen to the entire interview as Doc talks to Dr. Vinh Chung ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM about his book, “Where the Wind Leads” from Thomas Nelson Books.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for June 3, 2014


          “No Place To Hide: A Brain Surgeon’s
Journey Home From The Iraqi War”

By W. Lee Warren, M.D., Major, USAF (ret.)(Zondervan Publishing House)

For Dr. Lee Warren, his 2004-5 deployment to Iraq as an ER brain surgeon was intense, fraught with danger, heartbreaking separation from his kids, the last straw in his shaky marriage, and the opportunity to finally take God seriously. The USAF makes a policy of rotating their surgeons into combat zones for four months at a time precisely because of the nature of the work. Imagine wearing body armor and a sidearm in the operating theater, or being constantly shelled by mortars while in surgery. No place on the base was really completely safe.

Surgeons in a warzone don’t discriminate about patients. They treat everyone who is brought in, including seriously-wounded American warriors and their allies, innocent children and civilians, and even enemies. As the author explains, “not every army in the world would have let its medical teams care for the enemy, and we felt lucky to be fighting for the side that would.” The teams handled the injured as they arrived in triage-style order, the most grievously wounded first. Sometimes they were able to work near miracles, while other times their determined efforts were unable to overcome the severity of the wounds.

One extraordinary case involved the worst head injury the author had ever seen, Sgt. Paul Statzer, who was missing half his skull. He had been three feet from an IED when it exploded and blew off half his head. Dr. Warren found the left eye imbedded in the ravaged brain, and removed most of his frontal lobe. Lee had called Sgt. Statzer’s parents after the initial surgery; his father responded with,”Doctor, by the grace of God, I know my son is going to be okay.” After rehab, Statzer regained most of his memory and learned how to talk again.

Lee came home to divorce papers and a case of PTSD. He rarely slept; he lost weight; he wondered when the next mortar round would land. The war had changed Lee. He says, “the bombs and bloodshed had pushed (him) to the point of surrendering to the truth that (he) was a control freak hopelessly unable to control anything at all.” He learned “you can’t ever really leave the war behind, but you can come home stronger for having lived through it.” He also learned to pray more, worry less, and let God do the rest.”

Listen to the entire interview as it aired ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM, as Doc talks to Dr. Lee Warren, board-certified neurosurgeon and patented inventor, who lives and works with his second wife and business partner, Lisa, and the children in Auburn, Alabama. His book about his experiences as a veteran is “No Place to Hide” from Zondervan Publishing House.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for May 30, 2014


“Astoria: John Jacob Astor and Thomas Jefferson’s Lost Pacific Empire-a story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival”

By Peter Stark (ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

200 years ago, America was mostly the Atlantic coast and about 100 miles inland from it, plus the newly-bought Louisiana Purchase. However, the western portion of our current nation was largely unexplored. Two men shared a common dream: politician/philosopher/inventor/author /US President Thomas Jefferson and self-made businessman John Jacob Astor. They believed that there was a way of essentially cornering the market of the enormously-lucrative global fur trade. They wanted to create a new settlement of Americans on the Pacific Northwest coast who would be able to gather furs from numerous Indian tribes and transport it for sale to Asia.

Lewis & Clark’s expedition had traveled across the continent to the Pacific, but there was a vast track of territory occupied only by Native Americans, and never explored by the Spanish, French, British or Russians. Astor put together two expeditions and spared no expense. One went by sea, and the other by land.

Wilson Price Hunt would lead the Overland Party, and would head the entire West Coast colony and emporium, overseeing the entire Pacific Rim trade empire. For second-in-command, Astor chose a Scottish trade, Duncan MacDougall, aboard the 300-ton frigate, Tonquin as part of the Seagoing Party. US Naval Captain Jonathan Thorn, a genuine naval hero, would command the ship.

Unfortunately, with all the planning, there were a few things not considered. A naval officer, all discipline and sacrifice, had serious issues with the high-spirited French trappers and Scottish traders. Expedition leader Hunt knew nothing about the dangers of Pacific winters, or the dietary needs of people struggling to survive. Both of these situations led to extreme repercussions. The ship arrived in the Columbia River in late March of 1811, having traveled almost 22 thousands miles. Eight men died trying to guide the Tonquin across the hazardous Columbia Bar. Captain Thorn also forgot the advice of Mr. Astor: “Be kind and brave”. He would pay for his lack of manners with his life, and those of many of his crewmembers, and his ship. The combined Overland Party finally arrived in winter 1812. But what ultimately doomed Astoria was the War of 1812 and President Madison.

However, his vision would eventually become reality and America would stretch from sea to shining sea.

Listen to the interview as it aired ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM, as Doc talks to the author Peter Stark about his new book, “Astoria” from ecco Books.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for May 16, 2014

To celebrate Mother’s Day, and tie into the release of

 B &H Books has two new releases.

Moms’ Night Out

A novelization by Tricia Goyer, screenplay written by Andrea Nasfell and Jon Erwin, and

Mom’s Night Out

Devotions to Help You Survive” by Kerri Pomarolli, inspired by the hit movie Moms Night Out.

Allyson is about at wit’s end. She wants so much to be a perfect mom. She loves her husband Sean, and her little son Beck and daughter Bailey, but she desperately needs a night away. Sean agrees. “Unplug”, he urges her. So Allyson invites her best pal Izzy, and the pastor’s wife, Sondra, to join her for a “mom’s night out.” She plans a very cool dinner at a swanky restaurant, with no children to cling or distract. She uses the family van, they all dress up, and when they arrive they are treated with disrespect at the restaurant, which messed up their reservation. Worse, when they leave the van is gone, with all their cellphones inside!

Meanwhile, the husbands are having their own adventures. They have taken them to a pizza place where Beck got stuck in a vending machine and Sean dislocated his shoulder getting him out. Now, off to the hospital SO they swap cars. But of course they can’t notify their wives because their cellphones are in the van. Then Sean’s younger half-sister Bridget runs into Ally, Izzy and Sondra at the bowling alley (hey, a girl’s gotta eat somewhere). Her ex-boyfriend was supposed to watch their baby, so he left their son with another ex-girlfriend, who left him somewhere. Bridget is terrified and desperate. They check a tattoo parlor and meet an enigmatic giant of a man nicknamed “Bones”, a biker who takes on their crusade. Also caught up in the quest is a British cabbie. Along the way, Sondra gets to be real, Ally learns she doesn’t have to be perfect, and Izzy finds out she’s pregnant again. It’s a journey of faith, but it’s also a very wild ride!

The devotional is an absolute hoot, but it is also loaded with Godly wisdom. The very funny Christian, Kerri Pomarolli, offers fifty short lessons link such topics as “Disney Princesses make me cry”, “McDonald’s Cheeseburgers are from God”, “Chick Flicks and Happy Endings”, “The Ten Worst Texts You Can Send Your Wife on Moms’ Night Out”, and “Rebel With a Coke”.  It makes a perfect companion to the novelization of the movie.

(In the spirit of full disclosure, my son Sean worked on this movie as a Gaffer and Best Boy. Moms’ Night Out was made in Alabama, and it opens nationally Mother’s Day weekend at 900 select theaters nationally.)

Learn more at www.momsnightoutmovie.com

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for May 10, 2014

“The Tragedy of Liberation: A History of the Chinese Revolution 1945-1957”

by Frank Dikotter (second volume of the People’s Trilogy)(Bloomsbury Press)

In April 1948, the Chinese Communist army began a siege of Nationalist stronghold Changchun. It ended with 160,000 civilians dead of famine. It was not nor would it be the last time the communists under Chairman Mao deliberately caused the death of untold numbers of their countrymen for the good of the Party and the State.

With callous indifference to the suffering of the people of China, Mao deliberately encouraged cadres of communists to crate chaos and class struggle where none existed in order to totally destroy the bonds of community and society. Propped up by the evil mentor Stalin, Mao set out to demolish everything good about China in order to remake it into his twisted, simplistic, anti-intellectual vision.

The result was the destruction of a nation. After decades of war with the Nationalists (under Chiang Kai-shek) and the Japanese invaders, the Communists won control of China in 1949. They began immediately to ruin the economy, oppress the people, and murder millions of citizens with starvation, torture, lynching and executions. This was done with the utter complicity of Mao’s minions large and small. To add misery, Mao jumped into the Korean War to help his fellow Marxist. It was enormously expensive.

Eight years of abject misery descended on the war-weary Chinese, as hundreds of previously classified documents, secret police reports, eyewitness accounts, and newly opened party archives bear witness. Decent people were forced to confess actions and attitudes for which they bore no actual guilt, to denounce their friends and parents, all of which resulted in murder, suffering and destruction on a vast scale.

Farmers were denied the tools to produce crops, so they starved while whatever they produced was sold abroad, usually to the USSR. Professors and professionals were forced to the farms with no training or knowledge of how to farm, so more starved and were reduced to wearing rags and selling their children for food! One victim of the “thought reform” called it a “carefully cultivated Auschwitz of the mind.” No one was safe from the communist “reforms”, no matter how insignificant or how high in the party.

“The first decade of Maoism was one of the worst tyrannies in the 20th century”. This is a “history of calculated terror and systematic violence.”  Dreams of freedom and democracy were crushed by the boot-heel of Mao’s mad vision. Every promise of the government was broken. Indeed, the government deliberately lied to everyone, all the time. China was led into hell by the monster Mao, killing people of faith at every opportunity. It’s high time the truth of the murderous Mao be told.

Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for April 30, 2014

“All Joy and No Fun: The Paradox of Modern Parenthood”

By Jennifer Senior (ecco books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers)

Popular culture, including the transition of children from young contributors to the family funds to their current status as “economically worthless but emotionally priceless”, does a disservice. Parents are encouraged to treat young children with dignity, explaining why the parent is expecting them to behave in a certain way.

This is utter nonsense, as research explains while parents initiate “absurdist loops of non-argument”. The frontal brain lobe of children, which generates logical thought and a concept of the future, is almost non-existent. Children live only in the NOW. This drives parents (and especially moms) more than a little nuts. Happiness is not always a realistic goal, and “when reality falls short of expectations”, as the author explains, “we often blame ourselves.” Mothers are particularly stressed by parenthood, as they tend to multitask and children don’t lend themselves to it very well.

Dads, on the other hand, tend to be goal-oriented and don’t stress when they plop the kids in front of TV for 20 minutes while they prepare some kind of food. This disparity between the expectations and experiences of mothers and fathers is an additional source for stress for moms. Having a baby is one of the most stress-inducing events to a marriage. Sleep deprivation is a major problem.

Modern dads do a lot more housework and childcare than their fathers ever considered, but it never seems to be enough to make their wives happy. This is probably because mothers set the bar so high in their personal expectations. Informal socialization with friends tends to drop off precipitously, while purposeful socializing goes way up with parenthood. Changes in society have isolated modern parents more from neighbors and extended family, especially grandparents.

Middle-class Parenting today involves a lot of scheduling, as though we must prepare our children to compete with every other brilliant kid anywhere else in the world. This adds to parental stress. We also have ramped-up the protectiveness of children, despite research which shows child safety is at an all-time high!

However, there is nothing as really awesome as being a parent. You get incredible moments of transcendent joy. You get philosophical discussions. You get to be a kid again. You get to see the amazing world through a new set of unjaded eyes. Being a mother or father becomes “who we are.”

“The Artisan’s Soul: Crafting Your Life into a Work of Art

by Erwin Raphael McManus (HarperOne, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers)

My mom is a professional watercolorist and art teacher. She’s got lots of paintings going at the same time, which she touches up, or changes. Likewise, your very life is an ongoing canvas as an act of worship to the LORD. As the author puts it, “The great divide is not between those who are artists and those who are not, but between those who understand that they are creative and those who have become convinced that they are not.

You don’t have to be a great artist to be creative. What humanity “needs most is for us to set creativity free from this singular category of the extraordinary and release it into the hands of the ordinary. Creativity should be an everyday experience.” Furthermore, it is the “natural result of spirituality”! It takes courage to accept our limitations and to embrace our potential; “we cannot create without risk. Art is an extension of self.”

The truth of the Bible is that God created humans in His image, so “to create is to reflect the image of God” , and “to create is an act of worship. So who is an artist? Anyone who has a soul.” God did not mass-produce us, but as the Psalmist writes, “knit us together in the secret womb of our mother”. We are created as individuals, and we are creative in return it delights God.

However, if we are to turn our lives into “works of art”, we must allow a lifetime of work. “The way of the artisan is a life in which we risk all for love”; not just romantic love, but love of God, and love of each other as fellow created individual humans. There will be sorrow and disappointment: that is inevitable. “Love never comes without wounds; faith never comes with failure”. We must not be trapped by our suffering, either. But with creating there is also great joy.

There are dangerous snares: “captivity not only steals our freedom but cripples our imagination. People become slaves when they have lost their dreams. Not always but far too often, physical poverty drives us to a poverty of the soul.” When we look to great painters for inspiration, we see the contrasts in their vision of life: Vincent “Van Gogh’s narrative was a journey of inner turmoil, while Claude Monet became a translator of beauty”, and Pablo Picasso wrote, “Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”

“Genius is a gift we are given; mastery is the stewardship of our gifts. We have no control over the gifts and talents given to us, but we have every responsibility for their stewardship.”

We will talk to the author this weekend for Palm Sunday ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM. Please join us.

Listen to the interview as it aired on WTBF by clicking on the link below.

“Salvation Accomplished By The Son: The Work of Christ

By Robert A. Peterson (Crossway Books)

“Christ’s saving work is profound, massive, and magnificent. It is profound because of the identity of the One who performed it.  We can only understand Jesus’ saving death and resurrection properly within the framework of His story. The first half of the book is devoted to a biblical exposition of Christ’s nine savings events:

Incarnation, sinless life, death, resurrection, ascension, session, Pentecost, intercession, and second coming.”

Certainly the church has always considered the death and resurrection of Christ as the “central acts of history. His cross and empty tomb are redemptive.” The author sees the two prior events as “necessary preconditions”, and the “five subsequent events as necessary results”. These nine events are seen as parts of the whole work of Jesus. We are saved by works, but they are not our works; they are the works of the Lord on our behalf. “The works He accomplished to save us for one unified work that took place in nine events. Only Christ’s deeds are redemptive. All nine events can thus be viewed as the Christ-event.”

“Scripture interprets Christ’s saving accomplishments in two main ways. First, it does so via His threefold office of prophet, priest and king. Second, Scripture interprets Christ’s saving work by painting pictures.“ The author lists “six major pictures and devotes a chapter to each:

Christ our reconciler, Christ our Redeemer, Christ our legal substitute, Christ our Victor, Christ our second Adam, Christ our sacrifice.”

“Although every picture is valuable and one is to be ignored”, the author states,” I conclude that penal substitution is foundational to the others.” He presents nine reasons for that stance, spread across four categories:

Redemptive history, pictures of Christ’s work, prominence, and the Godward direction.”

Dr. Robert Peterson is professor of Systematic theology at Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis, and editor with Christopher W. Morgan of the Theology in Community series.

We will talk to him this Easter weekend ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM but you can listen to the interview as it will air on WTBF by clicking the link below.

Join us to hear a brilliant seminary professor explain what Christians believe, and why Easter is so much more than eggs and candy!

“Strategic Cooperation: Overcoming the Barriers of Global Anarchy

By Michael Slobodchikoff (Lexington Books, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Rowman & Littlefield Publishing Group, Inc.)

The author, a first generation American of Russian ancestry, has researched how two very dissimilar and at time antagonistic neighboring countries managed to have a successful relationship. Finland was once a part of Russia, but gained their independence at the end of WWI after the Russian Revolution. The new USSR eyed her old territory with increasing interest when the Nazi menace began to rise, and in 1939 attacked the Finns. For 100 days the beleaguered little Finn military held off the once-great Red Army until new commanders and better planning overwhelmed the Finns. However, Finland was not subsumed into the USSR as the Baltic States had been. Instead, Finland was allowed to maintain its neutrality and avoided having Soviet military personnel posted in Finland. For the rest of the Cold War, Finland and the Soviet Union maintained a mutually beneficial relationship without their sovereignty being threatened.

How this relationship between unequal partners succeeded can give us insight about nations who might never be friends but can’t afford to be enemies. There are risks: “weaker states must constantly be aware of the power asymmetry when interacting with the hegemonic power, and must be worried about coercion. Ultimately states must decide whether or not cooperation is within their strategic interests given the structural constraints. A good example of building trust over time between a hegemonic power and weaker state is the relationship between the United States and Canada.”

The USSR and Finland had an interesting relationship. They were neighbors sharing a border, one the global leader of communist totalitarianism, the other a Western capitalist democracy. Russia wanted to be sure that Finland would not provide a beachhead for a Western invasion. Finland maintained its neutrality, played a major role in Cold War Europe, and achieved many of its own goals despite the interests of more powerful states. “They developed a cooperative relationship (with Russia) without trust.”

The keystone of their success was 1948’s “Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation, and Mutual Assistance”, which formed the basis of their relationship. Finland would be an independent state, responsible for its own defense and security. “Nesting” facilitated their continuing success, where a new treaty is “nested” within the framework of a prior treaty.

We talked with Dr. Michael Slobodchikoff of the Troy University Political Science faculty about his new book, “Strategic Cooperation” from Lexington Books, ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM.

Hear the interview as it aired on WTBF by clicking on the link below.

“A Visual Defense: The Case For and Against Christianity”

by Robert Velarde (Kregel Publication)

The season of Lent begins with Ash Wednesday, a holy time of reflection for those who follow Jesus. Christians should understand what we believe, and when non-Christians question or challenge our beliefs we should be prepared to make a civil and informed defense. Here’s a resource to make an organized and cogent account.

Robert Velarde uses “argument diagrams” to organize your assumptions & premises, answer arguments & rebuttals, and draw the logical conclusion. Some of the most interesting and important chapters include “Christ Rose from the Dead”, “Christianity Best Explains Evil”, and “Hell is Justifiable”. Others address the most common challenges by atheists and pantheists, such as “There is no God”, “God is Unnecessary (because of non-theistic evolution)”, “Christianity is harmful” and “All Religions are Equal”.

For example, how does the Christian faith explain the existence of evil?  The theistic assumption is that God exists and evil is real. The Premise: evil requires objective moral values (in other words, you can’t define evil without non-changing moral values). Free will is not truly free if the choice of evil is removed; God certainly could have prohibited the existence of evil, but He doesn’t want puppets. God wants us to choose to follow Him. Furthermore, suffering tests and prepares us for this life and beyond. Evil and suffering demonstrate that morality is based on God, not the changing values of society.

 Are all religions equal? No, that’s a shallow reading of all religions, all of which each offer a different explanation of man’s relationship to the divine. To pretend they are all equal is to minimize them all. They would all have to be useless and wrong. Lack of tolerance for other religions is irrelevant to matters of truth. Further, if humans are fallen, they would naturally choose to create religions that minimize their condition and need, or require minimal effort (such as Scientology). Christianity is the only major world religion that teaches that humans cannot “earn” Heaven or Paradise; instead, God reaches down to earth, takes on human form, takes our punishment for sin on Himself and pays the corporal penalty on our behalf, and rose again from the dead to defeat sin and death itself.

Religious experience is not all subjective and un-testable; we can test the experience claims on the basis of changed lives as well as other evidence, such as correspondence to reality.

Listen to the interview as we talk to author Robert Velarde about his new book “A Visual Defense: The Case For and Against Christianity” from Kregel Publications, as it aired ON THE BOOKSHELF on WTBF-AM/FM.

For more check the website, www.kregel.com

 Book Bit for WTBF-AM/FM in Troy, Ala. for March 4, 2014

“I Remember Me”

By Carl Reiner (Authorhouse)

Carl Reiner has always been a superb storyteller. Through his work on such iconic TV series as Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows and The Dick Van Dyke Show, and movies such as Steve Martin in The Jerk, his prolific pen brought us into different worlds and entertained us in grand style. Now his latest memoir shares his life story, and as charming and funny as he still is, there are sad places, too. Being famous and fabulously funny hasn’t made him immune to life’s bumps and bruises, but his sense of good cheer and optimism never faltered.

A good example is that early in his life he was a great fan of an Irish tenor on the radio, who spoke in a thick brogue about life in “tha old country” and sang beautiful Irish ballads. It turned out the performer wasn’t Irish but Jewish! Carl Reiner learned that in show biz you could be any person you want to be (and he still does a terrific Irish brogue.) 

The great love of his life was his wife of 70 years, Estelle, and Carl tells how he almost made a terrible mistake when he was in the Army and was tempted by another lovely woman. We learn of his exciting career in the US Army (will he learn Morse code in time? Will he survive another hike? Will he get extra work because he impersonated the headmaster at his training school?), his early years as a performer, and his work with the most amazing writing staff on TV’s Your Show of Shows. And, of course, he did this little sit-com, with Dick Van Dyke and Mary Tyler Moore. You might have heard of it.

His dad was a master watchmaker and jeweler (who actually filled one of his own teeth back in Vienna, Austria!), and was a self-taught violinist and flautist (sue me, that’s what they call somebody who plays the flute.) He brags about his kids, actor/director/producer Rob Reiner (of This is Spinal Tap, Stand by Me, Princes Bride, and when Harry Met Sally) and his lovely daughter, distinguished psychoanalyst and author Dr. Annie Reiner. (Estelle had a cameo in WHMS that is ranked as one of the all-time great movie lines by the American Film Institute: after Meg Ryan as Sally demonstrates in a crowded restaurant how women can successfully “fake it” and the waiter asked Estelle’s character what she wanted to order; she looks over at “Sally”, and intones, “I’ll have what she’s having.”)

Carl Reiner talks about his interactions with such show biz legends as Hedy Lamarr (whose lozenge he tried to light), Shelley Winters (and her determination to get ice water from a tap on the set), and Dinah Shore (to whom he proposed a most intriguing question). He shares the account of the World Premiere at the Cinerama Dome of The Greatest Story Ever Told (which didn’t live up to its billing, but “no audience was ever more disciplined and respectful.”) His best pal since 1951 is another legend, Mel Brooks, and finally the truth can be told about the genesis of their iconic routine, The 2,000 Year Old Man. Also, the mystery is solved: how Carl taught Mel to speak his own linguistic invention, “Phony Phrench”.

It was my distinct pleasure to interview Carl Reiner via phone concerning his book. He immediately put me at ease and we laughed like old friends at his wonderful stories. 

Doc's interview with Mr. Carl Reiner was heard ON THE BOOKSHELF, Sunday, April 7, on WTBF-AM/FM. Listen to the entire interview:

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