Saturday, September 01, 2018

Books read in September 2018

1. On the Crofter's Trail by Craig David (Author)

I was given this by a friend whose family was cleared from Strath Never. A book to bring tears to your eyes. man's inhumanity to man. The opening chapters I found rather dull and hard going but once we were in Canada the stories came to life. Much of this is criticised by historians as mere oral tradition but that is the way history is transmitted in all cultures and this makes it all the more significant. It shows the way history is remembered. Sometimes it was too painful and suppressed as old soldiers do with their stories. But it is brilliantly and passionately recounted, edited by a man passionate about this terrible tale. It should indeed provoke outrage and thankfulness one lives in better times. Here were people burned out in evictions. Shipped in ships more crowded than slave ships. Some were merely dumped on the inhospitable coast of Canada. I once wondered why Highlanders were so antipathetic to English Conservatives. Here you lean why. It is enough to turn anyone to the SNP! This book is also quite one to whet ones appetite for travel to see the places he describes so well. I have been to many of the Scotland locations but now Canada calls. The stories of the suffering are enough to make one weep but there is one tale that made me laugh out loud - the black pot. I also found it interesting how a persecuted people become persecutors themselves in another land - the crofters in Canada's attitude to the subsequent waves of immigrants and to the indigenous peoples.

2. Voices from the Past: Puritan Devotional Readings by Richard Rushing  (Editor)

Excellent daily devotions for a year and antiquated language has been modernised. When I read the second volume I thought it Puritan blessed thought rather than an exegesis of the texts but now I see the editor chose the texts to fit the daily readings. I note Watson and Baxter are deservedly the main contributors - the most quotable and the most prolific of Puritan authors. But as I said on volume 2, it is a pity dates were not given nor references to actual sources. 

3. 2,000 Years of Christ's Power Vol. 4: The Age of Religious Conflict - Nick Nedham

The best church history book I have read. I learned a lot about Lutheranism,  Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. But where the book came really alive was England and Scotland. The understanding of the development of Anglicanism, Puritanism is superb. The conflicting currents before, during and after the Civil War are well described. I never realised the endless divisions in Scotland over the covenants. God moves in mysterious ways. As well as the history we are treated to excerpts from primary sources too. as well as lists of important people. My only query is that I have no doubt which side Bunyan would have fought on in the civil war. A no brainer surely? Now to read the former volumes and to await the last in the series.

4. Walk Through History: Discover Victorian London by Christopher Winn  (Author)

It does what it says for as you follow the maps and the clear instructions you learn the history of the London built by the Victorians. It is a convenient size to hold in one hand then pocket it as you take your photographs. But when I follow it I see lots of other newer or older buildings en route and natural curiosity makes me wish I had to hand a guide including those too. But this book does not claim to be a comprehensive guide to all of London's sites. Very educational.

5. In Bitter Chill (DC Childs mystery) by Sarah Ward  (Author)

I read this because the author's name came up when I was researching my family tree. Lo and behold her main character is a genealogist and our family name is there as a character mentioned in the book too. But the family connection has not influenced my review. This is the best crime novel I have read for a long time. Loved the setting. The characters seem well delineated. The plot is complicated but not too much so. It is reasonably easy to follow but a glossary of the characters would have helped. Unlike most modern writers there is no explicit sex.  Sex yes but tastefully discreet.If I want to read more crime apart from the next Grisham, Ward will be my author of choice.

6. Derailing Democracy in Afghanistan: Elections in an Unstable Political Landscape by Noah Coburn  (Author), Anna Larson  (Author)

I have met one of the authors. I visited  Afghanistan in 2006. Well written good scholarship and detailed research, but I wonder about the title. Surely the text shows that democracy as we know it is impossible in this country? For starters, this is not a nation state. It is a clongomeration of waring tribes who only ever come together in order to defeat an invader. They did it twice to Britain and once to the former USSR. What central power has ever had a rule of law over this failed state? It is a mess and will remain a mess. For the West to try and impose democracy - well it seems on the surface to be a good idea but the\narrative here related shows it to be a false hope. 
   I found the anthropology very interesting as democracy smacks here of a cultural imperialism by invading powers masquerading as a good idea because the ruling elite go along with it for their own self interest. I am tempted to say the book tells me we should be out of there and leave the locals to go back to their usual habits of killing one another. Helping Muslim dominated states is a thankless task. Keep clear seems sensible. Does the West have a responsibility to make rules of a democratic game which is really a farce? The authors conclusions concerning the future of democracy in Afghanistan as perceptive. The whole book serves as a primer for outsiders to understand how this country functions. But one is left to question the wisdom of westerners thinking a representative democracy can follow elections taking place. Liberal democracy took a very long time to evolve in the West. can it be expected to quickly appear in this country? Surely that is an unreal expectation.

7. Hausaland, or, Fifteen Hundred Miles through the Central Soudan by Charles Henry Robinson

Published in 1896 this is an account of Nigeria before if became united as a British colony. Whites were in the south for commercial and missionary reasons but the north was a different, largely Islamic world. Read the account of these Englishmen going as pioneers into the north. It is a different world. The problems of travel on foot, of finding and controlling suitable bearers, of payment with salt. Gifts have to be exchanged with the ruling local powers en route to Kano. Cloth is a medium of exchange for the local currency of cowries is not portable. They are in want of a currency and means of transport. Slavery is endemic and it is Muslims enslaving unbelievers, a continuation of the jihad 0f Usmani Dan Fodio at the start of the 19th century. Slaves are used by the rich for currency when travelling. Thus is pre-colonial Africa.  He wants to see Britain take up its responsibility agreed when at the Berlin conference the European powers divided up the continent. He describes Islam here from his missionary perspective. Details of medicine and pilgrimage are given. Fascinating history and anthropology. 

8. “Giants in the Land Pioneers of Reformational Thought" Volume 1 
Guillaume Groen van Prinsterer, Abraham Kuyper, Herman Bavinck
 - Compiler, Chief Translator and Chief Editor:
Dr. Jan H. Boer

This is a ebook available on An introduction to three great
 men from the Dutch reformed churches. Boer is a great enthusiast for
 reformational thought , reformed theology applied to all of life and in
 a way that combines understanding with true spirituality. Here are men
 of true piety who were the antithesis of pietists. The book is a resource
 of links to the writings of these men and those who have written
 concerning them.

9. Causes of the Jihad of Usman Ɗan Fodio: A Historiographical Review
 -John Edward Philips,

I was sent this by the author because of a shared interest in the north
 of Nigeria. The causes of the Jihad of Usman Ɗan Fodio. are 
classified  as religious, ethnic and socio-economic. I think the paper
 lacks a clear delineation of what society was like before the jihad
 and afterwards particularly in religion and in slavery. One wants to
 know more concerning the origins of Islam in the area among 
Hausas and in Borno.

10. Who will send rain? by Pat Appleton

Here are true stories of the African Christians. They happened between 1900 and 2014. The author says she writes to reach Christians in various African countries and also to interest and encourage Christians young and old where ever they live. As I started the book one read of miraculous answers to prayer, endurance in persecution, providence, God spreading the gospel. These are all most encouraging stories from a variety of missionary authors I was particularly moved reading stories from Nigeria especially Mama Tabitha who I knew from 1970 at Von Christian Hospital and all Chibok girl martyred at the hands of Boko Haram. I found this book so encouraging I want to buy copies to give away but so far I have yet to find where it is being sold.

11. Magnificent Obsession: Why Jesus is Great by David Robertson (Author)

If I could give more than five stars I would. Simply the best book
 of practical apologetics. He takes on the atheists in a convincing
 way. Not that this will change anyone. Only  the Holy Spirit
 does that work.

12 . Story of Craft Beer by Pete Brown (Author)

All you need to know about beer -brewing, types, countries and
home brewing too. Very informative and educational but made
me thirsty.

No comments: