WITH SO MANY NEWS DEVELOPMENTS worth commenting on, it's been almost six months since my last treadmill books column, and during that time lots of books have flowed into the Olasky home. Here's a rapid-fire listing of those worth reading; publication dates are all 2002 unless otherwise noted.
If you've been confused by the recent debate on Bible translation, read Leland Ryken's The Word of God in English: Criteria for Excellence in Bible Translation (Crossway), a powerful indictment of trendiness; the book was unveiled at last week's meeting of the Evangelical Theological Society. If you want to bring some historical perspective to the prospect of a U.S. war with Iraq, read Max Boot's The Savage Wars of Peace: Small Wars and the Rise of American Power (Basic Books) and Victor Hanson's Carnage and Culture: Landmark Battles in the Rise of Western Power (Doubleday, 2001).
The relations of Christians to government will continue to be a hot topic during the next Congress, and three books can help. Daniel L. Driesbach's Thomas Jefferson and the Wall of Separation Between Church and State (New York University) provides important historical analysis. Phil Webster's biography of John Jay provides documentation supporting a "yes" answer to his title question, Can a Chief Justice Love God? (1st Books). Paul Marshall's God and the Constitution (Rowman & Littlefield) is a succinct and thoughtful analysis of principles that should underlie current involvements.
Mr. Marshall collaborated with Roberta Green and Lela Gilbert on Islam at the Crossroads (Baker), which provides an excellent introduction to an Islam that could head toward war or peace. Those who believe that war is inevitable and are looking for support will find plenty of it in Serge Trifkovic's The Sword of the Prophet (Regina Orthodox Press), Robert Spencer's Islam Unveiled (Encounter Books), and Robert Morey's Winning the War Against Radical Islam (Christian Scholars Press).
Readers looking for more understanding of basic beliefs might delve into Unveiling Islam by Ergun and Emir Caner (Kregel) and Understanding the Hadith: The Sacred Traditions of Islam by Ram Swarup (Prometheus). Through our Enemies' Eyes (Brassey's), written by a U.S. intelligence official who remains anonymous, shows how America is viewed by Osama bin Laden and his radical comrades. Gilles Kepel's scholarly Jihad: The Trail of Political Islam (Harvard University Press) concludes that the influence of radical Muslims already has peaked.
Concerning battles past, Patrick Swan's Alger Hiss, Whittaker Chambers, and the Schism in the American Soul (ISI Books) commemorates the 50th anniversary of the publication of Chambers's book Witness. Jerry Bledsoe's Death by Journalism? (Down Home Press) details unfair attacks on a historian who helped students see the complexity of the Civil War. Kenneth J. Smant's Principles and Heresies: Frank S. Meyer and the Shaping of the American Conservative Movement (ISI Books) portrays libertarian and traditionalist alliance-building during the 1950s and 1960s.
Dinesh D'Souza's articulate Letters to a Young Conservative (Basic Books) and Stephen Goldsmith's Putting Faith in Neighborhoods (Hudson Institute) point to a new political synthesis. Those looking to upgrade their understanding of basic economics might turn to Fred Catherwood's The Creation of Wealth (Crossway), Edward W. Younkins's Capitalism and Commerce (Lexington Books), and Edward W. Ryan's Liberty, Virtue and Happiness: The Story of Economic Freedom in America (Nova Science Publishers).
Reasons for Christianity's success-that God pulls those He calls and helps them to repent-are evident in Richard Owen Roberts's nugget-filled Repentance (Crossway). Those looking for a scholarly but readable view of why Darwin could not possibly have been right should catch up to William Dembski's Intelligent Design (InterVarsity, 1999). Randy Alcorn's In Light of Eternity (Waterbrook, 1999) is a quick but useful read about what happens after death.
I'll catch my breath and conclude by mentioning new books by WORLD writers. John Piper's The Roots of Endurance (Crossway) and Brothers, We Are NOT Professionals (Broadman & Holman) are inspiring and provocative. Joel C. Rosenberg's just-out The Last Jihad (Tom Doherty Associates) is a political thriller that messed up my typical treadmill walking pattern. I typically read and treadmill for 30-60 minutes, but The Last Jihad made me do 100, because good action plus characters worth caring about left me unable to put it down.