Here's this year's second bimonthly roundup of books-these are all from 2012-that I'm not able to review at length.
Justin Buzzard's Date Your Wife (Crossway) provides practical tips for husbands who want to love their wives and save their marriages. Pascal Bruckner's The Paradox of Love (Princeton) shows that even a secular French philosopher can recognize that marriage has virtues and free love is "the oxymoron par excellence. ... How can love, which attaches, be compatible with freedom, which separates?"
Mitch Stokes' A Shot of Faith (to the Head) (Thomas Nelson) vigorously and rightly criticizes evidentialism by showing that facts of any kind assume a certain faith. Anthony Selvaggio's 7 Toxic Ideas Polluting Your Mind (P&R) provides succinct critiques from a Christian perspective of ideologies such as egalitarianism, consumerism, and relativism.
James Palmer's Heaven Cracks, Earth Shakes (Basic) is a well-written history focused on 1976, the year Mao Zedong died after killing tens of millions, the Tangshin earthquake killed tens of thousands, and China began emerging from a political nightmare into its current grey dawn (or dusk). Jay Nordlinger's Peace, They Say (Encounter) shows how politicized the Nobel Peace Prize has become.
Douglas Wissing's Funding the Enemy (Prometheus) provides evidence that U.S. officials have mismanaged billions of dollars meant for developing Afghanistan, and have ended up bolstering the drug trade and dumping money into Taliban hands. Quintus Tullius Cicero's short How to Win an Election, written in 64 B.C. and translated by Philip Freeman (Princeton), shows us how demagogues in 64 B.C. and A.D. 2012 get elected.
Scott Rasmussen's The People's Money (Simon & Schuster) shows through public opinion polling that programs to get government spending under control can be popular, but to pass them Americans need to throw out the political class of big spenders. Gilbert Garcia's Reagan's Comeback (Trinity University) shows how the future president almost retired after Gerald Ford beat him in primary after primary early in 1976, but Reagan's big victory in the Texas primary that year restored him politically and personally.
No Enemies, No Hatred (Harvard) is a collection of essays and poems by Liu Xiaobo, the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize winner now serving an 11-year prison sentence for what Beijing terms "incitement to subvert state power." Liu in his writing comes close to Christ at times but, unlike millions of his countrymen, has so far backed away. John M. Barry's Roger Williams and The Creation of the American Soul (Viking) is a lively history that goes less into Williams' theology than his emphasis on liberty and the way that eventually fed into the American Revolution.
For those especially interested in the youth of Christianity, Peter Schafer's The Jewish Jesus: How Judaism and Christianity Shaped Each Other (Princeton), is a scholarly look at how Jews and Christians, during the first centuries after Christ, opposed but learned from each other. Those who hope to tackle one of the biggest public policy issues over the next decade should imbibe Sylvester Schieber's The Predictable Surprise: The Unraveling of the U.S. Retirement System (Oxford).
The photo on the cover of David Nelson and Randolph Schiffer's David and Lee Roy: A Vietnam Story (Texas Tech University Press, 2011) shows Lee Roy Herron, a young Marine, at a church service in Vietnam on Jan. 26, 1969. He made it there by flagging down a helicopter going from his Fire Support Base Shiloh to Fire Support Base Razor, where the service was held. After flying over 10 miles of enemy territory to attend that service, on subsequent Sundays-since Fire Support Base Shiloh was short a Protestant chaplain-he helped conduct services there for his fellow Marines. Herron died on Feb. 22, 1969, after taking a wounded officer's place and destroying an enemy machine gun bunker. He was trying to take out a second machine gun bunker when a heavy mist and rain clouds suddenly lifted. Spotted immediately and gunned down, he received posthumously the Navy Cross, second only to the Medal of Honor.