what does a bibliophile do when he takes his nose out of the book? he writes a review.

Dead Heat May 22, 2008

If you find political fiction, end-times fiction, or any other fiction even remotely interesting, then get to a library or book store and pick this up… yesterday. Short of actually being there, it is the most terrifying thing you will experience. I have never, I repeat, never, read a fictional book that scared me until I read this. Not only did it scare me, it shocked me. Time and time again, just when you think it cannot get worse, it gets worse. Not worse as in bad material to read, but terrifying things happen in this book. (However, in order to get the full feel of it, you’d be advised to read the first four books in Joel C. Rosenberg’s series, starting with The Last Jihad.)

Mr. Rosenberg’s books have a scary way of coming true. For example, he wrote about a suicide airplane attack on a target within the United States… in January of 2001. That’s just the beginning… I’d tell you more, but I don’t want to ruin it for you.

Essentially, the book opens as the President of the United States, James MacPherson, prepares to give the keynote speech at his party’s national convention. His time is up and he is preparing to pass the baton on to his handpicked successor. But a terror plot is in the works. It’s bigger and badder than anything that’s ever been launched on the United States, and the government is completely on the wrong track.

Jon Bennett, the character whom we have spent our time with for the course of Rosenberg’s series, is back, though in a less important role than the one he fills in the earlier books. He is now married, and he and his wife are doing relief work in Africa, looking to stay away from politics, when he receives a call informing him of how he can stop the next big attack on the United States. Sound like a nail-biter?

It is at first. But as the book goes on, Rosenberg drops one bombshell after another on us. We don’t expect for things to happen the way they do, and it’s not abundantly clear where he’s heading with all of this (unlike in the Left Behind series where we could predict what was going to happen). It’s terrifying stuff… makes every other work of political fiction I’ve ever read look like picture books.

What is so ghoulish about Rosenberg’s work? As I said before, it comes true. While he makes no claim of being a prophet, he has spent much time analyzing the End Times Prophecy of the Bible and the current political winds and situations, and he keeps being right. Again and again and again. Some of them are not far-fetched, but he wrote about Yasser Arafat’s death before Yasser Arafat’s death. Published it, in fact. Other, more far-fetched ones? The entire premise of the fourth book, the Copper Scroll, is that there is a buried treasure worth billions of dollars somewhere in the Middle East, taken from the Temple years ago. Shortly after the book’s publication, a newspaper report came out about research for that very thing.

Truthfully, I cannot more highly recommend a book than I recommend this one. Buy it. Read it. And, unless you’re sure of your destiny, be afraid. Be very afraid.

Ratings on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 least, 10 most, 0 nonexistent:
Violence: 7
Sexually Graphic Content: 0
Language: 0
Character Development and Strength: 7

Overall: 10


Fahrenheit 451 March 15, 2008

Filed under: Book Reviews — Harrison Beckmann @ 6:57 pm
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On the recommendation of a friend, I picked this book up at my library recently and read it. I’m told by my lit teacher that it is considered a sci-fi classic. So, even though I’m not a huge sci-fi fan, I had high expectations.

Result: eh. For those two people of you out there who have not at least heard of it, it’s an Orwellian-type novel (if you don’t know what that means, google it, cave-dweller) about a futuristic society in which books are banned, and anyone who has them is labeled crazy, taken to prison, and their books and their house are burned. Morbid, huh? We follow one of the “firemen” in his relatively short, yet complex journey to the books, as he slowly (actually, rather quickly, but the book agonizes over his thoughts) realizes that they’re burning the keys to returning society, and people, to some semblance of intellectual literacy. Books such as these would be good for people who don’t like books to read. (Books such as Plague Journal, by Micheal O’Brien, would be similarly good for liberals to read.)

The book succeeds in striking terror into your mind, if not your heart, with images of the “firemen” burning a woman with her books, and a mechanical hound (for the purpose of tracking down book readers and killing them) that (crosses fingers) cannot be escaped. I enjoyed the writing style of the author, Ray Bradbury. It was fairly easy to read long passages of character’s thoughts, a task which can sometimes be laborious. Most of the book is excellent. However, I felt that it ended too soon. We’re left not knowing what will happen next, almost as if there should be a sequel. I don’t want to spoil it for you if you haven’t read it, but it leaves the reader wanting more. This book left too much to the imagination after the story ends. It would have been better if Bradbury would have continued his story.

Nevertheless, the book is what you could consider a classic. It is certainly worth the read even if it does leave you feeling distinctly as if you have eaten only the appetizer and have yet to get to the main course of your meal.

Ratings on a scale of 1 to 10, 1 least, 10 most, 0 nonexistent:
Violence: 5
Sexually Graphic Content: 0
Language: 4
Character Development and Strength: 8

Overall: 7


Protect and Defend January 21, 2008

Vince Flynn has written a series of political fiction novels based around the rogue, Jack Bauer-type, CIA agent Mitch Rapp. Rapp basically is the baddest dude around. I mean really bad. He has no qualms about doing unimaginable tortures to those who might have information to help protect Americans. Vince Flynn really has a sick imagination. Really sick.

So, in Protect and Defend, Israel decides to blow up Iran’s lone nuclear reactor/research plant. They, of course, succeed. Iran responds with predictable bravado and blustery, except this time they decide to act. Without giving away the story, essentially, a guy who doesn’t agree with some of the country’s more radical members meets with the head of the CIA, Irene Kennedy. Ms. Kennedy is kidnapped by these rogue members, and it’s up to Rapp to find her, before the Iranians do to her what Rapp is doing to a few of his captives to figure out where she is.

The plot is not as good as some of the previous books in the series, and the book needs another subplot. It also seems to drag at some points. Mr. Rapp is once again the fearless, dynamic, **** the leadership and bureaucracy. While the proposition works in Vince Flynn’s pretend world, we don’t really know if the hideous things Mr. Rapp does work in the real world. The characters are of medium depth. Not too shallow, but not Clancy-like development, either.

If you are a fan of political/military fiction and you can stomach a lot of language and a lot of gore (be prepared, this is stuff they would never put in the movie, and maybe not even the news) then you would be okay with reading this book. You probably don’t want to buy it, though. Even if you like that sort of thing it’s really not worth buying. Check it out from the library.

And, uh, don’t get on Mitch Rapp’s bad side.

Ratings on a scale of one to ten, one being least and ten being most.

Violence: 10
Sexually Graphic Content: 6
Language: 7
Character Strength and Development: 5
Plot: 4
Overall: 4


Godless: The Church of Liberalism January 8, 2008

Filed under: Book Reviews — Harrison Beckmann @ 12:34 am
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Taking a shot at a non-fiction book for this review. Ann Coulter has written a number of books, which happens to be when she’s shining her best. She just somehow does it better when she has time to develop her points and explain to you WHY she’s calling liberals idiots. Okay, so I don’t like the fact that she’s been joining the big-name conservative pile-on with Governor Huckabee, and I think she gets just a little too personal and crosses a few too many lines in her attacks, but WOW!!! She’s SMART!!! Her best book (in my not-so-humble opinion) is “Godless: The Church of Liberalism.” In it she details just what lengths liberals go to in order to avoid admitting the utter “religiosity” of their belief systems and just how much they stretch reasonability and rationality in their constant, shrill proclamations that anybody who follows a deity is irreasonable and unrational.

Liberal doctrines are less scientifically provable than the story of Noah’s ark, but their belief system is taught as fact in government schools, while the Biblical belief system is banned from government schools by law. As a matter of faith, liberals believe: Darwinism is a fact, people are born gay, child-molesters can be rehabilitated, recycling is a virtue, and chastity is not. If people are born gay, why hasn’t Darwinism weeded out people who don’t reproduce? (For that, we need a theory of survival of the most fabulous.) And if gays can’t change, why do liberals think child-molesters can? Pedophilia is a sexual preference. If they’re born that way, instead of rehabilitation, how about keeping them locked up? Why must children be taught that recycling is the only answer? Why aren’t we teaching children “safe littering”?

That’s from the opening chapter, and pretty much sums it up. Again, while I think the woman could tone it down a little bit, some of the stuff she says is nowhere near as vile and baseless as the rhetoric coming from the other side. Still, representing Christianity, we don’t get to play by the devil’s rules.

She gives a particularly plain-man’s skillful deconstruction of the theory of evolution, and how liberal belief in it is really a matter of blind faith… I highly recommend those chapters.

Just a side note: I realize these early reviews are a bit sketchy on details and short, but that’s mainly because the early reviews are of books I read awhile back and so, I am, naturally, a bit sketchy on the details. Give me a couple weeks, and I’ll be reviewing stuff that is fresh in my mind. Coming soon is a review on Brother Andrew’s book, “God’s Smuggler” which I am currently reading. Also, not every book I review will be anything close to new, though I will try to keep up with newer material, especially political books.


The Bourne Identity January 5, 2008

Filed under: Book Reviews — Harrison Beckmann @ 5:03 am
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So, everybody’s seen the popular movie series, The Bourne Trilogy, right? Wrong. Not me. Yeah, you heard right, I’ve never seen the movies. I’ve seen a lot of good movies, okay, just not those particular good movies. At least I assume they’re good, but I wouldn’t know, seeing as how I’ve never… yeah, just forget it. I have, however, read the first book which the first movie was based on. I have also read the last two books in the series, which the last two movies were NOT based on. Confused yet? I thought so. Basically, the original series author, Robert Ludlum, wrote three books about Jason Bourne/David Webb. Then, he died. No, not Bourne, idiot, Ludlum! Those three books are the ones the movies have been based on. But, unknown to the general populace (except you of course, because you are smart, reading my book reviews and all), the Robert Ludlum estate let this other guy, who writes a lot like Robert Ludlum, and has a last name a little bit like Ludlum’s, Eric Van Lustbader, write two more books about Jason Bourne/David Webb. Sweet, huh? Well, I thought so, anyways. Okay, so enough history lesson. Time for the book review.

Plot: Well constructed. Well, what am I saying. It was an international bestseller. Of course it had a good plot. Basically, Bourne wakes up on some obscure Island with a drunken doctor to help him recover. He recovers, then goes on a trip around the world, but mostly Europe, to figure out who he is. Along the way, he kills some bad guys, shows that all action heroes really DO have ten lives, not just nine, and all the other good stuff that Jason Bourne does. Oh, did I mention he kidnaps a woman professor, too? I didn’t? Well, good. Thanks for reminding me. He kidnaps a female professor by the name of Marie. Oh, and I’m told that a part not in the movie was about some terrorist named Carlos. Yeah, pretty spooky, eh? Which is really a shame, because, quite honestly, without the added factor of finding, or perhaps avoiding Carlos, the book would be a whole lot worse.

Character: Beautifully done by Mr. Ludlum. His characters, especially his protagonist and the main antagonists, are multi-layered and complex. Kind of like real people. Only kind of. This kind of thing doesn’t happen in real life. Or does it?

Overall, it’s a fairly good read. There’s a few sexually graphic scenes, or maybe it’s just one, I can’t remember exactly, which you kind of have to skip over if you have any sense of decency as regards that type of thing, like I do. Not the most gripping military/political fiction I’ve ever read, but still really cool.

On a scale of 1-10, 10 best, 1 worst:
Plot: 9
Characters: 8
Moral Content: 4
Overall: 7.7

Recommended if you like this type of book.


Greetings and Solicitations. January 4, 2008

Filed under: Uncategorized — Harrison Beckmann @ 6:15 am

Basically, this is a new book review blog. Tell your friends. Tell your enemies. Because I read lots and lots and lots, so you’re gonna get a dose of what I think about what I read.

Now to get the first review up…