On the bookshelf


by Randi Lynn Beach



By Jill Metcoff

Two coffee-table books published by the University of New Mexico Press are filled with absolutely stunning photographs that would make a great addition to anyone's library.

Older Reviews are available on the Archived Page

The Cat’s Eye-- In the President’s Service Series: Episode 13​

​By Ace Collins
(Elk Lake Publishing)
Ace is back with a new series, new heroes and new villains. Helen Meeker works for the President in 1942. Her old team is scattered or dead; her new team consists of a mysterious American Indian woman named Teresa Bryant, and two young men, Napoleon Lancelot and Dizzy Vance. They are looking for Nazi spies in the USA, but a bigger assignment is pending. The Office of Strategic Services (OSS, the precursor to the CIA) wants to send them behind enemy lines in Nazi Germany to help the Underground to destroy a Nazi research center. 

“The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I Story of Treachery, Tragedy, and Extraordinary Heroism”

by John Bacon (Wm Morrow Books)

​It was the most destructive man-made explosion ever on the American hemisphere, destroying most of the Nova Scotia, Canadian port city of Halifax in a 15th of a second. The sonic wave shattered every window pane for up to 5 miles, caused a 35-foot tsunami that swamped ships and tossed them around like toys, and the fireball that accompanied it set the demolished buildings ablaze. 25,000 were made homeless in a less than an instant, as 325 acres were obliterated. Railroad tracks were turned into twisted junk. 

“The Ghost Ship of Brooklyn: An Untold Story of the American Revolution”

By Robert P. Watson (Da Capo Press)

This is a true story: not of ghosts or evil spirits, but of miserable British prison ships during our War for Independence, run by evil men. The truth is more horrible than any fictional account.​

“OSS Operation Black Mail: One Woman’s Covert War Against The Imperial Japanese Army”

by Ann Todd

Naval Institute Press

​Here’s another great true story for Women’s History Month. Elizabeth “Betty” McIntosh spend 18 months with the OSS in the most thrilling adventure of her life, leading a Black Propaganda offensive against the Imperial Japanese soldier. Her mission was to demoralize the average Japanese soldier into deserting or surrendering, and they could seldom be sure that their work was effective or not. The former journalist had a real knack for deception!

“My Father’s Wake—How The Irish Teach Us To Live, Love, and Die”

By Kevin Toolis (Da Capo Press)

​In the South, there are many funeral traditions, passed down to us by our Irish ancestors who came to these shores over the centuries. We visit the family of the deceased, share stories of him/her, weep, mourn, bring food, go to the services, the burial, the home afterward. All these things are a derivation of what the Irish have been doing at wakes for centuries.

“Vindicating the Vixens: Revisiting Sexualized, Vilified, and Marginalized Women of the Bible”

Dr. Sandra Glahn, editor 
Kregel Academics/ Kregel Publications

​​Reading this book profoundly affected my interpretation of many Bible passages, and my understanding of many Biblical women. The essays here will open your eyes to the way that Christians have read the Bible through modern eyes and cultural expectations, particularly Americans.

“Martin Luther: The Man Who Rediscovered God and Changed the World”

By Eric Metaxas (Viking Books)

Modern concepts of the individual, the democratic impulses of the people, came from the Reformation. Luther is known principally for two iconic events: in 1517 his posting of the 95 Theses on the great doors of the Wittenberg Castle Church; and his unyielding courage at the imperial diet in Worms in 1521. He was the “unwitting harbinger of a new world”; the “midwife of the irrevocably divided world”.  Luther was a celebrity, largely due to the communication revolution known as the movable type press which make possible disseminating Luther’s writings across the continent.​


“Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II”

By Liza Mundy

Hatchette Books

​​Months before the Pearl Harbor attack, the US Navy realized it needed to dramatically improve intelligence-gathering operations. They and the US Army put out invitations to college co-eds with special skill in math, and to female math teachers across the country. If they passed the training, they would be hired by the US government for top-secret work as cryptanalysts. They could never, ever talk about it. As war engulfed the nation, secret recruitment letters were sent out yearly. Code-breaking proved crucial to disrupting enemy operations and saving Allied lives. 

“The Cultural Revolution: A People’s History, 1962-1976”

By Frank Dikotter

Bloomsbury Press, in paperback

​There’s a lot of talk today about how America is “more divided than it has ever been”, which betrays a level of ignorance of history that is appalling. Rather than discuss the American Civil War, or the War of 1812 era, allow me to nominate the most horrific example of internal strife in a modern nation. It was a deliberate action of the national leader who was not elected but ascended to power, created a cult of the personality, and with deliberate malice set out to completely demolish all sense of normalcy in that nation. It was partly political but also inspired by the same dark forces that inspired Hitler and Stalin, and their protégés in Cambodia and North Korea.