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It’s grimly amusing sometimes to watch people who do not know much about religious faith in general, and about Christianity in particular, instructing their intellectual inferiors in the meaning of terms like “fundamentalist” and “conservative” and “liberal”.  It’s as if a bright Labrador Retriever were to deliver opinions on the Doorknob Principle, or the Origin of Food.

– Anthony Essolen, in the Mere Comments section of Touchstone Magazine


The Drillmaster of Valley Forge:
The Baron De Steuben and the Making of the American Army

I’m about halfway through. VERY good stuff.

We Are Soldiers Still

By Harold G. Moore, Joseph L. Galloway

If you read We Were Soldiers Once, And Young, then this is a must read. Follow-up to the account of one of the bloodiest battles of the Viet Nam war – 1st Cav almost over-run and wiped out by N. Vietnamese regulars. Marred by Gen. Moore’s attack in the final chapter on President Bush, but still a great read.

The Franco-Prussian War 1870-1871

It’s amazing how little we know about what happened in Europe in the 1800s. Completing my own education.

We the People
The Story of the Constitution

By Lynne Cheney

Just came in today. Looks very good. I’ll be reviewing it for Greenleaf later.

Our White House: Looking In, Looking Out

Created by 108 Renowned Authors and Illustrators

Also came in today. Also looks very good

The Lodger Shakespeare:
His Life on Silver Street

By Charles Nicholl

Fascinating – if you’re interested in Shakespeare. If you’re not, this will seem much ado about very little

Mysteries of the Middle Ages:
And the Beginning of the Modern World

By Thomas Cahill

A great disappointment – How the Irish Saved Civilization is brilliant. This seems contrived and self-indulgent.

The Almost True Story of Ryan Fisher: A Novel

By Rob Stennett

Brilliant. Outrageously funny. Provocative. What if a realtor joined a church in order to market himself to Christians – knowing that he, himself, is NOT a Christian – and wound up planting his own mega-church?

The Professor and the Madman:
A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary

By Simon Winchester

The OED story is fascinating, in and of itself. Mix in a mysterious retired American military officer who has contributed 1,000’s of quotations and you have a most intriguing story.

Armageddon: The Battle for Germany, 1944-1945

By Max Hastings

We know the story of D-Day, so we think we know the story of how Germany was defeated. The year-long battle was harrowing, terrifying, and apocalyptic in the East. Frightening stories from soldiers & civilians describing what happened at ground level. Well-written

Triple Cross:
How bin Laden’s Master Spy Penetrated the CIA, the Green Berets, and the FBI–and Why Patrick Fitzgerald Failed to Stop Him

By Peter Lance

The title explains it all. Truly frightening and maddening story about how security in the US was compromised. Shows something of the caliber and planning of Al Qaeda. Well-documented and researched.

Islam At The Gates:
How Christendom Defeated the Ottoman Turks

By Diane Moczar

This has happened before.

Economics in One Lesson:
The Shortest and Surest Way to Understand Basic Economics

By Henry Hazlitt

Consider the consequences of policy for everyone – and long-term as well short-term.

With numerous examples of what goes wrong when you don’t!

Homeschool: An American History

By Milton Gaither

From colonial to modern times, with an emphasis on the modern movement – by a Professor of Education who is NOT a homeschooler, but not wholly unsympathetic to the movement. Pretty fair treatment of both secular and religious groups.

Why We’re Not Emergent:
By Two Guys Who Should Be

By Kevin DeYoung and Ted Kluck

Cause the Emergent guys are squishy on the Bible, the creeds, and anything that might put them in that embarrassing “Christian” box.

I Was Vermeer:
The Rise and Fall of the Twentieth Century’s Greatest Forger

By Frank Wynne

Turns out he fooled lots of museums and collectors. And they don’t want to know or find out that their prize possession is a forgery. Scary.

What Hath God Wrought:
The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 (Oxford History of the United States)

By Daniel Walker Howe

Serious history. VERY well-written, thorough and comprehensive. If you want to understand the transition from the founders to the Civil War era, there is no better book.

Climate Change
(DK Eyewitness Books)

By John Woodward

Opposition research.

And that’s what I did on my summer vacation

– Rob Shearer (aka RedHatRob)
Publisher, Greenleaf Press
Director, Schaeffer Study Center

“I would rather live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.” – William F. Buckley

It didn’t take 15 minutes after John McCain’s announcement of Sarah Palin as his running mate before she was being denounced as “lacking experience.” This provoked guffaws of course, especially when the issued is raised from the campaign of Barack Obama, who is less than four years into his first term as a United States Senator.

There are two kinds of experience in elected office, and they are radically different. On the one hand, are those who are elected as legislators. On the other are those who are elected as executives. It is a mistake to lump them together.

I would value much more highly any presidential candidate’s experience as an elected executive – city mayor, county mayor, governor – than any candidate’s experience as a legislator. The experience of a legislator is vastly different. A legislator acts officially only when his legislative body is in session. He (or she) usually has the leisure of time to ponder positions, background papers, and briefings with a great deal of advance notice before actually having to make a decision, take a position or cast a vote. Not so an elected executive. They must make hundreds of important decisions on a daily, weekly, monthly basis – and they rarely if ever have the luxury of time.

In fact, Sarah Palin is perhaps the BEST qualified of the four (Obama, Biden, McCain, Palin) to assume the duties of the presidency.

And don’t even get me started about how small Wasilla is… or the fact that Alaska has a population considerably less than a million. Have you looked up the census figures on Delaware? Delaware has three counties and ONE congressman. Being elected to the US Senate from Delaware is not much tougher than being elected to the state legislature in many other states.

Delaware has 1,954 square miles making it the 49th smallest state. Anyone know how big Alaska is? Class? That’s right, Ferris. 656,525 square miles. Or roughly 335 times larger than Delaware.

Any other questions?

– Rob Shearer (aka RedHatRob)

Some of our best presidents have moved up from the office of Governor.

Look over this list of “modern” presidents (since Lincoln)

1860 Lincoln – Congressman from Illinois (he had served one term 1846-1848)
1868 Grant – General of the Army
1876 Hayes – Governor of Ohio
1880 Garfield – Congressman from Ohio (the only sitting congressman ever elected President)
1881 Arthur – Collector of the Port of New York (administrator of the Customs House)
1888 Harrison – Senator from Indiana
1892 Cleveland – Governor of New York
1896 McKinley – Governor of Ohio
1904 Roosevelt – Governor of New York
1908 Taft – Secretary of War
1912 Wilson – Governor of New Jersey
1920 Harding – Senator from Ohio (first sitting Senator ever elected President)
1924 Coolidge – Governor of Massachusetts
1928 Hoover – Commerce Secretary
1932 Roosevelt – Governor of New York
1948 Truman – Vice-President, Senator from Missouri
1952 Eisenhower – General of the Army
1960 Kennedy – Senator from Massachusetts
1964 Johnson – Senator from Texas
1968 Nixon – Vice-President, Senator from California
1976 Carter – Governor of Georgia
1980 Reagan – Governor of California
1988 Bush – Vice-President, Congressman from Texas
1992 Clinton – Governor of Arkansas
2000 Bush – Governor of Texas

Before we go judging Sarah Palin’s resume too harshly, it’s worth remembering a governor chosen vice-president a century ago.

A governor who had served less than two years of his first term when he was placed on the ticket as Vice-President.

He had reputation as a maverick with an explosive temper. As a state legislator, he had once threatened his committee members with a broken chair leg. His private life had caused raised eyebrows as well. When his wife died shortly after the birth of their first child, he abandoned his infant daughter to the care of relatives and fled town – not returning for almost three years.

He was only 41, and when he was unexpectedly elevated to the presidency the press and pundits of the day ranged from skeptical to scathing. He was dubbed “His Accidency.”

Nonetheless, Theodore Roosevelt went on to prove the critics wrong and proved quite successful as President. He remains the only US President to have won both the Nobel Peace Prize and the Congressional Medal of Honor.

Which one of these looks more like Teddy to you?

– Rob Shearer (aka RedHatRob)


I am a sucker for pop-up books. I confess. My wife, children, and everyone who’s worked for Greenleaf Press over the years can confirm this.

I find them fascinating. They are intricate solutions to design challenges – little machines made out of paper that magically transform from 2-dimensional to 3-dimensional as you turn the pages.

I have finally found what I think is the ultimate high-brow pop-up book. After all, it invokes The British Museum on the cover! The Ancient Egypt Pop-Up Book in association with The British Museum.

And it really is wonderful.

There is a marvelous pop-up Egyptian boat.

Complete with a shaduff on-shore, showing how the Egyptians raised water from the Nile for irrigation.

There is the warrior-Pharaoh Rameses II in his fighting chariot at the battle of Kadesh.

There is a wonderful 3-D depiction of Hatshepsut’s temple at Deir el-Bahri

Also included is a 3-D representation of Tut’s gold death-mask, and underneath, cleverly folded, is his mummified head.

The Ancient Egypt pop-up book is $29.95, available directly from Greenleaf Press.

Incidentally, in the background is a wonderful fold-out depiction of life in Ancient Rome, including views of the Senate, the colosseum, and daily life in a Roman villa.

The entire connected scene folds out to four feet long.

Rome: A Fold-Out History of the Ancient Civilization is $17.95, directly from Greenleaf Press.

– Rob Shearer, Publisher
Greenleaf Press

Joan of Arc by Kathleen Kudlinski

DK has started a new biography series that is quite impressive. It has all the features which have distinguished DK over the years – first and foremost an impressive collection of visual images and an appealing layout rich in details. The marriage of photographic sources with narrative biography is a natural for many of the subjects in the first several dozen titles released – but there is one unusual choice – Joan of Arc. One would not expect there to be such a rich collection of images associated with her, but there are. And they make her story that much more interesting and dramatic. The house where Joan grew up has been preserved (and the photographs are fascinating). As are the contemporary portraits of the King of France and key members of his court. Joan continues to fascinate. She is a national heroine in France. Her conviction as a heretic was reversed 25 years after her death and in the 20th century she was canonized as a Saint.

Text is targeted for ages 10 and up – the pictures make it an easy read for any age. Best of all is the affordable price: $4.99 – available directly from Greenleaf Press.

National Geographic also has a new biography series. Their “world history” biography series has an impressive top-notch selection of authors and subjects. There are three of them out in paperback so far: Hatshepsut, Leonardo Da Vinci, and Elizabeth I. Like the DK series, each is profusely illustrated with four color illustrations on every page, as well as maps, charts, and photographs of historic locations as they appear today. The text is targeted at an 8-12 year old reading level, but each biography is well-told and will inform older readers through adults. Each biography is $7.95 and is available directly from Greenleaf Press:

Hatshepsut, The Princess Who Became King, by Ellen Galford

Leonard Da Vinci, The Genius Who Defined the Renaissance by John Phillips

Elizabeth I, The Outcast Who Became England’s Queen by Simon Adams

Other titles, scheduled for release in the near future include Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Joan of Arc, Saladin, Eleanor of Aquitaine, Michelangelo, Galileo, and Isaac Newton

All of these are new for 2008. We now have over 1400 titles reviewed and available for sale on the Greenleaf web site. They’ve all been individually selected and reviewed by Rob personally. If, for any reason, you’re not satisfied with a book you’ve ordered from us, you can return it unconditionally for a full refund of the purchase price.

I’ll have some more reviews to share next week – Cheryl Harness has some great new presidential biographies out, among other new titles

“. . . modern times did not develop in ways the generation of 1920 would have considered ‘logical.’

[. . .]

“The outstanding event of modern times was the failure of religious belief to disappear.”

[. . .]

“What looked antiquated, even risible, in the 1990s was not religious belief but the confident prediction of its demise once provided by Feuerbach and Marx, Durkheim and Frazer, Lenin, Wells, Shaw, Gide, Sartre and many others.”

  • Paul Johnson, Modern Times, page 700 in Chapter 20 on “The Recovery of Freedom

Today’s Western Civ Four class concluded with a discussion of the last chapter of Johnson’s book. Twenty-five years after its first publication, and 17 years after he added the more upbeat, concluding chapter, Johnson’s work holds up extremely well.

Johnson’s overarching thesis is that the 20th century saw politics replace religion as the “one legitimate form of moral activity.” The results were a tragedy of world historical proportions. Now, as we look back on the bloody excesses of the 20th century, there is hope that mankind may be regaining some perspective. The state cannot reshape human nature. The state cannot usher in a utopia. The state, given free reign, turns out to be a murderous tyrant.

Mankind was saved from the twin evils of politics and statism by the arrival, sequentially, of Karol Wojtyla (Pope John Paul II), Margaret Thatcher, and Ronald Reagan.

I have a message of hope and good cheer for you, gentle reader: The 21st century, like the 20th, will NOT develop in predictable ways – certainly not in ways foreseen by the pundits of the dying liberal intelligentsia. There IS hope. There ARE signs that God continues to build his kingdom. The vibrancy of the church in China and in Africa gives hope. The collapse of the liberal elites (both secular and religious) in the West proceeds and even in some cases appears to be accelerating.

Keep watching. Keep praying. Keep following Jesus. And wait and see what God will do.

Somebody in Kentucky has my kind of sense of humor.

monica’s x

hat tip to Mark Tapscott of the Washington Examiner.

– Rob Shearer
Director, Schaeffer Study Center
Publisher, Greenleaf Press

Pope BenedictPope Benedict gave a short, interesting, and profound speech on Friday. Of course, you won’t read about it in any of the mainstream media. Or if you do, it will be framed in a way that obscures and distorts its meaning. He was speaking to a meeting of the Centrist Democrat International, an international alliance of political parties devoted to promoting the idea of Christian Democracy. The member parties are drawn primarily from Europe and Latin America.

He called on the delgates to “prevent the dissemination and entrenchment of ideologies which obscure and confuse consciences by promoting an illusory vision of truth and goodness.”

And what are some of the illusions?

  • Financial gain as the only good;
  • it is legitimate to destroy life in its earliest or final states;
  • the fundamental nucleus of society is [not] the indissoluble bond of marriage between a man and a woman.

The Pope said those are ILLUSIONS. And called upon Christian politicians to oppose them. I think the Pope is fundamentally correct when he asserts that these are not just Roman Catholic positions on the most important issues of the day – they are the Christian, biblical positions.

The Pope went on to defend the idea of religious liberty — for ALL religions. He said “religious freedom is a fundamental expression of respect for human reason and its capacity to know truth.”

And then he threw down the gauntlet to the Islamic world: “The exercise of this freedom also includes the right to change religion, which should be guaranteed not only legally, but also in daily practice.”

Because the mainstream media are so clueless on a)all matters of religion;  and b)anything having to do with the Pope, I would urge you to read the Pope’s speech for yourself. In fact, because the media do such terrible filtering and distorting, I’d urge you to read speeches by any political figure for yourself — but especially those by the Pope and by President Bush. Here’s a .pdf of the Pope’s speech taken from the Vatican website. Highlights are mine.

hat tip to the blog, Atlas Shrugs, where I ran across a reference to the speech.

-Rob Shearer
  Director, Schaeffer Study Center