Category Archives: Book and Media Reviews

Book Review: Pulling Gs: Fighter Pilot Perspectives on Faith

pullinggsHugh Vest
CrossLink Publishing, 2014

Pulling Gs is a unique take on the application of the fighter pilot perspective to the Christian faith. Author Hugh “Huge” Vest is a retired USAF F-16 pilot who deftly takes stories from his vast experience in the fighter pilot world and relates them to similar experiences, joys, and struggles as a Christian.

In each chapter, Huge tells the tale of a significant fighter pilot event — some factual, some fun, some tragic — and then applies it as an analogy to living life and the Christian faith. Each chapter ends with thought-provoking “debrief” questions that encourage introspection and personal challenge.

For example, he describes the concepts and experiences of the eponymous “pulling Gs,” and then describes how people can assess the G-stresses in their own life. At the end of the chapter, Huge asks the reader to consider the stresses in their lives, their sources, and how they cope with them — and to consider if the Christian’s tools of hope and faith can increase their “g-tolerance.”

Huge’s analogies and his interconnection Read more

Book Review: The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight

Winston Groom
National Geographic, 2013.

The Aviators: Eddie Rickenbacker, Jimmy Doolittle, Charles Lindbergh, and the Epic Age of Flight is a combined overview-biography of three of the most famous and influential aviators of the early 20th century. The book essentially follows each man chronologically through his life, but it does so by intertwining their periods of life so that, in some cases, they almost seem to grow up together — which, as contemporaries, they essentially did. This somewhat unique style can be slightly confusing to some readers, as the famous aviator might change from one chapter to the next, but it also provides a very enlightening and important context to what each of those famous pilots did.

There is an interesting contrast, for example, between Lindbergh’s cross-Atlantic voyage, accomplished solely by visual lookout in 1927, with Doolittle’s experimentation with flight instruments and totally “blind flight” two years later in 1929. The varying political views of each aviator through the interwar period and World War II are also interesting when viewed essentially side-by-side and understanding that they came about in the same cultural context.

The Aviators is not a minutely-detailed Read more

Book Review: One of the Few

Jason Ladd
Ladd Publications

The title and cover imagery of One of the Few: A Marine Fighter Pilot’s Reconnaissance of the Christian Worldview recall the iconic slogan of the US Marine Corps: The Few. The Proud. But the book is about far more than the US Marines. One of the Few is also about “one of the few” Christians and fighter pilots in today’s society.

One of the Few is not a traditional book about fighter pilots. The three-part book does chronicle US Marine Jason Ladd’s journey to become a fighter pilot, and his flying as a fighter pilot in combat. More central to the book, however, is the story of Ladd’s journey to becoming a Christ-follower, a journey that only starts with Ladd’s tortured admission he was living as an atheist for many years.

Ladd comes to that realization through Read more

Review: Bardin & Marsee’s Waterproof Bible

The waterproof Bible by Bardin & Marsee Publishing (trademarked as the WATERPROOF BIBLE®) is a unique take on producing and carrying God’s Word.  For those who may want to carefree-carry a Bible into any environment, it may be a very useful option.

The Waterproof Bible meets its primary goal of providing a very durable — and obviously waterproof — means of carrying Scripture. It is available in five translations to which Christians are accustomed, including the popular (but falling out of favor) NIV and the increasingly popular ESV.  The fonts and page color don’t suffer despite the unique material used to substantially increase in durability.

The material will be familiar to Air Force operators, as the paper is the same tear-resistant plasticized paper used in aircrew checklists. The paper accepts notes written with pencil easily. Ballpoint pens may smear very slightly; pens with more flowing wet ink probably shouldn’t be used.

On the down side, the material makes the Waterproof Bible considerably heavier than regular Bibles, particularly when compared to the small or thinline versions popular for pocket-carrying on military missions. That said, the Read more

Book Review: The Oranges are Sweet

Paul M. Sailer
Loden Books, 2011

The Oranges are Sweet is the story of US Army Air Corps Major Don Beerbower, the leading – though seemingly little known – ace of the 9th Air Forces in the European Theater in 1944. The book describes his upbringing in a small Minnesota town to his decision to enlist as an Aviation Cadet in January 1942, even though he probably could have obtained a deferment due to his family business. Beerbower wanted to be a military pilot, and he began his flying career in February 1942.

The early portion of the book traces his journey through the PT-17 Stearman, BT-13 Valiant, AT-6 Texan, and P-36 Hawk until he became an Army pilot and 2nd Lt on 29 September 1942 – the same day he became a husband. He would go on to fly the P-39 Airacobra, bouncing around the western United States as he trained and became an experienced leader, as well as flying in West Coast defense.

He finally arrived in England in November 1943, joining the 353rd Fighter Squadron as the first fighter group to fly P-51B Mustang.

Less than a year later, in July 1944 the 22-year-old Beerbower was Read more

Book Review: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy

Eric Metaxas
Thomas Nelson, 2010

Dietrich Bonhoeffer holds a place in Christian history not unlike William Wilberforce — a man that modern Christians should know, but one most are only vaguely aware of and can’t speak intelligently about. Eric Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, though hefty at more than 500 pages, does an admirable job of communicating the story of Bonhoeffer’s life to modern audiences.

Bonhoeffer is well-written and is fascinating as a narrative that parallels, rather than focuses on, many of the stereotypical storylines of World War II.  While some of the details of Bonhoeffer’s life are interesting, such as his well-to-do upbringing in an essentially agnostic family, the theme most interesting and relevant to modern Christians is Bonhoeffer’s attempts to align his life with his faith.  Though Metaxas received some criticism, he did a generally admirable job of using Bonhoeffer’s own words to explain his faith-based reasoning.

Bonhoeffer is portrayed as a man who grows gradually in his faith as it relates to his life; he did not start out as an ardent political activist and wrap his Read more

Book Review: Memoirs from Babylon

Chaplain Jeff Bryan
Ingram 2011

Memoirs from Babylon, A Combat Chaplain’s life in Iraq’s Triangle of Death, is the story of Chaplain (Capt) Jeff Bryan’s deployment to Iraq with the 10th Mountain Division from 2006 to 2007.

The book stands as one of the better examples of the “day to day” operations of a chaplain deployed to a US military war zone, both for his perspective on the combat itself but also for the duties to which he tended. He tells repeated stories of counseling soldiers who learn of family deaths back home, scrounging a Catholic chaplain to Read more

Book Review: Biblical Ethics

James P. Eckman
Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, 2004.
Topic: Modern ethics

A concise Christian perspective on ethics across the spectrum of modern issues, including culture, politics, and war.

Recommended. While not specific to the Christian fighter pilot, it can provide a greater understanding of the reason a Christian should make the choices he is obligated to.

This book is available from Amazon.

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