Category Archives: Book and Media Reviews

Book Review: Leading with Honor

Lee Ellis
FreedomStar Media

Leading with Honor, Leadership Lessons from the Hanoi Hilton, is a unique and outstanding book by former prisoner of war Lee Ellis, an F-4 pilot who spent nearly six years in POW camps in Vietnam. Its stated intent is to pass on “leadership” lessons from the “crucible of captivity.” In truth, it is much more than that: It teaches lessons that are applicable to all of life.

Ellis, who was a 1st Lt at the time, was on his 53rd mission over North Vietnam Read more

Book Review: A Quiet Reality

Chaplain Emilio Marrero, Jr.
FaithWalk Publishing

A Quiet Reality, subtitled A Chaplain’s Journey into Babylon, Iraq, with the I Marine Expeditionary Force, is not just another war story.  A Quiet Reality is unique both for the perspective it lends — a chaplain to US Marines during the invasion of Iraq — and the story it tells — the interaction of the US military with the historic site of Babylon, Iraq.

Chaplain Marrero’s story isn’t told in pure narrative.  Rather, each chapter follows an almost sermon-like style, with a well-told narrative followed by a more deliberate explanation and analysis, with a concluding faith-based story or analogy.  In each case, no matter how dramatic the tale, Chaplain Marrero is able to articulate the “quiet reality” of his experiences. It is a formula that works very well.

The crux of the story is Chaplain Marrero’s work with local Iraqis and US Marines to protect and explore the historic site of Babylon, Read more

Movie Review: “Courageous” Number One in DVD Sales

Courageous, a movie about five men and the challenges of faith, family, and fatherhood, was the number one new movie in America when it hit theatres last fall.  This past week it came out on DVD, where it again hit the top of the charts.  The church-made film reportedly had a budget of around $2 million, a number that belies its nearly Hollywood-worthy production quality.  Box office numbers were in the $34M range.

Four of the men are Albany police Read more

Book Review: Devil at My Heels

Louis Zamperini with David Rensin
Harper Collins, 2003 (2011)

Devil at My Heels is the updated autobiography of Louis Zamperini, an Olympic athlete, B-24 bombardier, POW, and Christian. It seems most people come upon the book by first finding Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, the biography of the same man published around the same time.

Unsurprisingly, much of the text is the same.  It is, after all, the same man’s true story.  The stories are generally identical, though told in slightly different ways.  As noted in the review of Unbroken, Zamperini’s story there is a well told narrative but lacks Read more

Book Review: Unbroken

Laura Hillenbrand
Random House, 2010

Unbroken, A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption is the story of Louis Zamperini — an Olympic athlete, B-24 bombardier, POW, and Christian.

Zamperini is famous as the man who many believed “could have” beaten the 4-minute mile in the 1940s.  At 19, he qualified for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, even getting to shake Hitler’s hand after a 7th place finish — in which he sprinted one of the fastest final laps ever and beat every American time by more than Read more

Book Review: Miracles and Moments of Grace

Nancy Kennedy
Leafwood, 2011

Miracles and Moments of Grace, subtitled Inspiring Stories from Military Chaplains, is a noble attempt at telling the stories of military Chaplains. Each of its 50 chapters is a story from a military Chaplain, most told in a first person narrative.  Almost all of the Chaplains are from a Christian faith tradition; a few Jewish Chaplains are included.

The stories cover the gamut of the modern Chaplaincy, with tales of Chaplains preventing troops’ suicide, notifying families of their Soldier’s death, or giving a first hand account of the bombings in Beirut or Khobar Towers. In that regard, it shows the wide array Read more

Movie Review: American Fighter Pilot

Tony Scott
Hannover House, 2002.
Topic: F-15 Pilot Training

American Fighter Pilot is an 8-episode TV show that followed three USAF F-15 pilots through their training at Tyndall Air Force Base. The show was almost universally panned for its melodramatic and staccato MTV-like editing. From the perspective of a Christian fighter pilot, this TV series was purchased and reviewed purely because of the constant references to the Christianity and fatherhood of one of the three highlighted student pilots.

The editing critiques were accurate; the show was almost difficult to watch because of the editing style. (The basic content of the video was excellent. One can hope that the original was kept and may one day be made into the 90-minute documentary that was purportedly originally planned.)

Ignoring the poor production, the positives Read more

Book Review: Highest Duty – My Search for What Really Matters

HarperCollins, 2009.

Highest Duty: My Search for What Really Matters is the autobiography of the now-celebrity pilot who landed American Airlines Flight 1549 in the Hudson River on 15 January 2009.  Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger is both an Air Force Academy graduate and a former Air Force fighter pilot.

From the perspective of a pilot, Highest Duty is a fascinating read.  The book is well written, managing to string the 3 minute ordeal through 330 pages of Sullenberger’s life without becoming slow or overly tedious.  While his celebrity status was cemented by the ordeal, the book covers not only the emergency landing but also his life story.

One of the more intriguing parts of that “life story” has been the element of faith, but not for the reason most might expect.  Read more

1 2 3 4 6