Category Archives: Educational

The Memoirs of General W. T. Sherman

Time travel is fun. Some authors are extraordinary for being able to transport you to another time period. Some authors don’t have to transport you to another time because they are already from another time.

The Memoirs of W. T. Sherman
By Himself
1875

A few years back I found myself reading the Memoirs of U. S. Grant. It seemed that for a few months I kept running into statements claiming that General Grant had written the finest set of memoirs ever penned by a Unites States President. I took and plunge and discovered a fascinating life described in a beautiful clear lucid prose. Grant could write!

I only mention Grant’s memoirs because they were the incentive to tackle General Sherman’s memoirs as well. Much to my surprise (though I don’t know why I was surprised) I discovered that Sherman could also write. The prose is a bit wordy but straightforward, clear, and penetrating. You can see how such thinking made a real difference in the outcome of the Civil War.

There is something beautiful and simple about reading Sherman’s accounts of the war and the times. He tells of captured officers being invited to dine with the Union commanders and offered horses to ride befitting their rank. At other times he muses about how cavalry can never overcome infantry but will always be necessary for a successful war campaign. He talks about the need for a good supply of coffee and discusses the merits of some coffee substitutes.

You also discover that General Sherman did more than march through Georgia. During the Mexican American War he was stationed in California. This assignment placed him in the bay area in 1848 when gold was discovered at Sutter’s mill. Later he managed a bank in San Francisco when the vicissitudes of the gold rush created severe panic as well as boom times. It would surprise many to learn that when Lincoln was elected Sherman was leading a small military school in Louisiana that would later become LSU.

Anyone who has even a passing interest in this period of American history will find this a fascinating read. There is much to feast on here. My two favorite moments are probably Sherman’s encouragement likely keeping Grant from resigning after Shiloh and the striking circumstances surrounding Sherman being notified of Lincoln’s assassination.

It’s a fairly long book and filled with a lot of source material such as letters and battle reports, but altogether a book well worth reading.


Ronnie Meek is is a guy who likes to share good reads with other people and warn them about boring or bad stuff. His personal blog is It’s In There Somewhere where he is currently blogging through the New Testament.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Does God Exist? from Focus on the Family

Normally at BookGateway.com we books for review from publishers but occasionally they will send us a DVD set to check out. This is one of those times. Tyndale and Focus on the Family launched a new line of DVD training / seminars for college age viewers focused on answering questions about the fundamentals of the Christian faith and in an effort to build a deeper and more trustworthy faith. This is volume one in that series.

Does God Exist?
Building the Scientific Case
by Focus on the Family
2010

Dr. Stephen Meyer, of the Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture is a Cambridge University trained doctor of history and philosophy of science, is the main speaker and the video is filmed on a set created to look like and function as a classroom. His teaching style is to question ideas and share philosophies with the students and allow interaction and conclusions to come by way of conversation. The viewers learn by watching the natural progression of thought.

Meyer focuses on topics having to do with science, something that Christians aren’t always as open to as they should be, like, the Big Bang, DNA, and what he calls the “moral necessity of theism.” Obviously all these topics are from the Christian perspective and while Meyer is most likely a fundamentalist he doesn’t focus on inter-Christian divisive issues like young earth creationism or local flood and the like. As such, Meyer does a better job of staying on topic and educating instead of inciting as so many Christian’s who speak on this topic do. The set comes with two DVDs and a 60+ page full color booklet that can be used to follow along with the teaching.

Meyer and Focus on the Family do an admiral job working through the issue of whether or not science supports the possibility of a god. My only concern is that I felt like I was in a classroom in college where I had to take notes but couldn’t ask questions. To resolve this concern, the information and conversation would be great as a starting point in a small group or classroom. This would allow for conversation and digestion of the information instead of just having it handed to you.

Does God Exists? is a very well made and intellectually honest DVD set with a well respected and educated facilitator that Christians who are interested in how to reconcile science with religion should pick up and then work with a group to watch. I highly recommend it as a group discussion vehicle or small group curriculum.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on current events and Christianity.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites …and Other Lies You’ve Been Told by Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD

Sociologist Brad Wright shatters popular myths by sifting through the best available data. He reveals how Christians are doing when it comes to everything from marriage and morality to church growth and public perception. The book gives you the truth behind the statistics and how the numbers are being manipulated.

Christians Are Hate-Filled Hypocrites
…and Other Lies You’ve Been Told

by Bradley R.E. Wright, PhD
Bethany House
July 2010

Here are some facts that might surprise you:

    Evangelicals are more respected by society today than they were twenty yeas ago.
    Divorce rates of Christian couples are lower than those of nonbelievers.
    The percentage of people who attend church has held steady over the past twenty years.

The book is about myths and misconceptions regarding Christianity – especially Evangelical Christians. Mark Regnerus writes – It is a welcome, calming voice to the cacophony of data interpreters of American evangelicalism. Scott McKnight states it is an extremely needed book that is a delight to read,

If you are into charts, graphs and historical data – this is a book for you; Dr. Wright does an excellent job of getting his point across and diffusing christian myths and misconception.

The book has a lot of information, but I wasn’t too impressed. I, myself, am not into charts and graphs. and do not pay much attention to myths regarding Christianity.


Mary Asher, the Golden Reviewer, is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She describes herself as “An 80 year old avid reader reviews the newest in Christian fiction and non-fiction with a sprinkle of the secular on top.”.

Hot X:Algebra Exposed by Danica McKellar

Danica McKeller is a genius! One of the subjects most in need of some excitement is math and she found a way to do that. McKeller takes the subject of algebra and curls its hair, does its makeup and buys it a new gown. We are left with an amazingly easy (and fun) to read book that takes the mystery out of the feared subject. Each section has info on the topic at hand, then peppers in Quick Notes (tips), Step-by-Step examples (showing work), Takeaway Tips (reminders) and a bunch of examples on how to do the topic.

I was so enamoured with the book that I gave it to my daughter who is 11 years old to see what she thought (and how this played out with the target audience. After all, every parent is looking for the next best way to help their children learn but we all wonder if it actually works.) Here is what she said about the book:

Arieltopia: This book was about how easy algebra is when you understand how to do it. I think it is a great book and I recommend it for all young ladies in junior high through high school. Girls only because it talks a little about guys, but not anything parents would need to worry about. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you do too. The author has also written two other math-related novels. This book is written by the New York bestselling author of Math Doesn’t Suck: How to Survive Middle School Math Without Losing Your Mind or Breaking a Nail. Her other book is titled Kiss My Math: Showing Pre-Algebra Who’s Boss. The three are related and at the bottom of every page, page numbers in the other books are listed in case you are either lost or just do not understand. This book really does help. My math grade increased alot and I can only use some of the facinating algebra tips in this book. Just think what it would do for girls in high school! I really learned alot of cool math tricks and I hope you pick up a copy of this book right away!

I agree. This is a great resource for parents and teens alike.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. He reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com and previously on Bookboro. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people.

Arieltopia is a founding book blogger for BookGateway.com and has generously provided this review. She is an 11 year old avid reader – usually going through a book a day – who gives readers a unique perspective on Young Adult and Teen Fiction; an actual teenager’s perspective. Her blog is http://Arieltopia.blogspot.com.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.

Support BookGateway.com by purchasing this book through Amazon: Hot X: Algebra Exposed

The Search to Belong by Joseph R. Myers

I think I have a new rule. Never buy a book from someone who describes themselves as any of the following: thinker, multipreneur, interventionist or futurist. This new rule has nothing to do with whether or not I enjoyed this book. It’s based more on the fact that even now I really dislike seeing these terms on the cover of the book. I dislike people making up new words that they take seriously! What about titles that are – well should be – prerequisites of writing a book? “Oh, you’re a thinker? Well, I better buy your book!” Glad that’s finally off my chest!

The Search to Belong by “futurist” Joseph R. Myers is “a practical guide for pastors and church leaders who struggle building community that values belonging over believing” according to the back title. Sarcasm aside, Meyers does bring some helpful information to the reader that does what he promises.

Myers does a very good job of explaining his opinions about the four types of belonging (public, social, personal, and intimate.) I was impressed by his argument that it’s OK for people in the church to stay in the public or social spaces; we don’t need to, and shouldn’t try to, push people towards intimacy.

While reading the book I couldn’t help but compare my own church, Springhouse Worship & Arts Center, with the principles that Myers was commenting on. Did Springhouse push people towards uncomfortable belonging spaces? Does Springhouse have a “front porch?”

My main complaint with the book was how dry it was. There were parts that weren’t interesting and were a challenge to get through. It picks up by the end and I do believe it is worthwhile to read.


Scott Asher is the founder and administrator of BookGateway.com. Along with his contributions to BookGateway, he reviews for the commercial site BuddyHollywood.com. His personal blog is AshertopiA – a land flowing with milk and honey… and a lot of sticky people where he cartoons and writes on anything he finds funny and Christianity, which sometimes overlap.

This book was provided by the publisher as a review copy.