Book Pairings: Dictionary Fascination

Because good books can be even better when they’re well-paired.

Fascinated by words? Find history compelling? Enjoy a good memoir? How about a little of all three?

Start with The Professor and the Madman, about the creation of the Oxford English Dictionary. Blending lexicography, history, and biography it’s an amazing look at the incredible feat that the OED really was and is.

Next, move on to a modern look at a dictionary with Word by Word. Part memoir, part behind-the-scenes peek at how it’s done at Merriam-Webster. I don’t often have job envy, but when I do it’s for a job like that.

Don’t think that you have to be a complete word nerd to like either book – sure, it helps, but it’s not a requirement. Both books are compelling enough to satisfy any nonfiction fans, and both provide a lot of discussion fodder. They’d work well as a book pairing for a discussion group!

The Right Word(Have a young reader you’d like to get in on some word fun? Read The Right Word to them. It’s a picture book biography of Peter Mark Roget, and it’s lovely.)

Want still more word goodness? Make sure you follow Merriam-Webster on Twitter. Their social medial game is excellent, and that way you’ll get links to the word of the day, and not miss out on their entertaining tweets.

Find the books:
The Professor and the Madman: A Tale of Murder, Insanity, and the Making of the Oxford English Dictionary by Simon Winchester
Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries by Kory Stamper
Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

The Right Word: Roget and His Thesaurus by Jen Bryant, illustrated by Melissa Sweet
Print | Goodreads

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Lost in Shangri-La by Mitchell Zuckoff

lost-in-shangri-laLost in Shangri-La: A True Story of Survival, Adventure, and the Most Incredible Rescue Mission of World War II by Mitchell Zuckoff

I’ve read so much about World War II but I love that I can still come across new-to-me stories on some aspect of the war. The latest? A rescue mission in New Guinea that had me reading sections out loud to my husband (always a sign of an interesting book). What an incredible story!

The book is filled with photographs, which helps visualize the people and setting. One drawback to reading the book on my Kindle is that the included map was too small to be of much use, so keep that in mind if you’re debating which format.

Zuckoff does a decent job of bringing the individuals to life, but there isn’t as strong an emotional connection with any of them as the very best narrative nonfiction provides. I did appreciate his follow-up interviews in New Guinea, and assume he did the best he could with the historical record available.

There are some definite moments of “can you believe this!” that could lead to a fun discussion, and make me think it would be a good choice as a book club selection.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:

On May 13, 1945, twenty-four American servicemen and WACs boarded a transport plane for a sightseeing trip over Shangri-La, a beautiful and mysterious valley deep within the jungle-covered mountains of Dutch New Guinea. Unlike the peaceful Tibetan monks of James Hilton’s bestselling novel Lost Horizon, this Shangri-La was home to spear-carrying tribesmen, warriors rumored to be cannibals. But the pleasure tour became an unforgettable battle for survival when the plane crashed.

Miraculously, three passengers pulled through. Margaret Hastings, barefoot and burned, had no choice but to wear her dead best friend’s shoes. John McCollom, grieving the death of his twin brother also aboard the plane, masked his grief with stoicism. Kenneth Decker, too, was severely burned and suffered a gaping head wound.

Emotionally devastated, badly injured, and vulnerable to the hidden dangers of the jungle, the trio faced certain death unless they left the crash site. Caught between man-eating headhunters and enemy Japanese, the wounded passengers endured a harrowing hike down the mountainside–a journey into the unknown that would lead them straight into a primitive tribe of superstitious natives who had never before seen a white man or woman.

Drawn from interviews, declassified U.S. Army documents, personal photos and mementos, a survivor’s diary, a rescuer’s journal, and original film footage, Lost in Shangri-La recounts this incredible true-life adventure for the first time. Mitchell Zuckoff reveals how the determined trio–dehydrated, sick, and in pain–traversed the dense jungle to find help; how a brave band of paratroopers risked their own lives to save the survivors; and how a cowboy colonel attempted a previously untested rescue mission to get them out.

By trekking into the New Guinea jungle, visiting remote villages, and rediscovering the crash site, Zuckoff also captures the contemporary natives’ remembrances of the long-ago day when strange creatures fell from the sky. A riveting work of narrative nonfiction that vividly brings to life an odyssey at times terrifying, enlightening, and comic, Lost in Shangri-La is a thrill ride from beginning to end.

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Book Review: Women Heroes of World War II – Pacific Theatre

Women Heroes of World War IIWomen Heroes of World War II—the Pacific Theater: 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage, and Survival by Kathryn J. Atwood

I’ve been highly impressed with Atwood’s earlier books in this series: Women Heroes of World War II, and Women Heroes of World War I, and was thrilled to learn that she had a third being published – this one focused on the Pacific Theater. As with the previous books, she continues her excellent work at writing an engaging and informative text.

I appreciated the introductory information providing background on the war in the Pacific. My history books in high school didn’t do as well at giving that sort of overview – they all seemed to start when Pearl Harbor, ignoring everything that happened to lead up to that.

Especially impressive is the delicate job she does of writing about some horrific events. While I still would be sure you know the sensitivity of your reader, I wouldn’t hesitate to have younger teens and even tweens read it.

Since the book is a compilation of biographical sketches, there isn’t space for a great amount of detail on any one individual. However, the included bibliography gives ideas for other books to read if you want to know more about any specific person or event.

Highly recommended. It’s aimed at teens, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Nook | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
After glamorous American singer Claire Phillips opened her own night club in Manila, using the proceeds to secretly feed starving American POWs, she also began working as a spy, chatting up Japanese military men and passing their secrets along to local guerilla resistance fighters. Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, stationed in Singapore then shipwrecked in the Dutch East Indies, became the sole survivor of a horrible massacre by Japanese soldiers. She hid for days, tending to a seriously wounded British soldier while wounded herself. Humanitarian Elizabeth Choy lived the rest of her life hating only war, not her tormentors, after enduring six months of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police. In these pages, readers will meet these and other courageous women and girls who risked their lives through their involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fifteen suspense-filled stories unfold across China, Japan, Mayala, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, providing an inspiring reminder of women and girls’ refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history. These women—whose stories span from 1932 through 1945, the last year of the war, when U.S. Marines landed on Iwo Jima—served in dangerous roles as spies, medics, journalists, resisters, and saboteurs. Nine of the women were American; seven were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring brutal conditions. Author Kathryn J. Atwood provides appropriate context and framing for teens 14 and up to grapple with these harsh realities of war. Discussion questions and a guide for further study assist readers and educators in learning about this important and often neglected period of history.

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

Three years ago: Introducing 31 More Days of Great Nonfiction

Disclosure: I received a copy of the book from the publisher for review. I was not required to write a positive review, and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Read This, Not That: Under a Flaming Sky instead of Circus Fire

Read this not that Historical FiresCompelling history books are some of my favorites to read, and I’m especially partial to ones that tackle lesser-known events. I’m also not afraid of some gruesome details in my reads, so I didn’t hesitate to try Stewart O’Nan’s nonfiction title Circus Fire: A True Story of an American Tragedy.

Unfortunately, it ended up being a bit of a slow and ultimately I don’t think it was worth the reading time, unless you have some connection to that event which makes it more interesting for you in particular.

Instead, I’ll suggest Under a Flaming Sky: The Great Hinckley Firestorm of 1894 by Daniel James Brown. It’s much more engaging and readable. It is one I often pause before recommending because it isn’t appropriate for all readers (beware if you’re squeamish) but if that’s not an issue for you, it was excellent (as all of his books have been).

I’ve written about Under a Flaming Sky before, so if you’re thinking you remember me mentioning it you’re correct – I did, and then I also included it in my 31 Days of Great Nonfiction series in 2013. It’s an amazing book.

By contrast, Circus Fire is fine. It’s serviceable and you’ll learn about the fire in Hartford in 1944. There are heart-breaking details, but it’s never as compelling a read as Brown’s, and I constantly had to force myself to pick it up again and read more of it. I probably should have bailed on it before finishing, but I was interested in learning some of the outcomes and what eventually ended up happening to people in the years after the fire.

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Introducing May’s Book Club Selection: Empire of the Summer Moon

Empire of the Summer MoonMay’s book for the Facebook book club is Empire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American HistoryEmpire of the Summer Moon: Quanah Parker and the Rise and Fall of the Comanches, the Most Powerful Indian Tribe in American History by S. C. Gwynne by S. C. Gwynne

What It’s About

Excerpt from Goodreads:

[A] vivid historical account of the forty-year battle between Comanche Indians and white settlers for control of the American West, centering on Quanah, the greatest Comanche chief of them all.

Why Was This Title Selected

I wanted a history book for the year, and liked how this focused on a less-familiar time period and subject. Reviews led me to believe it would be fairly readable (not too academic or dry, even if the topic may be challenging), and I’ve found that most of the time books written by journalists tend to be engaging. So, despite no experience with Gwynne’s work, I was hoping that would hold true for him as well.

Anything Else to Know About It?

It was a Goodreads Choice Award Nominee for History and Biography in 2010.

It’s available in print, for Kindle, and on Audible. Heads-up! If you purchase the Kindle version, you can add the Audible version for $3.95.

Discussion about the book is starting next week, so if you’re a fast reader you may still have time to grab the book and join us, but it’s not the quickest read so instead you may want to bow out of this month’s discussion and instead join us next month.

However, don’t delay joining the Facebook group entirely – request to join this week, as I’m delaying starting the book discussion to give us all more time to finish Empire of the Summer Moon and instead will be posting more general bookish questions.

What’s Coming Up in June?

Big Little LiesBig Little LiesBig Little Lies by Liane Moriarty by Liane Moriarty.

Don’t be put off from reading June’s novel because of its length: it is a long one, but Moriarty is easy to read and her books read much quicker than you’d expect based on their size. This should be an easy read after the challenging book for May. Find out more about it at Goodreads.

It’s available in print, for Kindle, or on Audible. .

And a heads-up: you can get the Audible version for a reduced price if you buy the Kindle version first.

See all the books we’ll be reading in 2016 here.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

The Black Count by Tom Reiss (with linkup)

The Black Count The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte CristoThe Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss by Tom Reiss

This month’s book club pick, and I’m really happy that I selected it – it coordinated so well with The Count of Monte Cristo, and added a lot to my appreciation of Dumas’ classic novel.

While I really enjoyed Reiss’ book, it’s not one that I’d recommend to just anyone. Despite being promoted that way, it’s not a true biography, as the available source material for Dumas’ live simply wasn’t there to support that. Instead Reiss has written a history, focusing on one individual and how his experiences were impacted by the world around him.

Dumas lived in a time and place where there were a *lot* of significant historical events to impact his life, so there is a *lot* of history in the book – looking at slavery in what is now Haiti and other French possessions as well as America and the British Empire, the sugar industry, the French Revolution and Republic, Napoleon, his ill-fated Egyptian excursion…

I’m a huge history fan, so I loved (almost) all of it. I got slightly bogged down in some of the military details, such as Dumas’ victory in the Alps and a significant battle in northern Italy. It made such an impression on me I can’t even remember the city, but those issues say more about my lack of interest in military history than Reiss’ writing skill.

If you’re a fan of The Count of Monte Cristo or The Three Musketeers, I think you’ll enjoy this book, for the details about what aspects of those novels were inspired by the general’s life. If you’re not generally a fan of nonfiction, or of history or biography (or biographical history), I don’t think this is the book that will persuade you otherwise, and I’d recommend you skip it.

If you’ve written a post about The Black Count, you’re welcome to add it to the linkup below.

Looking ahead at next month, we’ll start our discussion on The Chosen March 1st. There will be a linkup for posts relating to that book on March 30th.

Link-up Guidelines:

1. Share a post about the book. Entries completely unrelated to this theme or linked to your homepage may be deleted.

2. Link back to The Deliberate Reader – you can use the button below if you’d like, or just use a text link.

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3. The linkup will be open for two weeks.

4. Please visit the person’s blog who linked up directly before you and leave them a comment.

5. By linking up, you’re granting me permission to use and/or repost photographs or comments from your linked post.

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Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: New On Your Stack (vol. 1)

From Stray Dog to World War I Hero

From Stray Dog to World War I HeroFrom Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First DivisionFrom Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division by Grant Hayter-Menzies by Grant Hayter-Menzies

I’m a dog lover, but don’t usually like dog stories. So often they seem to be written just to elicit tears, and that’s not the sort of book I want. Bring in some history with the story though, and you’ve got my interest. So the description of this one sounded like a great choice for me: a little-known story from World War I, about a dog who was a hero for the US.

Except, while I *wanted* to love the story, and while I can appreciate what Rags did from an intellectual standpoint, the book itself left me unaffected. It would have benefited from the emotions those other dog stories bring to their books.

Other reviews all seem to mention the beautiful writing, but clearly I’m still a cranky reader, because I found it to be serviceable writing, but nothing deserving special mention.

Overall, I found myself wishing that a picture book author would discover Rags’ story and turn it into a beautiful children’s book. The known facts of the story are thin enough that it simply doesn’t support a full book like this, but it could work really well as a children’s book, or in a compilation like the National Geographic Kids Animal StoriesNational Geographic Kids Animal Stories: Heartwarming True Tales from the Animal Kingdom book I love so much.

If you’re a dog lover and history buff, you may still enjoy this, but I wouldn’t make much effort to track it down if your library doesn’t already have a copy. It’s fine, but not worth searching out or buying for yourself.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
On the streets of Paris one day in July 1918, an American doughboy, Sgt. Jimmy Donovan, befriended a stray dog that he named Rags. No longer an unwanted street mutt, Rags became the mascot to the entire First Division of the American Expeditionary Force and a friend to the American troops who had crossed the Atlantic to fight. Rags was more than a scruffy face and a wagging tail, however. The little terrier mix was with the division at the crucial battle of Soissons, at the Saint-Mihiel offensive, and finally in the blood-and-mud bath of the Meuse-Argonne, during which he and his guardian were wounded. Despite being surrounded by distraction and danger, Rags learned to carry messages through gunfire, locate broken communications wire for the Signal Corps to repair, and alert soldiers to incoming shells, saving the lives of hundreds of American soldiers. Through it all, he brought inspiration to men with little to hope for, especially in the bitter last days of the war.

From Stray Dog to World War I Hero covers Rags’s entire life story, from the bomb-filled years of war through his secret journey to the United States that began his second life, one just as filled with drama and heartache. In years of peace, Rags served as a reminder to human survivors of what held men together when pushed past their limits by the horrors of battle.

Book Details

Title: From Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First DivisionFrom Stray Dog to World War I Hero: The Paris Terrier Who Joined the First Division by Grant Hayter-Menzies
Author: Grant Hayter-Menzies
Category: Nonfiction / History
My Rating: 2.5 Stars

Disclosure: I received a copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for a review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Reading After Having Children

Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand

SeabiscuitSeabiscuit: An American LegendSeabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand by Laura Hillenbrand

The Expectations

Perhaps taking the award for the most-anticipated, but took-me-the-longest-to-get-through book of the decade.

I’d been saving Seabiscuit for a time when I wanted a guaranteed winner. It’s gotten such amazing reviews, and I loved Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, so of course I’m going to love this, right?

The Reality

It was a book club pick last year, but I ended up having to miss the meeting, so didn’t have that time pressure to get the book finished. And when I finally started reading it I discovered that my high expecations were not going to be reached.

It’s not that it’s a bad book. It has moments where it’s a fantastic book. But they’re interspersed with lots and lots of tedious detail about the specifics of so. many. races.

Can you tell I have no real interest in horse racing?

The Verdict

I loved the parts about the people involved. I loved the strategy behind some of the training methods. I did not love reading about the races themselves, but once I realized that I didn’t have to read every last word about the races, I enjoyed the book a lot more. Yes, I skimmed the race descriptions, and I’m not ashamed to admit it.

It’s a hard one to rate. The parts I liked were a solid 4, but the parts I didn’t were a 2 at best. I ended up going with a 3 figuring that balanced it out, but be warned that I thought it was an inconsistent one.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
Seabiscuit was one of the most electrifying and popular attractions in sports history and the single biggest newsmaker in the world in 1938, receiving more coverage than FDR, Hitler, or Mussolini. But his success was a surprise to the racing establishment, which had written off the crooked-legged racehorse with the sad tail. Three men changed Seabiscuit’s fortunes:

Charles Howard was a onetime bicycle repairman who introduced the automobile to the western United States and became an overnight millionaire. When he needed a trainer for his new racehorses, he hired Tom Smith, a mysterious mustang breaker from the Colorado plains. Smith urged Howard to buy Seabiscuit for a bargain-basement price, then hired as his jockey Red Pollard, a failed boxer who was blind in one eye, half-crippled, and prone to quoting passages from Ralph Waldo Emerson. Over four years, these unlikely partners survived a phenomenal run of bad fortune, conspiracy, and severe injury to transform Seabiscuit from a neurotic, pathologically indolent also-ran into an American sports icon.

Author Laura Hillenbrand brilliantly re-creates a universal underdog story, one that proves life is a horse race.

Book Details

Title: Seabiscuit: An American LegendSeabiscuit: An American Legend by Laura Hillenbrand
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Category: Nonfiction / History
My Rating: 3 Stars

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: January 2015 Recap

The Oregon Trail by Rinker Buck

The Oregon TrailThe Oregon Trail: A New American JourneyThe Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck by Rinker Buck

I wavered on what star rating to give this, and settled on 3. What was my hesitation? While I generally really enjoyed the book, and wanted to give it 4, I had some real issues with it that keep me from giving it that high of a rating.

The book is fascinating, and I loved how obsessive Buck is at detailing the history of so. many. aspects. of the trail. There’s an extensive section on the history of the mule (really), more on wagons, Mormon history, and more. Anyone who isn’t a major history fan is probably going to get bogged down in some of these details, and it’d be hard to recommend this book lightly (it’s almost 500 pages, so it’s quite the reading commitment).

I read the book while we road tripped, and that was a great way to experience it. Also great is to break it up – read a (long) chapter, and then read something else.

While I enjoyed all of the “trail stories” and most of the history lessons, I was less impressed with some of the sections about Buck’s issues with his father. Many of them seemed like they could have been cut out without harming the overall narrative of the book. I get that it was important to Buck, but as the book went on I got tired of feeling like an observer as he exorcised paternal demons on the trail. (As a side not, I also really wondered about the story with Buck’s mother – there is so much about his father and I don’t’ remember a single mention of his mother. He’s one of 11 kids, so clearly she existed, but was she that much of a non-entity in his life? The contrast was striking. Or maybe there are just no issued with her, so nothing to “work out” and no book fodder?)

Where I was really annoyed with the book was when Buck interjects his politics and pet peeves into the narrative. There are regular rants about RV drivers and retirees, and how Americans don’t read. Um, Buck, I’m reading your book right now. Why do you make me feel like you’re insulting me in the midst of it?

And while I should be used to it, the seemingly-obligatory remarks about conservatives, Fox News & their “idiotic” viewers just annoys me. No, I don’t watch it myself, so I’m not speaking from hurt feelings, but it was so out of place and unnecessary. My mother-in-law is a devoted Fox News watcher, and she bought the book – she’s the one who originally told me about it. I’m sure she loved getting to the part where he trashes her for her TV habits and political beliefs. There was also a section where he compares a hateful rancher to all law enforcement. Sure, there are law enforcement officers who are on power trips like that rancher, but *all* of them?

Buck also has a lot to say about the Mormons, most of it not so complimentary, but most of it is tied to the trail and trail history, so in general that didn’t bug me. His musings on all religions weren’t necessary, or helpful. The book was already so long – these portions could easily have been cut without harming the story, and would keep potential readers from being insulted.

And I think that’s really what bugged me the most about his asides – they were so unnecessary to the story, and with a book that is already that long, opportunities to trim the length should have been embraced. I want this to be a book that I can enthusiastically suggest, and the bloated feel to it all makes me hesitant to do that. It was fascinating, but you’ve got to really want to read it, and he doesn’t make it all that easy at times.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Audible | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
In the bestselling tradition of Bill Bryson and Tony Horwitz, Rinker Buck’s “The Oregon Trail” is a major work of participatory history: an epic account of traveling the 2,000-mile length of the Oregon Trail the old-fashioned way, in a covered wagon with a team of mules–which hasn’t been done in a century–that also tells the rich history of the trail, the people who made the migration, and its significance to the country.

Spanning 2,000 miles and traversing six states from Missouri to the Pacific Ocean, the Oregon Trail is the route that made America. In the fifteen years before the Civil War, when 400,000 pioneers used it to emigrate West–historians still regard this as the largest land migration of all time–the trail united the coasts, doubled the size of the country, and laid the groundwork for the railroads. The trail years also solidified the American character: our plucky determination in the face of adversity, our impetuous cycle of financial bubbles and busts, the fractious clash of ethnic populations competing for the same jobs and space. Today, amazingly, the trail is all but forgotten.

Rinker Buck is no stranger to grand adventures. “The New Yorker “described his first travel narrative, “Flight of Passage,” as “a funny, cocky gem of a book,” and with “The Oregon Trail “he seeks to bring the most important road in American history back to life. At once a majestic American journey, a significant work of history, and a personal saga reminiscent of bestsellers by Bill Bryson and Cheryl Strayed, the book tells the story of Buck’s 2,000-mile expedition across the plains with tremendous humor and heart. He was accompanied by three cantankerous mules, his boisterous brother, Nick, and an “incurably filthy” Jack Russell terrier named Olive Oyl.

Along the way, Buck dodges thunderstorms in Nebraska, chases his runaway mules across miles of Wyoming plains, scouts more than five hundred miles of nearly vanished trail on foot, crosses the Rockies, makes desperate fifty-mile forced marches for water, and repairs so many broken wheels and axels that he nearly reinvents the art of wagon travel itself. Apart from charting his own geographical and emotional adventure, Buck introduces readers to the evangelists, shysters, natives, trailblazers, and everyday dreamers who were among the first of the pioneers to make the journey west. With a rare narrative power, a refreshing candor about his own weakness and mistakes, and an extremely attractive obsession for history and travel, “The Oregon Trail” draws readers into the journey of a lifetime.

Book Details

Title: The Oregon Trail: A New American JourneyThe Oregon Trail: A New American Journey by Rinker Buck
Author: Rinker Buck
Category: Nonfiction / Memoir / History
My Rating: 3 Stars

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God’s Bestseller by Brian Moynahan

God's BestsellerGod’s Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible–A Story of Martyrdom and BetrayalGod's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible--A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal by Brian Moynahan by Brian Moynahan

Despite what the title might lead you to believe, this isn’t really a religious book. It’s a history book, telling the story behind the English Bible and the man who did so much of that translating.

It was assigned reading for a class I took in grad school, and I was thrilled to discover it was a fascinating account. Moynahan’s work gave me a deeper understanding of the King James Translation – I had never known that so much of that translation was actually based on Tyndale’s earlier work. Kind of funny, isn’t it? He was put to death by the King of England for translating the Bible into English, and later years another King of England had his name attached to a translation that used a large amount of that “heretic’s” work.

Wondering why you should care about these ancient events and personalities? Tyndale’s impact on the later King James translation has resulted in his continuing influence on our language today. It’s an amazing story, and I found myself wishing he’d lived long enough to finish translating the Old Testament.

Find the book: Print | Kindle | Goodreads

Publisher’s Description:
The English Bible—the mot familiar book in our language—is the product of a man who was exiled, vilified, betrayed, then strangled, then burnt.

William Tyndale left England in 1524 to translate the word of God into English. This was heresy, punishable by death. Sir Thomas More, hailed as a saint and a man for all seasons, considered it his divine duty to pursue Tyndale. He did so with an obsessive ferocity that, in all probability, led to Tyndale’s capture and death.

The words that Tyndale wrote during his desperate exile have a beauty and familiarity that still resonate across the English-speaking world: “Death, where is thy sting?…eat, drink, and be merry…our Father which art in heaven.”

His New Testament, which he translated, edited, financed, printed, and smuggled into England in 1526, passed with few changes into subsequent versions of the Bible. So did those books of the Old Testament that he lived to finish.

Brian Moynahan’s lucid and meticulously researched biography illuminates Tyndale’s life, from his childhood in England, to his death outside Brussels. It chronicles the birth pangs of the Reformation, the wrath of Henry VIII, the sympathy of Anne Boleyn, and the consuming malice of Thomas More. Above all, it reveals the English Bible as a labor of love, for which a man in an age more spiritual than our own willingly gave his life.

Book Details

Title: God’s Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible–A Story of Martyrdom and BetrayalGod's Bestseller: William Tyndale, Thomas More, and the Writing of the English Bible--A Story of Martyrdom and Betrayal by Brian Moynahan
Author: Brian Moynahan
Category: Nonfiction / History / Biography
My Rating: 4.5 Stars

Previously on The Deliberate Reader

One year ago: Yes, Chef

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting The Deliberate Reader!