Page by Page: Book Reviews

Jesus, Son of Aslan

For some readers, this may be a new and exciting–even revolutionary!–perspective on the historical Jesus. Aslan certainly hopes so: he describes Zealot as the culmination of “two decades of rigorous academic research into the origins of Christianity.” For scholars, however, Aslan’s research is neither novel nor especially rigorous. It is clear that Aslan has indeed been fascinated by the historical Jesus since his teenage years, but he is not an academic specialist in the New Testament or in early Christianity, and he does himself a disservice by portraying himself as one.

Akin For A Fight

“What is important in this volume is not necessarily Akin’s history of his career. Rather the book illustrates the key characteristics of many in the Christian right who make a difference at the ballot box. When there is such fundamental belief in certain tenets, political and societal division is inevitable and gridlock prevails.”

Heart of Hearing

Although recommended to readers with an interest in Bacharach or in popular song of his era, Anyone Who Had a Heart is an unsatisfying book. Readers hoping that Burt Bacharach’s autobiography will reveal new depths in the man and his music may find that both come to seem shallower than ever.

That ’70s Band

Earth, Wind & Fire turned the “Me Decade” upside down, inside out, and all around. Lead man Philip Bailey’s bio reveals the spirit behind the songs.

Why The Fiddler Sticks

It may be mere schmaltz from the shtetl, but the story and songs of Tevye, his daughters, and life in Anatevka has shaped Jewish identity to a surprising degree.

Cities of War

David Kilcullen’s new book predicts the future of armed conflict through terrorism’s recent past, and with the city as its stage, but Out of The Mountains is best when it’s analyzing, not prophesying.

Bird On a Wire

Stanley Crouch gives us the best biography yet of Charlie Parker, the first jazz musician to let the saxophone lead the way, and the seminal musician who could make his horn sound “sweet,” yet “devoid of pity.”

Life Played By Ear

A new biography of Louis Armstrong refuses to draw a firm distinction between art and commercial entertainment, and argues that Armstrong himself made no such distinction, indeed would hardly have understood it.

Finding Faults

The Earth moves in mysterious ways, and even once altered the flow of the Mississippi River. Conevery Bolton Valencius’ new book on Missouri’s New Madrid fault shows how those tremors spread through culture and history. Read it, and be prepared when “The Big One” next hits.”