Category Archives: Biographies

The Sky Below: A True Story of Summits, Space, and Speed by Scott Parazynski

“Scott Parazynski’s drive, curiosity, inventiveness, and great humor shine through the pages of The Sky Below and will certainly inspire future generations to pursue their dreams with every fiber in their being.” —John Glenn, NASA astronaut

An epic memoir from a man whose life is defined by exploration and innovation, The Sky Below re-creates some of the most unforgettable adventures of our time. From dramatic, high-risk spacewalks to author Scott Parazynski’s death-defying quest to summit Mount Everest—his body ravaged by a career in space—readers will experience the life of an elite athlete, physician, and explorer.

This intimate, compelling account offers a rare portrait of space exploration from the inside. A global nomad raised in the shadow of NASA’s Apollo missions, Parazynski never lost sight of his childhood dream to one day don a spacesuit and float outside the airlock. With deep passion, unbridled creativity, resilience, humility, and self-deprecation, Parazynski chases his dream of the ultimate adventure experience, again and again and again. In an era that transitioned from moon shots to the Space Shuttle, space station, and Mars research, Parazynski flies with John Glenn, tests jet packs, trains in Russia to become a cosmonaut, and flies five missions to outer space (including seven spacewalks) in his seventeen-year NASA career.

An unparalleled, visceral opportunity to understand what it’s like to train for—and deploy to—a home in zero gravity, The Sky Below also portrays an astronaut’s engagement with the challenges of his life on Earth, including raising a beautiful autistic daughter and finding true love.

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The Apostle: A Life of Paul by John Charles Pollock

TheApostle

The drama of a novel meets scholarship in leading Christian biographer John Pollock’s classic work about one of the most transforming persons in history: the apostle Paul.

The Apostle masterfully combines careful adherence to biblical text, detailed research, and a storyteller’s gift to create a book equally relevant for both casual readers fascinated by Paul’s life and serious biblical scholars. Pollock begins his fast-movig narrative with Stephen’s death and follows Paul through his conversion, missionary journeys, and eventual execution. Many will enjoy it simply as a satisfying and insightful true-life story, although maps and a study guide allow for deeper exploration. The Apostle was originally published in 1969, and this new edition marks the first significant revision in many years.

*****

This was an excellent read. It was a help in tying the epistles together and aiding me in the chronology of Paul’s trek. From about the time of Paul’s leading the stoning of Stephan to his beheading. An excellent read which was well worth the time!

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

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The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Alex Haley

MalcolmX

Through a life of passion and struggle, Malcolm X became one of the most influential figures of the 20th Century. In this riveting account, he tells of his journey from a prison cell to Mecca, describing his transition from hoodlum to Muslim minister. Here, the man who called himself “the angriest Black man in America” relates how his conversion to true Islam helped him confront his rage and recognize the brotherhood of all mankind.


An established classic of modern America, “The Autobiography of Malcolm X” was hailed by the New York Times as “Extraordinary. A brilliant, painful, important book.” Still extraordinary, still important, this electrifying story has transformed Malcom X’s life into his legacy. The strength of his words, the power of his ideas continue to resonate more than a generation after they first appeared.

*****

WOW! That is the quick synopsis of this roller coaster ride! One of the BEST biographies I have read that made me slow down and read at a much slower speed than usual. THIS book truly makes one see things from the perspective of a black man’s plight in America. Also, the trials he went through after giving his all for the Nation of Islam only to be turned on by the viscous powers that were at the time. Truly sad, but also truly enlightening! The discovery of how the Islamic faith was being misused and mis-taught by those who chose to use the faith itself as a means to an end. Malcolm X’s thoughts on the white man had changed when he went on his pilgrimage to Mecca seeing all those who were black, brown and white showing their brotherly love toward one another. Malcolm X stood up for what he believed and lived out such a life. We could all learn from his life and his trials.

While I disagree with the Islamic faith, this did show us one thing…that the Christians of that time could learn a thing, or two, from those of Islam, in how we treat one another.  This was well worth the time to read!

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

 

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The Unexpected President: Chester A. Arthur–His Life and Times by Scott S. Greenberger

CAArthur

When President James Garfield was shot, no one in the United States was more dismayed than his Vice President, Chester Arthur. For years Arthur had been perceived as unfit to govern, not only by critics and his fellow citizens but by his own conscience.

From his promising start, Arthur had become a political hack, a shill for Roscoe Conkling, and Arthur knew better even than his detractors that he failed to meet the high standard a president must uphold. And yet, from the moment President Arthur took office, he proved to be not just honest but courageous, going up against the very forces that had controlled him for decades.

Arthur surprised everyone–and gained many enemies–when he swept house and courageously took on corruption, civil rights for blacks, and issues of land for Native Americans. His short presidency proved to be a turning point of American history, in many ways a preview of our own times, and is a sterling example of how someone can “rise to the occasion.”

This beautifully written biography tells the dramatic, untold story of a virtually forgotten American president, a machine politician and man-about-town in Gilded Age New York who stumbled into the highest office in the land only to rediscover his better self, right when his nation needed him.

*****

I found this to be an EXCELLENT READ! You think politics today is full of chaos and corruption…read this to see what things were like 130 years ago. It is truly an eye opener. Well worth the time and every bit of the effort. Spoiler Alert: Chester A. Arthur thought the vice Presidency was the greatest office that he could have ever imagined, but due to circumstances of the time and similar political though of today…that was not to be true!

A GREAT BOOK!

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

 

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Winston Churchill: An Informal Study of Greatness by Robert Lewis Taylor

Churchill

Former British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, led one of the most astonishing lives that public service has ever witnessed.

In An Informal Study of Greatness, Taylor presents the early life of this mythologised and prodigiously talented man.

Focusing on the school years of a young Winston Churchill and the early experiences that shaped his ambition, this fascinating biography delves into the private life of Churchill as a student, a journalist and a soldier.

This a delightful and revealing study of a man who, as Taylor puts it, was one of ‘multiple genius’ and ‘one of the most exasperating figures of history.’

Praise for Winston Churchill: An Informal Study of Greatness

*****

Many things which  you thought you knew about Winston Churchill…you didn’t! A fascinating look into the life of Churchill and his greatness. He was a warrior, a poet, an artist, a politician, and a quick witted individual.

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

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Charles Dickens: A Critical Study by G.K. Chesterton

CD Critical Study

Much of our modern difficulty, in religion and other things, arises merely from this: that we confuse the word “indefinable” with the word “vague.” If some one speaks of a spiritual fact as “indefinable” we promptly picture something misty, a cloud with indeterminate edges. But this is an error even in commonplace logic. The thing that cannot be defined is the first thing; the primary fact. It is our arms and legs, our pots and pans, that are indefinable. The indefinable is the indisputable. The man next door is indefinable, because he is too actual to be defined. And there are some to whom spiritual things have the same fierce and practical proximity; some to whom God is too actual to be defined.
But there is a third class of primary terms. There are popular expressions which every one uses and no one can explain; which the wise man will accept and reverence, as he reverences desire or darkness or any elemental thing. The prigs of the debating club will demand that he should define his terms. And, being a wise man, he will flatly refuse. This first inexplicable term is the most important term of all. The word that has no definition is the word that has no substitute. If a man falls back again and again on some such word as “vulgar” or “manly,” do not suppose that the word means nothing because he cannot say what it means. If he could say what the word means he would say what it means instead of saying the word. When the Game Chicken (that fine thinker) kept on saying to Mr. Toots, “It’s mean. That’s what it is– it’s mean,” he was using language in the wisest possible way. For what else could he say? There is no word for mean except mean. A man must be very mean himself before he comes to defining meanness. Precisely because the word is indefinable, the word is indispensable.
In everyday talk, or in any of our journals, we may find the loose but important phrase, “Why have we no great men to-day? Why have we no great men like Thackeray, or Carlyle, or Dickens?” Do not let us dismiss this expression, because it appears loose or arbitrary. “Great” does mean something, and the test of its actuality is to be found by noting how instinctively and decisively we do apply it to some men and not to others; above all, how instinctively and decisively we do apply it to four or five men in the Victorian era, four or five men of whom Dickens was not the least. The term is found to fit a definite thing. Whatever the word “great” means, Dickens was what it means. Even the fastidious and unhappy who cannot read his books without a continuous critical exasperation, would use the word of him without stopping to think. They feel that Dickens is a great writer even if he is not a good writer. He is treated as a classic; that is, as a king who may now be deserted, but who cannot now be dethroned. The atmosphere of this word clings to him; and the curious thing is that we cannot get it to cling to any of the men of our own generation. “Great” is the first adjective which the most supercilious modern critic would apply to Dickens. And “great” is the last adjective that the most supercilious modern critic would apply to himself We dare not claim to be great men, even when we claim to be superior to them.
Is there, then, any vital meaning in this idea of “greatness” or in our laments over its absence in our own time? Some people say, indeed, that this sense of mass is but a mirage of distance, and that men always think dead men great and live men small. They seem to think that the law of perspective in the mental world is the precise opposite to the law of perspective in the physical world. They think that figures grow larger as they walk away. But this theory cannot be made to correspond with the facts.

******

While I found this ebook to be an interesting overview of Charles Dickens’ works, and his methodologies of writing, what he wrote, but it was a hard read; in that, it was a man explaining another man’s works. As that is alright, but it is a man from the 20th century explaining a man from the 19th century, in 20th century terms. This is neither good nor bad…it just is what it is. And while it did touch on Dickens’ past and proclivities, in a sense, it was primarily about his works. It was a good read, a bit tough at times, but it gave one a little background (to some extent) on the man of Charles Dickens. I came away with the notion that Chesterton liked, or even admired Dickens’ works and writing, but he embellished a bit too much with his characters.

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

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Your Dream. God’s Plan.: Are You Longing for Something More? by Tiffany Smiling

YourDreamGodsPlan

Like a lot of young women, Tiffany Smiling had been assured that the path to fulfillment looked like the one she’d seen in her favorite movies: She’d be swept away by a soul mate, live in a southern estate, and start a family.

But Tiffany’s story unfolded quite differently.

Weeks after serving on her high school’s homecoming court, while doctors operated to remove the brain tumor that was killing her, Tiffany suffered a paralyzing stroke. In the nick of a scalpel she lost her beauty and most of her physical ability. Returning to high school in a wheelchair, head half-shaved and face distorted, Tiffany vowed to be normal and live the dream.

And for a season, she did.

But just when the fairytale was within reach, God surprised Tiffany. Wooing her heart, God convinced her that there was something even better in store for her.

. . .And He has something better in store for you, too.

Read Your Dream. God’s Plan. and see how the Lord wants to use the broken pieces of your life for His greater plan for you.

Smiling’s story will help you see the ways God is writing your own amazing story—designed for His glory and your fulfillment.

*****

Truly a powerful testimony to the strength that one builds up through the trials and tribulations thrown in one’s path. Though many would throw in the towel, there are those whose faith is actually strengthened by the turmoil that is placed before them. Some even turn to God and listen to what He has to say to them! Tiffany Smiling is one of those people…a special and inspiring person with a tremendous story.

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

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Benjamin Franklin: An American Life by Walter Isaacson

BJAmericanLife

In this authoritative and engrossing full-scale biography, Walter Isaacson, bestselling author of Einstein and Steve Jobs, shows how the most fascinating of America’s founders helped define our national character.

Benjamin Franklin is the founding father who winks at us, the one who seems made of flesh rather than marble. In a sweeping narrative that follows Franklin’s life from Boston to Philadelphia to London and Paris and back, Walter Isaacson chronicles the adventures of the runaway apprentice who became, over the course of his eighty-four-year life, America’s best writer, inventor, media baron, scientist, diplomat, and business strategist, as well as one of its most practical and ingenious political leaders. He explores the wit behind Poor Richard’s Almanac and the wisdom behind the Declaration of Independence, the new nation’s alliance with France, the treaty that ended the Revolution, and the compromises that created a near-perfect Constitution.

In this colorful and intimate narrative, Isaacson provides the full sweep of Franklin’s amazing life, showing how he helped to forge the American national identity and why he has a particular resonance in the twenty-first century.

I must admit, this seemed to have been one of the best, if not THE best biography of one of our founding fathers of this country. The detail of his life were astounding with a plethora of source material. Walter Isaacson dis an outstanding job with this biography! BRAVO! Well worth the read, well worth the time, and well worth the expense!

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

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Reagan: The Life by H.W. Brands

reagan

In his magisterial new biography, H. W. Brands brilliantly establishes Ronald Reagan as one of the two great presidents of the twentieth century, a true peer to Franklin Roosevelt. Reagan conveys with sweep and vigor how the confident force of Reagan’s personality and the unwavering nature of his beliefs enabled him to engineer a conservative revolution in American politics and play a crucial role in ending communism in the Soviet Union. Reagan shut down the age of liberalism, Brands shows, and ushered in the age of Reagan, whose defining principles are still powerfully felt today.

    Employing archival sources not available to previous biographers and drawing on dozens of interviews with surviving members of Reagan’s administration, Brands has crafted a richly detailed and fascinating narrative of the presidential years. He offers new insights into Reagan’s remote management style and fractious West Wing staff, his deft handling of public sentiment to transform the tax code, and his deeply misunderstood relationship with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, on which nothing less than the fate of the world turned.

     Reagan is a storytelling triumph, an irresistible portrait of an underestimated politician whose pragmatic leadership and steadfast vision transformed the nation.

Reagan was a great President with a practical outlook and plan of attack on the subjects at hand. While there were some low points in his tenure, there were some great accomplishments. He was a trusting man, but he was not a god (as so many speak of him as such.) Brands has definitely hit the nail squarely on the head with this book of his. It was a great read and the topic was on such a great person, in President Reagan.

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

 

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Righteous Indignation: Excuse Me While I Save the World! by Andrew Breitbart

RighteousIndignation

Known for his network of conservative websites that draws millions of readers everyday, Andrew Breitbart has one main goal: to make sure the “liberally biased” major news outlets in this country cover all aspects of a story fairly. Breitbart is convinced that too many national stories are slanted by the news media in an unfair way.

In RIGHTEOUS INDIGNATION, Breitbart talks about how one needs to deal with the liberal news world head on. Along the way, he details his early years, working with Matt Drudge, the Huffington Post, and how Breitbart developed his unique style of launching key websites to help get the word out to conservatives all over.

A rollicking and controversial read, Breitbart will certainly raise your blood pressure, one way or another.

********

I found this book to be extraordinarily written, in that it was aimed toward those people who need every possible aid in defending their view with respect to the Liberal Progressive mind set. If you are looking to get into the game, not necessarily politics or television or the media, but you are seeking a way to get your point across without giving up your ethics or moral standards. Many see themselves having to compromise in their morals or ethics, but you don’t.

Sadly, instead of having a discussion with some people actually becomes hard work when they have a Liberal, Progressive, Socialistic, or Communistic position. You do have to be a bit brash in order to get your point across, but do you actually think you will change their minds? Probably not, all you can hope for (from my experiences in evangelizing or witnessing to non-Christians) is to plant a seed in their minds.

Andrew Breitbart was a Liberal minded progressive person, by his own admission and by the indoctrination that he had gone throughout his schooling. But he was steered away from it through the ideas of others and began to think for himself. In his first chapter he showed that he repeated much of what he had been told and his mind was on autopilot…then he learned what he was doing and began to relearn things and became the man he was destined to be!

Godspeed & Good Reads!

Doc Murf

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