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BookTuesday: Late but short

I had a planned book review for today, but I received an email last week that there was a shipping delay, so the Big Book of American Trivia review will be a little late. Hopefully, I'll have it up next week.

Upcoming, I'll be looking at Tyndale: The Man who Gave God an English Voice by David Teems. Tyndale translated the Bible (well, headed up translating the Bible) into English before it was legal and before King James paid for a new translation. The KJV uses somewhere between 85-95% similar wording to Tyndale. He was burned at the stake for his work. Looking forward to reading more about him.

Also, I have a few reviews coming up for Kregel: Revisiting the Corruption of the New Testament, The Post-Racial Church, and Reading Revelation. These all look good, and I already have them to read. Kregel uses a different system than Tyndale House and Thomas Nelson: the former schedules when they want reviews, the latter lets you review whenever you get to it.

So, no major review this week. I do have a recommendation for you. It's a book that I won in a drawing on Facebook from the History Channel. It's called Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations. It's by Evan D.G. Fraser and Andrew Rimas, authors of Beef: The Untold Story of How Milk, Meat, and Muscle Shaped the World.

I've finished their introductory chapters, and this is a good read from a historical perspective, at least at my level of history. Those of you with upper 2nds or 1sts in the discipline may disagree, but the concept seems sound. What this book does is trace how the ability to feed not only your own people but produce surplus food impacts the growth of an empire. Further, the inability to feed your people cuts your empire if you cannot conquer new food-production.

While these basics should be clear to any veteran player of the Civilization video game series, it is nice to see some explanation and contemplation on the actual facts. Further, Fraser and Rimas have gone forward with their thinking: where do our current food empires leave us headed?

One things that I found worth noting: in the introductory material, they note the rise of monasteries and monasticism. Then, they present how the monks worked the land and helped develop surplus foods and industry. They present the monks in both good and bad lights: there were good intentions derailed by corruption.

I find this positive and refreshing. Too much history writing takes a biased view towards religion, especially majority religion. It is biased against the religion at hand, and so presents anything done by that religion's practitioners as evil, or it is biased towards the religion and so presents everything with a halo added to it.

As a religious person, both methods annoy me. Not every action by Christians has been good, neither has it been all bad. History is replete with good and bad characters, hypocrites and saints, and should be told that way. True, a bias will often come out, but it is not necessary.

I think the authors have done a good job respecting the truth of the history: there's been good and bad done in the name of religion, science, and politics for centuries. We cannot learn from it if we ignore that reality.

So, grab a copy of Empires of Food. I think you'll be glad you did.

Empires of Food: Feast, Famine, and the Rise and Fall of Civilizations

(there's no reason not to take a Kindle Edition on this one: no maps/pictures that won't render. I have a hardcover, but that's up to you.)

Doug

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