I signed up to review this book because of several thoughts that went through my head when I saw the cover and what it was about.
First, Douglas Wilson! He's a great writer and has an amazing wife who ministers to me greatly over at the Femina blog and as a recipient of her monthly Minister's Wife newsletter. He has also written highly recommended books, one such book is Persuasions that has been recommended to me recently. Second, it's a history book written by a Christian. Wow, I might actually like this.
Since Allen is a history buff and loves all things history, I often feel out of the loop when he's giving details about something I should know in depth, like say, the Alamo. I've told him this before, so this isn't news to him, but it's often hard to go to historical places with him because he loves to read every piece of writing on every wall, inspect every historical item and listen to every account that is given of said piece of history. I like to look around and see the sights. I don't want to be bound to learning every single thing. That doesn't feel much like a vacation to me.
So for those reasons, I snatched up this book. I am sad to say that I was pretty disappointed. Although Doug's writing skills are top-notch and his historical knowledge seems to be unsurpassed, I wouldn't recommend this book for several reasons.
First, it failed to hold my attention. I really wanted to like it and to get some background on these cities, I wanted to be enamored with the way it was written and the history that is behind these cities. The way it was written is very educational and far from relate-able. I felt like I was reading a textbook and that I was in the secondary course needing a better background for what I was reading about.
Second, it seemed to me that the way the information was presented, as to a student from a professor, it would be more beneficial and more complete to read up on these cities in a history book that included the entire history of the city.
I value the intention of this book, which is telling the story of how 5 cities, Jerusalem, Athens, Rome, London and New York have shaped the course of global history. I enjoyed reading about Jerusalem since it is so relevant to what I read on an everyday basis, the Bible. I loved it when he tied in background or historical information that helped me to understand the background of scripture better, and thus aid me in my Bible study.
I appreciated the Epilogue as it tied together all the loose ends of these cities in relation to scripture and the future heavenly city. He says that the prince of that city, Jesus, is Immanuel, God with us. He's not distant, not far-removed, but right here with us. Wilson says that the kingdom of God works "quietly, over the course of many generations...His power has been working, and His work will be accomplished." He closes with a scripture (prophecy) about the future city that believers can look forward to in Heaven one day.
On this mountain the LORD Almighty will prepare
a feast of rich food for all peoples,
a banquet of aged wine—
the best of meats and the finest of wines.
On this mountain he will destroy
the shroud that enfolds all peoples,
the sheet that covers all nations;
He will swallow up death forever.
The Sovereign LORD will wipe away the tears
from all faces;
he will remove the disgrace of his people
from all the earth.
The LORD has spoken.
In that day they will say,
"Surely this is our God;
we trusted in him, and he saved us.
This is the LORD, we trusted in him;
let us rejoice and be glad in his salvation."
I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my horizons beyond the usual that you would see on my bookshelf: Shopping for Time, Feminine Appeal, Gospel Powered Parenting, Discipline of Grace, etc. It was beneficial for me personally to open up my mind to history and learning in an educational way that I haven't done for the past 5 years.
(This is a review through Thomas Nelson's Book Sneeze program.)