ers usually couldn’t be. Moses, leading some
25,000 migrants away from and then through
hostile territory, was obliged to guard both
rear and front constantly and to fight dissi-
dents within, predators without, and dwellers
resisting newcomers. Given his vision of the
ummah, or worldwide Islamic community,
Muhammad had to forge a military force
to extend and protect it. Prolific military-historian Gabriel argues from scriptural
explication, nonscriptural sources, and the insights of archaeology, cultural anthropology,
and modern history that both leaders met
their military challenges brilliantly. He does
the same with the Buddha, who, despite the
legend of his sequestered upbringing, was
obliged by his family’s status to be a warrior
in a very violent era and almost certainly
conceived Buddhism in revulsion, powered
by what is now called PTSD. As interesting
as Gabriel’s martial portrayals of his subjects
is the shaping contention that monotheism
is particularly conducive to violence. Gabriel’s accessible style and scholarly propriety
make this volume as convincing as it is eye-opening. —Ray Olson
Gods, Wasps and Stranglers: The Secret
History and Redemptive Future of Fig
By Mike Shanahan.
Nov. 2016. 208p. illus. Chelsea Green, $22.50
Fig trees, with their “sinuous aerial roots,”
hidden flowers, wondrous pollinators, and
nourishing fruits, have sustained diverse ecosystems and civilizations for millennia. In this
lively and mind-expanding mix of personal
adventure, myth, religious history, and science, rain-forest ecologist and award-winning
journalist Shanahan traces the intricate connection between humans and Ficus genus. He
cogently illuminates how fig trees were held
sacred by various spiritual traditions around
the world, including those of ancient Egypt
and Greece, along with the fig tree’s place in
the Buddha’s story and the Garden of Eden.
He profiles intrepid fig-tree experts and vividly explains how tiny fig wasps burrow into
figs, lay eggs, and reemerge to distribute pollen, allowing the planet’s 750 Ficus species
to thrive and feed 1,274 species of birds and
mammals, including humans. Scientists now
recognize that fig trees are “keystone resources” essential to sustaining life and foresee their
central role in forest restoration as we struggle with the consequences of environmental
decimation and global warming. Shanahan’s
spirited celebration of the fig tree as symbol
and life force is richly entertaining and truly
enlightening. —Donna Seaman
YA/S: Shanahan’s anecdotal and
enthusiastic approach to the marvels of fig
trees will intrigue curious YAs. DS.
Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy.
By Anne Lamott.
Apr. 2017. 192p. Riverhead, $20 (9780735213586). 241.
Lamott (Small Victories, 2014) takes her
The best inspirational fiction reviewed in Booklist between Novem- ber 15, 2015, and November 1, 2016, displays a vibrant variety of
settings and situations in which characters find their faith severely
tested. —Donna Seaman
The Alliance. By Jolina Petersheim. 2016. Tyndale, $22.99
(9781496413994); paper, $14.99 (9781496402219).
In Petersheim’s enthralling apocalyptic novel, an electromagnetic
pulse (EMP) effectively ends life as we know it, leading members of
a Mennonite community to band together with stranded Englischers.
Cold Shot. By Dani Pettrey. 2016. Bethany, $14.99 (9780764211973);
Pettrey’s new romantic-suspense series, Chesapeake Valor, begins
with forensic anthropologist Finley Scott finishing a dig near Gettysburg only to be drawn into a very different investigation with a former
sniper turned park ranger.
A Lady Unrivaled. By Roseanna M. White. 2016. Bethany, $14.99
White proves her mastery of historical Christian romance as she
concludes her Ladies of the Manor series with this heart-pounding
Edwardian tale of cursed diamonds, double agents, a skeptical lady,
and a cantankerous lord.
Mrs. Lee & Mrs. Gray. By Dorothy Love. 2016. Thomas Nelson,
Love dramatizes the moral and spiritual complexities of the true-life
friendship between Mary Custis Lee, daughter of wealthy plantation
owners and wife to Robert E. Lee, and Selina Norris Gray, one of her
Promise Lodge. By Charlotte Hubbard. 2016. Zebra, $7.99
(9781420139419); e-book (9781420139426).
As she kicks off her Promise Lodge series, Hubbard takes a refreshingly feminist approach to the lives of three Amish sisters who
boldly start a new settlement while grappling with abuse and deceit.
The Prophetess: Deborah’s Story. By Jill Eileen Smith. 2016. Revell,
Deborah, a prophet and the only female judge in the Bible, takes center stage in the
latest in Smith’s Daughters of the Promised Land series.
This Road We Traveled. By Jane Kirkpatrick. 2016. Revell, $14.99 (9780800722333).
Based on the true story of Tabitha Moffat Brown, Kirkpatrick’s dramatic novel follows
three generations of Brown women as they make the treacherous journey to Oregon in
1845, trusting that God will provide.
Waves of Mercy. By Lynn Austin. 2016. Bethany, $15.99 (9780764218781).
In Austin’s tale of spiritual awakenings, tests of faith, family bonds, and love, two
women in 1897 Michigan confront the past, including an immigrant family’s quest to find
religious freedom in the U.S.
The Wedding Shop. By Rachel Hauck. 2016. Zondervan, $15.99 (9780310341543).
Best-selling Hauck tells a spellbinding and uplifting story of two spirited women in two
centuries, each connected to a landmark wedding shop in Heart’s Bend, Tennessee.
You’re the One That I Want. By Susan May Warren. 2016. Tyndale, $14.99
Warren’s beloved Christiansen Family series draws to a close with an irresistible
prodigal-son story about the reckless youngest brother, Owen, who falls in love with the
captain’s daughter while working on an Alaskan fishing crew and returns home to confront his past.
TOP 10 INSPIRATIONAL FICTION