Editor’s Note: You can find a link to purchase each book by clicking on the picture.
Through five months of 2021, here are the biographies I have read that I think are worth reading. In no particular order:
Decision Points, by George W. Bush
Even if you are among the 70% who disapproved of Bush when he left the presidency, I think the average person would enjoy getting a front row seat to his political career’s most crucial turning points. Especially the 2000 election and September 11, 2001. Even knowing what happens in both events, I was on the edge of my seat as Bush described his perspective. I also admire how often Bush admits fault and mistakes. He no doubt tries to justify many of his decisions (like the wars). But he also doesn’t lack for brutal self-reflection at times. It is a well-written book.
I Dared To Call Him Father by Bilquis Sheikh
One of many stories we have at our disposal of Muslims who turned Christian, one thing that makes this one unique is how old it is. Her conversion occurred 60 years ago. Like many similar accounts and biographies of those who came to Christ through visions and dreams, this book will stretch the average American reader. But in a good way. And even if some of her theology was wrong, a lot of it was absolutely correct. Like the time she practiced Luke 14 by inviting the lame and blind to her Christmas celebration, instead of her family.
Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom by Catherine Clinton
A sensational account of an unforgettable life, I found myself awed by numerous anecdotes. For example, once while helping two men flee slavery to freedom up north, they encountered a stream that appeared deep. The men were too scared to try to cross it. So Tubman jumped right in and waded across, putting their cowardice to shame. Tubman was a leader of leaders and one of the most courageous people in our history. She did not play games when it came to the Underground Railroad. She got stuff done.
Gifted Hands by Ben Carson
Carson wrote this in 1990, so it treats the apex of his career as a surgeon and not his more recent journey into politics. Which is perfect, because what he accomplished in that field makes him truly special. The climax comes when he successfully separated Siamese twins conjoined at the head, which was national news. But there is plenty of intrigue before that. He started with nothing in a messed-up family situation and made it to Yale. Everything in between fascinated me.
Tortured For Christ by Richard Wumbrand
This is a tough read at times, because what the Communists did to the Romanian Christians decades ago is not for the faint of heart. Wumbrand doesn’t mince words about it either. It was far worse than even the 14 years he spent in prison conveys. There is a lot of New Testament Acts type writing, only if Luke in Acts had added more gore to the persecution the Christians suffered. Yet, I appreciate the book deeply. As the founder of The Voice of the Martyrs, Wumbrund proves he earned that title. And the right to tell the stories that publication continues to tell over 50 years after its founding.
Kisses From Katie by Katie Davis
One thing that makes Katie distinct from the other remarkable biographies in this list is how young she was when it starts. At only 18, she left the comforts of affluence in the U.S. for good to serve orphans, widows and other forgotten people in Uganda. And her service turned into adopting 15 orphaned girls. Worthy of note to me is that she ministered for several years as a single young woman.
One thing I love about this book as with others is that even though the story has the overall plot of a feel good movie, she does keep it real throughout. She struggled with homesickness, fear of rats, cultural faux pas and failed attempts to help people. And the toughest part was when he lost one of her potential adoptees back to the birth mother. Phenomenal story that continues to this day, as she is only 33 years old. And she is still serving in Uganda, now with a husband and 16 children. Including one by birth.
William Tyndale: A Biography by David Daniell
This is the second of two Tyndale biographies I have read and both were rich in detail. But this one was longer and had details in it the Teems version did not. Notably about his arrest and martyrdom. Few people have captured my interest as an adult like Tyndale has, for what he did in making sure we have the Bible in English. We are blessed to have these two fantastic works chronicling his life.
Comments and feedback and other summer reading suggestions are welcomed below!