Heaven Without Her by Kitty Foth-Regner

Heaven Without Her: A Desperate Daughter’s Search for the Heart of Her Mother’s Faith by Kitty Foth-Regner.

I’ve had this memoir on my TBR list for quite a while, recommended to me by someone or another, but I couldn’t find it at the library. I put off buying a copy because I had some vague idea that the “her” of the title had been kidnapped or lost, and the daughter was searching for her. I just didn’t know if I was in the mood for that sort of a story.

It turns out that Heaven Without Her is a spiritual memoir, a conversion story, and I love a well-written conversion story.

“Kitty Foth-Regner was living the feminist dream—a successful copywriting business, the perfect live-in boyfriend, beautiful garden, and a nice house. But when her beloved developed a fatal illness, she found herself on the brink of despair with nothing but questions: Could there possibly be a God? If so, which God? And might heaven really exist?”

The book is as much a Christian apologetic as it is a memoir, but Ms. Foth-Regner’s personal story of her search for God gives shape and meaning to the academic and scientific investigation that she undertook to find out who God might be and whether He could be found in any of the major (and some minor) religions of the world. Her motivation for the search was her desire to be with her beloved Christian mother in heaven, if such a place really exists. But through that motivation, the Hound of Heaven was certainly pursuing Kitty Both-Regner “down the labyrinthine ways/Of [her] own mind; and in the mist of tears.”

The memoirist writes about the Bible and the historical and scientific reliability thereof. She includes quite a bit of information about the evolution/creation debate and presents solid evidence for both intelligent design by a Creator God and a young earth view of history. She compares the truth claims of Christianity and of other world religions, show ing that Christianity is the only belief system that has verifiable evidence supporting its dogma. Then, she goes on to tell about how she came to believe that the resurrection of Jesus Christ was a historical fact, and that the gospel, faith in God through Christ and the receiving of His grace to cover our sins, was the only way to heaven and to Truth. (That’s in chapter 20, by the way, if you want to skip to the climax. But I’d suggest you read the book straight through.)

Heaven Without Her would be a great gift for an unbelieving friend, provided that friend was somewhat open to the gospel. Kitty Foth-Regner herself says that her efforts to share the wonderful news of her new-found faith with friends and associates met mostly with polite, but definite, disinterest, sometimes outright hostility. “Amazingly, many if not most, declined. And not always politely.” “My friendships with several hyper-feminists were among the casualties of my conversion. Maybe I should have just kept my mouth shut. But I figured a friend doesn’t let a friend live without hope; a friend shares the gospel with the people she cares about.”

So, use your own judgment and the guidance of the Holy Spirit as to whether or not to give the book away to friends and neighbors, but I would say that having a copy to read yourself and another to give away if so led would be an excellent investment. It’s a book in the same category and genre with Lee Strobel’s The Case for Christ, Josh McDowell’s More Than a Carpenter, and Letters from a Skeptic by Dr. Gregory Boyd. Ms. Foth-Regner has a list of books that helped her to understand and accept the Christian worldview and that she recommends to others for the same purpose. Her list is worth the price of the book itself.

Thank to the author for sending me a copy of her memoir for possible review. I plan to keep one copy for my library and purchase another for giving away.

The Great Good Thing by Andrew Klavan

The Great Good Thing A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ by Andrew Klavan.

I dearly love a good Christian conversion story or memoir. And Andrew Klavan’s story is a good one, full of insight and self-reflection and understanding that only a man from an intellectual Jewish background, who came to faith in Christ by way of a tumultuous childhood, a writerly and journalistic sensibility and career path, and a nervous breakdown, could express and communicate.

“It reminded me of the sense I’d had then that our mortal lives were just incarnate metaphors, that we are stories being told about the living love that created us and sustains us. Maybe all of history’s beauty and bloodshed was a story not about pleasure and pain and power but about humanity’s relationship with an unseen spirit of love. We yearned for the spirit but we feared and hated it, too, because when it shone its terrible light on us, we saw ourselves as we were, broken and shameful, far from what the spirit of love had made us. Maybe all our wars and rapes and oppressions were just our attempts to extinguish that light and silence that story.”

“We are stories being told about the living love that created us.” I really like that formulation. I pray that my story is somehow glorifying the God who made me, and I trust that He will make it so.

I’m feeling a bit inadequate to actually review Mr. Klavan’s version of “Confessions”, so I’ll just link to some other reviewers who say good things about The Great Good Thing. I do recommend the book and its author.

John Wilson at Books and Culture:The Great Good Thing tells the story of his conversion with candor, wit, and humility (no preening, no cant). It is a memoir, he emphasizes, focused on that story, not a full-fledged autobiography, but it encompasses the whole arc of his life, and especially his childhood and growing-up years before he left home at the age of seventeen.”

An Orthodox Jew Reviews Andrew Klavan’s ‘The Great Good Thing: A Secular Jew Comes to Faith in Christ’ by Avner Zarmi.

What Would the Founders Think?: “Klavan’s conversion was not that of Saul on the rode to Damascus. Klavan’s journey was more like that of an archeologist who senses that there is something to unearth beneath a tell but does not know what it is. As each artifact is excavated, he begins to formulate one hypothesis after another, discarding each until the final piece is revealed. When all the parts are assembled, he has no choice but to accept the result as truth.”

Read it. Then, come back and tell me what you think.

Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance.

Former Marine and Yale Law School graduate J.D. Vance has an unconventional background for a man with such credentials: he grew up in poor, dysfunctional, hillbilly family from northern Kentucky, mostly living in the lower-class neighborhoods of Middletown, Ohio. His mother was a drug abuser who subjected him and his older sister to a series of husbands and boyfriends, who were neglectful or abusive or at best, temporarily decent. Any stability he had in his childhood came from his maternal grandparents who were fiercely supportive, even if they had issues of their own. J.D.’s grandmother is a character from the Beverly Hillbillies, without the the silly humor, with the shotgun firmly in hand, and with the addition of some salty language that wouldn’t have been appropriate in a TV sitcom. His grandfather was a taciturn man, a former alcoholic, who supported J.D. mainly by spending time with him, availability being nine-tenths of the job requirement for a substitute father-figure.

The book definitely reminded me of my family’s lower middle class background. The violence and drug abuse in Vance’s family are mostly absent from mine, but some other forms of family dysfunction are quite familiar. Divorce, alcoholism, and poor educational choices and opportunities have dogged my working class white family, too, with some members of the family being able to move past those limitations while others became mired in their own generational poverty and family dysfunction.

It’s rather funny to read a selection of the reviews on Amazon or Goodreads for this book. Lots of people from inside and outside the Appalachian culture that Vance describes laud his deep insights into and vivid depiction of hillbilly culture. Others insist that Vance doesn’t have clue what he’s talking about, that his insights apply only to his own particular family situation or that his depiction of hillbilly life in the Rust Belt town of Middletown is either too dark or too optimistic.

I thought Mr. Vance had a lot to say about how people are able to grow and change and make good choices, partly despite their family background and partly as a result of clinging to the good parts of the family heritage. Vance’s grandparents were able to leave the Hatfield/McCoy violence and bitterness of the northern Kentucky hills behind and make a better life in Middletown, not a perfect life since they brought a lot of problems (and guns) with them, but a better life. Vance’s birth father was able to find stability and a fulfilling life in his Christian faith and church community. Vance himself was able to draw from the tenacity and love of both of his grandparents to make mostly wise choices about his own life, become a marine, get an education, and eventually write Hillbilly Elegy. Some critics deride Vance’s emphasis on a strong work ethic and moral choices to bring people up out of poverty and dysfunction, but the truth is the truth. A person who works hard and makes good moral choices about important life decisions (don’t abuse drugs and alcohol, marry your sexual partner, do what you need to do to support your family financially, try to get a good education, etc.) is much more likely to graduate from lower class poverty into at least middle class stability and functionality.

The book isn’t really preachy, however. It’s likely only to offend those who have already decided that traditional morality and hard work are useless prescriptions to ameliorate or even cure generational poverty. The author himself doesn’t state or imply that it’s easy or that he didn’t benefit from some fortuitous events and help along the way, such as a full scholarship to Yale Law School. He’s honest and gives credit where credit is due, but he’s also unflinching in his assessment of the flaws and inherent deficiencies that characterized his experience of “hillbilly culture.”

Many readers and reviewers have tried to sell this book as a guide to “why people voted for Trump” or “why Trump was elected president”, especially why lower class and lower middle class white voters were inclined to be Trump supporters. I don’t think that’s the main point of the book, and I don’t really think it’s too helpful in that regard. J.D. Vance’s hillbilly family members may have supported Trump, but they weren’t his only supporters. Don’t read the book to understand Trump voters; instead, read it to understand Appalachian and Rust Belt family dynamics and social mobility and the saga of one hillbilly who lived to tell his own story.

Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard

Hero of the Empire: The Boer War, a Daring Escape, and the Making of Winston Churchill by Candice Millard.

“I don’t like this fellow, but he’ll be Prime Minister of England one day.” ~Sir George White in reference to young Winston Churchill.

“Winston has spent the best years of his life composing his impromptu speeches.” ~ F.E. Smith.

“Winston is like a strong wire that, stretched, always springs back. He prospers under attack, enmity and disparagement . . . He lives on excitement.The more he scents frustration the more he has to fight for; the greater the obstacles, the greater the triumph.” ~John Black Atkins.

“I said to myself, ‘Toujours de l’audace!'” (Always more audacity). ~ Winston Churchill.

Audacious indeed, Churchill, like Teddy Roosevelt, the subject of another of Candice Millard’s narrative nonfiction histories, would have been a difficult man to befriend or to live with or to be married to. Although I have great deal of respect for both Churchill and Roosevelt, I like the distance that history and books give me. I suspect a close encounter with either man would have left me speechless or even angry or completely dumbfounded. Churchill may have gained some perspective and selflessness as he aged, but as a youth he seems to have been supremely self-centered and cocky.

But he was definitely a leader, even in his twenties during the Boer War in South Africa. Supposedly sent to the war zone as a journalist, Churchill almost immediately became entangled in combat, trying to find opportunities for heroism and acclaim. He did audacious and reckless things, and he got away without getting himself killed in the process. And he got the acclaim he wanted after he escaped from a Boer prisoner of war camp, almost by accident, but sustained by sheer persistence and “good luck”.

“The practice [of prayer] was comforting and the reasoning led nowhere. I therefore acted in accordance with my feelings without troubling to square such conduct with the conclusions of thought.” ~Winston Churchill, from South Africa during the Boer War.

According to the author, Churchill didn’t have much faith in God or religion or Christianity in particular, but when he was at the worst, darkest hour of his harrowing escape across South Africa, he could think of nothing to do except pray. It’s a sort of a foxhole religious awakening, and one doesn’t get the sense that Churchill took much spiritual growth or humility with him into the rest of his escape and subsequent life. But in the depths of the darkness of the 1930’s when no one would listen to him as he trumpeted the dangers of Nazism or in the darkest hours of World War II when none of the countries of the world were really standing alongside Britain against Hitler, maybe he remembered to pray, remembered that God was the one who rescued him during his South Africa escape journey. No one really knows. (I don’t believe in luck.)

After his escape from the Boers, Churchill could have sat on his laurels and drunk copious amounts of champagne, a drink of which he was extremely fond. However, he returned to to South Africa to fight and write about the war. After the Boer War was over, Churchill published two memoirs of the war, London to Ladysmith via Pretoria and Ian Hamilton’s March. His heroism and notoriety gained him a seat in Parliament, and the rest, as they say, is history.

This article gives a good overview of Churchill’s relationship and attitude to Christianity and God.
And here’s an interview at Bible Gateway with the joint authors of a book called God and Churchill.

Other books by Candice Millard:
Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President.
River of Doubt: Theodore Roosevelt’s Darkest Journey.

Rocks in his Head by Carol Otis Hurst

I’ve seen this picture book biography recommended on several lists of “living books”, particularly living science books, and I agree that it’s a beautiful and inspiring story. The author’s father, who is never actually named in the text, was a collector of rocks. But more than a collector, he was a student and archivist who carefully curated and labeled his collection of rocks from all over the country.

Since Ms. Hurst’s father and his family were living through the Great Depression, her father’s day job was minding his gas station. When the gas station went broke, he took other jobs to support his family. Because he had never been to college or formally studied geology, most people thought Carol Hurst’s father’s passion for rocks was simply an amusing hobby. However, he eventually met someone who appreciated the informal study he had done and the depth of knowledge he had acquired.

Rocks in his Head is the kind of story our children need. They need to see that if they pursue an interest with persistence and passion, they can become experts. And they can do that whether or not this interest or passion becomes their job. I have an adult daughter who is teaching herself Polish because she is interested in all things Polish at the moment. I have a son who is becoming a talented and expert musician, in his spare time. I am an amateur, part-time librarian. So far, none of my children has “rocks in his head”, but if that were to be someone’s passion, I would encourage them to study and collect and learn with all the resources available to them. Because our economy is generally much better than that of the time during the Great Depression when Ms. Hurst’s father was living, we have much greater opportunities to both make a living for our families and pursue our own interests. Encourage your children and yourself to take advantage of every opportunity.

The Language of Angels by Richard Michelson

The Language of Angels: A Story About the Reinvention of Hebrew by Richard Michelson, illustrated by Karla Gudeon.

I love nonfiction picture books about overlooked and under-reported events and people in history. The Language of Angels is just such a picture book, about Itamar Ben-Avi (Ben-Zion) and his father, Eliezer Ben-Yehuda who were instrumental in the revival and implementation of Hebrew as the official and modern language of the state of Israel.

I knew that when Israel became a nation, that new/old nation adopted Hebrew as their official language. But I had no knowledge at all of the people behind the revival of the modern Hebrew language. When Eliezer Ben-Yehuda moved to Jerusalem in 1881, no one spoke Hebrew as their main, or native language. Today more than three million people speak Hebrew in daily life.

How did Eliezer and Devorah Ben-Yehuda and their son, Ben-Zion, manage to reinvent a language that had been dead as a daily spoken language for over 1500 years? Well, Eliezer started schools where the primary instruction was in Hebrew. And he decided that his children would speak and be spoken to only in Hebrew—a decision which made for a lonely childhood for Ben-Zion, since no one else spoke Hebrew when he was a child. Eliezer Ben-Yehuda also wrote a Hebrew dictionary and enlisted his pupils to help him make up words for modern things such as ice cream cones and bicycles. (Read the book to find out how to add new words to an old language.)

Even with the afterword that has more information about these people and their language-making, I still had unanswered questions. How did Ben-Yehuda get people to agree to have their children educated in Hebrew, an antiquated and unused language at the time? How did someone talk the fledgling government of Israel into adopting Hebrew as the national language? What happened to Ben-Zion during World War II and after? (His father died in 1922.) Of course a picture book can’t answer all the questions one might have about a particular subject, but the fact that this one sparked so many questions is a good recommendation for it.

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Two Books about Appreciating Differences

The One-in-a-Million Boy by Monica Wood.
Different: The Story of an Outside-the-Box Kid and the Mom Who Loved Him by Nathan and Sally Clarkson.

First I picked up The One-in-a-Million Boy, as recommended by Lisa Spence and by Shelia at Dodging Raindrops. It was a good read about a boy who befriends a centenarian, 104 years old, and entices her to dream of and work toward becoming a Guinness World Record holder. It’s also about how the boy’s musician father, Quinn Porter, becomes friends with Miss Ona Vitkus, and how families bond and how they fail one another.

The boy is just referred to as “the boy” throughout the book. He never gets a name. Maybe that omission emphasizes the difference inherent in the boy. He is a one-in-a-million boy, maybe autistic, maybe just quirky. He makes lists, counts items a lot, memorizes records from the Guinness Book. The story about the boy, Miss Vitkus, and Quinn has some memorable minor characters, too: Ted Ledbetter, a well-intentioned but unimaginative scoutmaster; the members of an up-and-coming Christian band; and the boy’s mother, Belle, who spends most of the book in the throes of grief and what I would diagnose as PTSD. It’s an excellent story about appreciating others for their differences and yet expecting them to grow and learn from their mistakes.

And that’s just the theme of Nathan and Sally Clarkson’s memoir, Different. Nathan Clarkson started out different as a baby, not sleeping, screaming for no apparent reason, fussy, difficult. And as he grew, the differences grew, too. He was eventually diagnosed with a whole alphabet soup of “differences”—ADHD, OCD, ODD—plus some learning differences, personality quirks, and a strong will. Put it all together, and you’ve got an array of problems and diagnoses, but Sally Clarkson, Nathan’s mother, had to learn to appreciate the person inside Nathan, help him deal with the issues that his differences caused, and also show him that God made Nathan Clarkson for a purpose, to glorify God and enjoy Him forever, even with his many differences.

Told in alternating voices from Sally’s point of view and then from Nathan’s as a 28 year old man looking back on his childhood, teen years, and young adulthood, the book is insightful and inspiring.

Sally: “Being Nathan’s mother taught me so much about what really matters in life. It taught me how to see people through a different lens, to appreciate and validate the variety and differences of people without casting judgment on the ways they differ from me. I grew to become a healthier person as I came to understand and practice living well with the miraculous gift of Nathan in my life.”

Nathan: “In my soul I knew I wanted to be the hero of the story I was in. But so often, like the knight in my picture book, I felt tiny in comparison to the looming dragons of anxiety, learning disabilities, obsessions, and self-doubt. So often I wondered how I could ever win. But still I marched to battle, trusting that in the end the heroes always win, even if they’re beaten, tried, and worn. That while the battle is hard, good will always defeat evil and light will always win out over dark.”

I recommend both of these books for every parent who has a “different” child, one who at his or her best is amazing and beautiful, but at his or her worst is frustrating, oppositional, and enigmatic. Also these are good books for those of us who deal every day with being “different” in some way ourselves, or who know someone who is just a little—or a lot–strange and unusual and in need of understanding and affirmation. And that’s all us, isn’t it?

The Poet and the Vampyre by Andrew McConnell Stott

The Poet and the Vampyre: The Curse of Byron and the Birth of Literature’s Greatest Monsters by Andrew McConnell Stott.

What sad, dissipated, lost, and horrible people! This book is about the Shelleys, Percy Bysshe and Mary, Mary’s step-sister, Claire, Lord Byron, and for some reason, Byron’s erstwhile doctor, John Polidori. It’s mostly about the summer of 1816, when Lord Byron and the Shelley ménage and Doctor Polidori were all in Geneva, hanging out and being sad, dissipated, lost, and horrible. Oh, and they also decided to enliven a rainy day by competing to see who could write the best horror story. Mary “won” because she was the only one who finished and published her story, Frankenstein. Polidori wrote something called The Vampyre, too, but it may or may not have been mostly plagiarized from Lord Byron

Percy and Mary were on the run from Mary’s family, unmarried and plagued by debt. They had been together for two years by the summer of 1816 and had a son, William, but they believed in “free love” and therefore were not married. There were persistent rumors that Claire, who ran away with them when they first eloped, was also Percy Shelley’s lover. However, according to this book, Claire only had eyes for Lord Byron, and she was probably already pregnant with Byron’s child when the Byron contingent and the Shelley group met up in Geneva in May of 1816. If it all sounds complicated and rather tawdry, it was.

The Poet and the Vampyre is chronologically scattered, maybe because the Shelleys and Lord Byron and Claire and Polidori led such nomadic and convoluted lives. Lord Byron was also “on the run” in 1816, escaping from his estranged wife and tattered reputation in England. He took up with Claire mostly because she kept throwing her self at him, and he had no power or reason or moral principles to make him resist. Then, there’s a baby, and Byron wants to ignore it, ignore Claire and forget the spring and summer interlude with her ever happened. The narrative keeps going back and forth between Byron’s former life in England and his rise to fame, the Shelleys and Claire and their former lives in England before the great elopement, John Polidori’s history and current situation as Byron’s personal doctor, all of the mess they made of their lives after the summer in Geneva, and various and sundry other anecdotes and historical notes that the author decides to throw in here and there.

The book could have been much better organized, and I never did understand why Polidori was even a focus of the story. Maybe the author felt sorry for him because at the time Mr. Polidori felt ignored and overlooked by the great poets, Byron and Shelley. Since the Romantic poets were so very confessional and personal in their poetry, it makes since to read about their actual lives. Unfortunately, reading about the casual cruelty and lack of any moral standard that Shelley and especially Byron exhibited in their personal lives makes me not want to read their poetry at all. Ever.

I would suggest reading the poetry on its own merits and knowing as little about the poets as possible. That method of literary engagement might mean that you interpret some of the poems of Byron and Shelley in a way that they weren’t meant, but at least you would skip the scandal and gossip and general nastiness. I did find out that Mr. Polidori was the uncle of the Pre-Raphaelite poets Dante Gabriel Rossetti and Christina Rossetti. Interesting, but again I’m not sure it’s terribly significant that the Rossettis had an uncle who was Lord Byron’s personal doctor for a few months.

Jonathan Edwards by Simonetta Carr

I’m spending my Thursdays here on the blog in the eighteenth century, 1700’s.

This picture book biography of the great preacher and theologian, Jonathan Edwards (b.1703, d.1758), is just beautiful. The book is hardcover, printed on lovely paper, large print, with both color illustrations and photographs of important documents and places in Edwards’ life. I want all of the books in this series.

The information about Jonathan Edwards is well-written and organized, and the presentation is, again, just lovely. Mrs. Carr, a homeschool mom and former teacher, tells students about Edwards’ scientific explorations of spiders and Newtonian physics. She explains the ins and outs of the First Great Awakening revivals, and the theological controversies that accompanied those revivals in terms that a tenor eleven year old could understand. She writes about Edwards’ youth and his courtship and marriage to Sarah Pierpont and his friendship and partnership with George Whitefield. The biography is thorough enough, but also with only 60 pages, it won’t exhaust the young readers it’s meant to engage.

At the end of the book Mrs. Carr includes a time line of Jonathan Edwards’ life, a list of interesting facts about Mr. Edwards and his lifetime that didn’t fit into the main narrative of the book, and a facsimile of an actual letter from Edwards to his daughter Mary in 1749. The letter is inspiring, It made me want to copy it and send my handwritten (plagiarized) letter to my own grown children who are far away from home.

Here’s just the beginning of the letter:

My dear child,
You may well think it is natural for a parent to be concerned for a child at so great a distance away, so far out of view, and so far out of the reach of communication; where, if you should be stricken with any dangerous sickness, which should issue in death–you might probably be in your grave before we would hear of your danger. But yet, my greatest concern is not for your health, or temporal welfare–but for the good of your soul.

Though you are at so great a distance from us–yet God is everywhere. You are much out of the reach of our care–but you are in His hands every moment! We have not the comfort of seeing you–but He sees you! His eye is always upon you. And if you may but live sensibly near to God, and have His gracious presence, it is no great matter if you are far distant from us. I had rather you should remain hundreds of miles distant from us–and have God near to you–than to have you always with us, and live at a distance from God.

Isn’t that the most deeply loving letter you’ve read in a long time? Read the entire letter here.

Jonathan Edwards by Simonetta Carr is one biography in the series, Christian Biographies for Young Readers. Illustrated by Matt Abraxas. Published by Reformation Heritage Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Other books in the series, all authored by Mrs. Carr with the same stunning illustrations by Mr. Abraxas:

Augustine of Hippo.
Anselm of Canterbury.
Athanasius.
John Calvin.
John Knox.
Marie Durand.
Martin Luther.
John Owen.

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Texas Yankee by Nina Brown Baker

Texas Tuesday: Texas Yankee; The Story of Gail Borden by Nina Brown Baker.

Benito Juarez, Peter the Great, Simon Bolivar, F.W. Woolworth, America Vespucci, Sir Walter Raleigh, and Nellie Bly are a few of the other celebrities and historical figures that Nina Brown Baker wrote about in her prolific career as a children’s biographer. Texas Yankee, about the inventor of condensed milk and sweetened condensed milk, is a biography in Ms. Brown’s short, slightly fictionalized, and highly readable style. The story begins with twelve year old Gail Borden and his family moving from New York to Kentucky and ends 129 pages later with Gail Borden’s death at his ranch near Columbus, Texas in 1874 at the age of 72. Borden’s life in-between these two events took him from New York to Kentucky to Ohio to Mississippi to Texas and back again up north to Connecticut and New York to try to sell his inventions and ideas to an Eastern seaboard audience.

Then, came the disruption of the Civil War, and Gail Borden found himself on the opposite side of the slavery and Union issues from most of his fellow Texans and therefore in exile so to speak from his beloved Texas. But after the war and the bitterness from the war had died down, Gail Borden was able to return to Texas a successful man who gave travelers and immigrants and settlers of the West a way to transport good, healthy milk over long distances without having it go bad and without having to purchase milk for their children from questionable sources along the way.

I once met a restaurant owner who read a book about Gail Borden when she was in fifth grade and was so inspired by her reading that she looked to him as an example for her business dealings and also made a lifelong study of the history of Texas. Nina Brown Baker’s book about Gail Borden may have been the book she read as a fifth grader, for all I know. At any rate, I can see how this book and Gail Borden’s life would be inspirational. Mr. Borden’s commitment to Christ is a thread throughout the biography, not over-emphasized but definitely acknowledged. The only problem in recommending this biography to your fifth grader is that it was published in 1955 and is now out of print. I do find one other biography of Borden, Milk, Meat Biscuits, and the Terraqueous Machine by Mary Dodson, but it’s from 1987 and also out of print. And there’s a Childhood of Famous Americans series volume, Gail Borden: Resourceful Boy by Adrian Paradis, also out of print.

It seems as if the subject of Gail Borden, supporter of the Texas revolution and persistent inventor, might be ripe for a new biography by some up-and-coming adult or children’s biographer.