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The Breath of God: A Novel of Suspense Paperback – March 1, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: West Hills Press; Advance Reading Copy edition (March 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933512865
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933512860
  • Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (367 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,532 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In his first novel, Small (God as the Ground of Being: Tillich and Buddhism in Dialogue) puts an interesting spin on the age-old secret that could undermine Christianity theme, but he relies too much on stock characters and plot devices familiar from countless Dan Brown clones. Grant Matthews, a religious studies grad student at Atlanta's Emory University "interested in the early development of Christianity during the first century"—in particular, "how contact with other cultures might have influenced this development"—hopes to find answers in Bhutan. In the Himalayas, he looks into the legend of Issa, a boy who made a spiritual journey through India some 2,000 years ago, and meets an attractive American woman who's part Asian. After discovering ancient texts chronicling Issa's travels, Matthews becomes the target of right-wing fundamentalists. Back in the U.S., a fanatical assassin with skin problems destroys the only photographic evidence of his find. The usual abductions, murders, and betrayals follow. (Mar.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


2012 Gold Award--Fiction
--Nautilus Book Awards

2012 Gold Medal--Adventure Fiction
--2012 Living Now Book Awards

Silver Medal for Best Regional Fiction - SouthEast
--Independent Publisher Book Awards (IPPY Awards)

Book of the Year Award Finalist
—ForeWord Reviews

"The Breath of God is a spectacular thriller that spans the world, history, and the limits of imagination; an epic adventure that left me yearning for more"
—Rich Doetsch, author of The Thieves of Darkness and The 13th Hour

"As with many contemporary thrillers revolving around a spiritual quest, the novel contains chases, murder, and romance. Verdict This tale is for fans of Dan Brown's thrillers as well as readers who enjoy visionary fiction."
—Library Journal

"This meticulously researched, thought-provoking masterpiece is filled with high adventure and intrigue. Based on an actual document from 1887 claiming to have seen controversial religious texts, Small’s stunning debut reveals the impact of such a find."
RT Rating: 4 1/2 stars TOP PICK!
—RT Book Reviews

"Jeffrey Small explodes on the writing scene with his first novel and this book has Best Seller written all over it! The Breath of God is a riveting novel that grips the reader from the first chapter and does not let go until the last paragraph. Fans of the Celestine Prophecy (James Redfield), and Conversations with God (Neale Donald Walsch) will place The Breath of God right alongside these books in their library!"
—FeatureMe2 Reviews

JEFFREY SMALL, a Harvard/Yale/Oxford-educated speaker on religion and spirituality, makes an impressive literary debut ... Small’s themes, such as the common ground of the world’s religions, are timely.
—Atlanta Magazine

The Breath of God is a spellbinding novel, full of suspense as well as the thrills of a lifetime. Very hard to put down. It also brings religion to the forefront of the reader's mind, no matter what faith he or she follows, raising questions that have not been asked before, as well as bringing other parts of the world into the living room. Not to be missed. Excellent reading.

"First time novelist Jeffrey Small has created a thrilling adventure tale that spans cultures and religious traditions while also exploring fundamental spiritual truths. I was intrigued by the unique proposition that lies at the heart of the plot and captivated by the characters that keep the story moving. If you enjoy reading a fast moving mystery with the added bonus of a challenging investigation of religious beliefs then this is the book for you."
—Steve Floyd, CEO August House Books and Story Cove

"In this gripping tale – played out against an intriguing international setting – East meets West, mystery meets romance, the human spirit meets the divine spirit and the reader meets a novelist of the first caliber."
—The Honorable Raymond Seitz, former U.S. Ambassador to Great Britain

"In his first novel, Small...puts an interesting spin on the age-old secret that could undermine Christianity."
—Publishers Weekly

“What fun, for the heart and for the soul! In this compelling thriller, Jeffrey Small treks through a fascinating nineteenth century legend—or is it a hoax, or is it a healthy exercise in our broadening spiritual awareness? In this delightful book, Small also explores the popular distinction between religion as exploitation and religion as mysticism. Enjoy it!”
—The Very Reverend Samuel G. Candler, Dean of the Cathedral of St. Philip

From the very first pages, The Breath of God will draw you in! Jeffrey Small's masterful storytelling will take you from Himalayan monasteries to the American Bible Belt in a heart pounding adventure filled with twists, turns and shocking revaluations that will rock the foundation of traditional Christianity. This gripping roller coaster of a novel will keep you guessing until the very end. If you liked The Da Vinci Code, you will love this book.
—Darren Main, author of Yoga and the Path of the Urban Mystic

"In Dan Brown-esque fashion, Jeffrey Small has crafted a thriller based on historical research, scholarship, and his own creative gift. The book is for those who are not afraid to think or ask the question “What if?” It engages the reader on many levels with a tension between action and ideas; it offers pleasurable escape but also food for thought. Small is right on target with characters we love and those we love to hate, a taut narrative that spans 2000 years and transports the reader halfway around the world, abundant sensory detail that invites us to smell, taste, hear and feel what the characters are experiencing, and a heart-stopping pace that won’t let you relax. A very impressive debut that solidly hits the mark!"
—Kathy McClelland, Director of Libraries, The Westminster Schools, Atlanta, GA

“The Breath of God, the debut thriller by Jeffrey Small, is sure to create controversy while exploring the plausibility of an ancient legend that could tie the world’s religions to each other. Although fiction, Mr. Small paints a colorful and realistic depiction of India that reflects the multi-faceted environment of daily existence in that country. Mr. Small also weaves a suspenseful journey for protagonist Grant Matthews that keeps the reader coming back for more. The most intriguing aspects of the book, in my opinion, are the parallels drawn among the major world religions and how such religions connect despite their many differences. A must read for those that love suspense and mystery; also for those who wish to expand their knowledge of the world’s religions, check out this novel.”
—Kenneth A. Cutshaw, Former Honorary Consul of India

"Adding to his impressive scholarship work on world religions, Jeffrey Small distinguishes himself as a great story teller in his first novel, The Breath of God. Small brings the reader on a page turning adventure, as Grant Matthew’s goes east in search of the ancient mystery of Issa. This story of mystery and intrigue leads the reader down a fascinating path toward uncovering the origins of the world’s major religions. The history, the legend, the suspense and the story of The Breath of God will keep the reader on the edge of his seat from start to finish.”
—Rev. Lang Lowrey, President of The General Theological Seminary

“Jeffrey Small skillfully maneuvers this spectacular historical mystery between the Indian subcontinent and the American south, where Evangelicals go to war against a scholar’s tantalizing discovery. You’ll be fascinated by the stunning connections between the world’s faiths that Small unveils against today’s background of savage religious hostilities.”
—Parul Hinzen,

This was a page turner! From the very first sentence to very last word this book kept me captivated. It's a combination of religious/mystery/historical/modern day thriller and I found it to be just about unputdownable....The descriptions of place are so well written I almost felt like I was actually there. The thriller aspect had me racing through the pages to find out what was going to happen next. Overall this was a fascinating tale of what can lurk behind blind faith and what is possible if you open your mind.

A Breathless Quest.....Jeffrey Small executes perfectly the all-too-often violent struggle between blind belief and unbelieving intelligence alongside the mystical quest upon which all the world's religions rest. Few religious novels can be entertaining, educational and inspiring at the same time, but The Breath of Godpulls off this literary hat trick adoitly.
—The Progressive Christian

"A fast-paced adventure with a deep backdrop of religious scholarship."
—Kirkus Reviews

More About the Author

Jeffrey Small is the author of the bestselling thriller, THE BREATH OF GOD, which won the Nautilus Book Award Gold Medal for Best Fiction and was hailed as "a thought-provoking masterpiece" by RT Book Reviews, "visionary fiction" by Library Journal, and "a fast-paced adventure" by Kirkus. His second novel, THE JERICHO DECEPTION, was the #8 bestselling novel on Amazon and won the Independent Publisher Book Award Gold Medal for best Suspense/Thriller. Kirkus Reviews called it a "kinetic, engrossing thriller...a must read, while bestselling author Douglas Preston described it as "a ripping good novel" and Gayle Lynds raved that it is "a thrilling roller coaster ride into the beauty and darkness of the human mind."

Jeffrey is a summa cum laude graduate of Yale University and a magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School. He holds a Masters in the Study of Religions from Oxford University. Jeffrey has also studied yoga in India, practiced meditation in Bhutan, explored the ancient temples of Egypt, and journeyed throughout the Holy Land. He is a thought-provoking columnist for the Huffington Post and also blogs at

Jeffrey is an acclaimed speaker, having taught public speaking at Harvard, lectured to thousands on religion and spirituality in the 21st century, and been interviewed by numerous national media.

When not pursuing his passion for writing, Jeffrey is the founder and CEO of an Atlanta-based real estate investment company, MDH Partners. Among his eclectic hobbies, he is also a former US champion amateur ballroom dancer with his wife, Alison. For more information, please visit

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

114 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Tigerlily on May 28, 2011
Format: Paperback
Like Jeffrey Small, I am also an Oxford Theologian. However, in my spare time I like to think I am a fairly 'normal' person... though one who is addicted to The Mentalist, Law & Order, and other mystery shows.

As a theologian, I can confirm that The Breath of God is impeccably researched. That Small has been able to integrate the characteristics of Christian Evangelism with Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism is a triumph in-and-of-itself. However, most of us do not care about such details. We are merely interested in an entertaining read at the end of a long day. The Breath of God is exactly that! It is simultaneously deep and light-hearted; soulful and yet fun. It made me laugh out loud in places, which most books do not make me do. And it made me question my own dogmas, which most books definitely do not do.

The real brilliance of The Breath of God is that it is inherently readable. That is, it will entertain you on the beach, in a plane, and can even help you nod off to sleep at bed-time. The chapters are so well crafted that you only need to read a few pages at most before a section ends, allowing for an 'I just can't put this book down' read-through in one day or 'I only have 5 minutes' digestion over a period of weeks. As I am currently in the latter category, I can assure the more time-constrained readers that it will keep your interest and you won't get lost when life's duties distract you from the book.

Treat yourself. Get The Breath of God as soon as possible. Enjoy!
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52 of 54 people found the following review helpful By TKSF on March 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was given the book as a gift and wasn't sure I would like it. But after 30 pages I couldn't put it down. The narrative goes quickly, ala Davinci Code, but in many ways the story is much more interesting as it deals with a thought provoking and incredibly interesting subplot. I loved the way the story moves around the world and the descriptions of Asia and Buddhism were fascinating. If you are looking for a engrossing read and one that makes you think, I would highly recommend The Breath of God.
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51 of 58 people found the following review helpful By Harriet Klausner #1 HALL OF FAME on March 5, 2011
Format: Paperback
Emory University doctorate student Grant Matthews knows he is running out of time on submitting his thesis. His topic focuses on the impact other cultures had on the early development of Christianity. In particular over the objections of the school's advisory board, he pursues a legend of an Asian boy traveling fourteen-fifteen centuries before Marco Polo went the other way.

In Asia, he learns from Buddhist monks that what he seeks might exist in one of the monasteries in Bhutan. He journeys to the Himalayan nation where his guide is a former Buddhist monk working to feed his family. He learns more about Issa and the lad's spiritual journey that affirms his subject loved and wrote down his travels. Grant meets Kristin Misaki and soon finds the treasure he sought. However, what happened to a Russian late in the nineteenth century when he made the same discovery soon proves history repeats itself. Christian fundamentalists are willing to kill, destroy or hide to prevent anything heretical that affirms that the early founders were in touch with other cultures for some of the religion's critical foundations coming east to west.

This is a super Brownian thriller that is at its best when the beleaguered hero is in Asia pursuing the Issa documents amidst Buddhist monks. The Christian conspiracy to shut down the heresy feels more like a sub-genre requirement and detracts from a powerful insightful novel. Still, based on a real Russian Notovitch was condemned as a heretic for publishing his finding of the Saint Issa scrolls in Himis, India, as those ancient documents explained the "Lost Years of Jesus", overall The Breath of God is a terrific tale.

Harriet Klausner
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By AvidReader66 on January 14, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
As a student of Buddhism, who has always considered the interconnection of all major world religions, I truly love the idea behind this book. The author paints a very accurate portrait of how religion can tear mankind apart or pull us together, depending upon the mindset of the faithful. The portrayal of religious fanaticism and the extent to which some will go to protect fundamentalist ideology was right on! The author creates an exciting thriller while delving into some deep social issues. I was impressed by the author's ability to tackle very touchy topics without attacking any one particular religion or faith. This is a must read for anyone who does not blindly follow a religious doctrine, but instead studies & questions in search of a personal truth, the light inside us all.....the breath of God.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on June 19, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I read very few novels but felt myself drawn to read this particular one. A fan of Dan Brown's writing style, this book was right up my alley. Not only was it suspenseful, but the focus on the lost years of Jesus was fascinating and educational.

Thank you Jeffrey Small for a job well done.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Peter Stelling, Atlanta on July 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
Many earlier reviewers have mentioned similarities between Jeffrey's book and those of Dan Brown. I read DA VINCI CODE and was totally disappointed at the ending of that book. I knew as I got deeper into Brown's fantastic plot that he couldn't possibly come up with an ending that would be plausible and satisfying. Jeffrey Small's first novel is a complete 180 from this: It draws you in, keeps you fascinated and on the edge of your seat; and, as you near the end, when you think all the conflict has been resolved, the ugly secret of conspiracy rears its hideous head once more! There is a lot of violence in these pages; I rarely grind my teeth over violence in a book as I do in the cinema. This was one time when I found myself flinching as I read. But it's a creative device that draws the reader closer to the very timely deeper mystery that is being explored: that of the comparative differences and similarities of world religions. I won't go into further detail except to say that Jeffrey Small's fascinating hypothesis has compelled me within five minutes of finishing his novel to go to my computer and order the original book by Nicholas Notovitch on "The Unknown Life of Jesus." Jeffrey has launched me on my own spiritual quest. I recommend to all of you who feel some spiritual urge that you read this book and see if you can resist doing further research on your own!
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