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Winning With the King's Gambit (Batsford Chess Library)
Winning With the King's Gambit (Batsford Chess Library)
by Joe Gallagher
Edition: Paperback
18 used & new from $22.42

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book - just a little dated, July 18, 2006
This book is now 13 years old, and the theory for King's Gambit has obviously advanced. Many of the novelties and new ideas proposed by Gallagher made their way into the modern game. Some were discarded after a few years, but some redefined entire varations.

This is, to date, the most exciting book about the King's Gambit that I've read. It really does make you want to play! Unfortunately, when up against opponents who maintain good opening knowledge, some of the lines won't be very helpful. Still Gallagher does a good job explaining the concepts - e.g. benefits and drawbacks of trading an e4 pawn for the f4 pawn, how white's queenside majority can be an asset come endgame, etc - which makes the book excellent for those who want to dig deeper.

I wish he'd write a new book, but unfortunately very few are brave enough to challenge him with 1...e5 and it seems he hasn't had many opportunities to break new ground. One of the drawbacks of the original (and so far only) edition was the complete exclusion of 3. Bc4 which has become increasingly important in modern, high-level chess (Short, Adams, Ivanchuk, Polgars, etc).

In short, if you want the latest and greatest this probably isn't the book for you. Get McDonald's book (some newer challenges from black) along with Nunn's Chess Openings (the section on King's Gambit was done by Gallagher and contains some responses to McDonald's research). If you want to come to an appreciation and understanding of the opening, there isn't anything better...yet.

The King's Gambit: A Modern View of a Swashbuckling Opening
The King's Gambit: A Modern View of a Swashbuckling Opening
by Neil McDonald
Edition: Paperback
17 used & new from $28.60

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A few good spots but depressing, July 18, 2006
I agree with the other reviewers...McDonald simply didn't seem to find much excitement about playing/discussing the opening. His basic assessments were usually favorable towards black in the critical lines - even in some of the lines that Joe Gallagher judged good for white. A few times in these spots he would only leave a "I prefer black" backed by no analysis.

What's also disappointing is that when white did reach a difficult position, McDonald offered no real possibilities for improvement. It's as if he had given up long ago, and was merely documenting his reasons to abandon the opening.

It was fun seeing some of Gallagher's opinion about the new lines for black in Nunn's Chess Openings. In fact, there were more new ideas for white in three pages of numbers (albeit with no analysis) than there were in the whole of McDonald's book.

That said (and I'm obviously biased as a proponent of white in this opening), there was some decent analysis and some enjoyable games used. McDonald also resisted the temptation to copy many games from Gallagher's earlier book so it does get a rating of 3 stars from me. It probably deserves fewer, but I eat up anything about this opening.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 16, 2007 7:47 AM PDT

Unlocking the Bible
Unlocking the Bible
by David Pawson
Edition: Paperback
58 used & new from $12.76

55 of 56 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Pushes the reader further into the Bible, February 7, 2006
This review is from: Unlocking the Bible (Paperback)
Those of us stateside aren't as familiar with Pawson as our British counterparts. His writings, however, are usually superb and this is no exception. It's huge - and takes forever to read - but very few other books are so successful at nudging you towards the Bible.

This volume contains a systematic, book-by-book overview of the Scripture. For each book, he gives the reader a plethora of important contextual information (history, grammar, etc) and then gives a highlight of the main themes. It's not anywhere near comprehensive, though (what book like this could be?). Many chapters will leave the reader wanting more - and that's his point. Essentially, this book is a 1350-page menu. Read the menu, and then decide which course to chew on and digest first.

This is the only book I've read so far that gives me a desire to study Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy, Jeremiah, Lamentations, etc.

Although Pawson has routinely come out and strongly taken sides in various debates (predestination/free will, hell, prophecy/tongues, end times, etc) this book is not argumentative at all. His purpose is to push people further into the Bible for themselves. He shows admirable restraint in leaving his views contained to one or two paragraphs, not allowing them to grow into full-blown chapter-long arguments (like many authors do). I'll put it this way: even if I strongly disagreed with the author on every doctrine I just mentioned, my recommendation wouldn't change.

I cannot think of a better book for new believers to read than this. All at once you get

- An excellent reference to refer to when beginning a new study

- Pretty thorough coverage of the basics of Christianity

- Tons of historical and grammatical context to help with interpretation and application issues

- Motivation to make Bible study more than a just a discipline - a fun hobby

Five stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Mar 16, 2014 2:14 AM PDT

Try! John Mayer Trio Live in Concert
Try! John Mayer Trio Live in Concert
Offered by skyvo-direct-usa
Price: $10.89
110 used & new from $0.01

5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars John Mayer is No SRV, February 2, 2006
Most of the negative reviews thus far could be summed up as this:

"I can't believe all the good reviews. Don't people know what blues music is anymore? This guy is white, young, has videos on MTV, and somehow has won the admiration of many of the blues greats. But this doesn't make him legit, as ANY true, honest fan of blues will tell you. There's no way that someone like him can understand the gut-wrenching humanity that is a prerequisite to the blues.

He plays too fast, doesn't have any feeling, and plays way too loud making everything muddy. He may write "songs", but these are just poorly-lyricized melodies. He's not original - all of his technique comes straight from the blues greats such as B.B., Albert, and Jimi. In short, he has nothing to add to the genre and is just diluting it in some vain attempt to reach the masses."

What's funny to me is that EVERYTHING above was said about Stevie Ray Vaughan, who has since been almost universally hailed as one of blues' greatest. In fact, it's been said about every popular blues guitarist since the 70's.

For those who don't listen to blues regularly, ignore any comments that are reminiscent of what I wrote above. It's one of the funny things about the blues genre - it eats its own children for a few years almost as a litmus test of authenticity.

From a purely technical standpoint, John Mayer - though quite competant - isn't as proficient as many who have come before him. (Granted most mediocre blues players - Mayer included - are light-years ahead of their pop/rock counterparts). But the point of blues never was technique. What John Mayer has done is take blues guitar and put it back on the forefront. It's not my favorite disc, but I love it - if for no other reason than it gives todays preteen girls a taste of something far more genuine and satisfying than teenybop pop.

If you're looking for a tour de force of blues guitar, don't let this be your benchmark. But if you're looking for a solid blues rock album with lyrics that are slightly more mainstream (and deeper) than your standard-issue blues trio, go for it.

Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine
Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine
by Wayne Grudem
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $31.99
147 used & new from $20.81

49 of 53 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good - for what it's intended to be, January 29, 2006
I read through all 68 reviews so far...and couldn't help but add my few thoughts. As a preface, these thoughts come from a very strong evangelical reviewer who holds that the Bible is infallible - perfect, complete, and holding no self-contradictions.

Most of the detractors rated it low primarily because it taught doctrine that they disagreed with (usually either from postmodern, cessationalist, or Arminian positions). Most of its praises were from those who agreed with Grudem (calvinists, charismatics, conservatives). In fact, one reviewer in particular rated it lowly and then arrogantly said his "greatest concern" was that Grudem did not believe as he did (I believe it was with regard to dispensationalism).

I look at a book like this and wonder how Greco-Roman our culture has become. Has Plato more sway over our thinking than Jesus? With issues that are currently "hot", our highest goal so easily becomes the achievement of a full, logical "system" (hence the systematic part of the title). I do not believe that the Hebrew mindset elevated logic to anywhere near what Western theologians do today. Remember that all the individual authors of the Bible were Jewish except possibly Luke. As such, I would much prefer a volume titled "Topical Theology" rather than "Systematic Theology".

Thinking systematically forces our minds into a pattern that does its best to turn all Scripture into one big puzzle that we need to put together. Would a Hebrew mind think about it the same way? I see the Hebrews seeking wisdom above logic. If two passages did not fit together, they left them apart, assuming that part of the puzzle had not yet been given.

In fact the very ones who showed the greatest inclination towards systematizing scripture were the very ones Jesus argued with - the pharisees and sadducees. These two groups were so focused on their focuses that their only unity came in opposing Jesus. Not only that, but many Hebrew scholars in Jesus' day had come up with a theology that fused together Jesus' two comings, even though in hindsight it is very clear that one coming was as suffering servant and the second as a victorious King. Further, I see no evidence of Jesus seeking, honoring, or teaching a full logical system. In fact, though He was all-knowing, His focus was utterly practical and pastoral. In Paul's, Peter's, and John's writings, the only letter that comes close to being systematic is Romans, which clearly does not talk about every individual aspect of salvation (Jesus' resurrection being notably absent).

When it comes to the Bible, I believe we should not be so anxious to throw our support behind a given system of understanding (calvinism, arminianism, etc) and instead take Scripture at face value, assuming that until Jesus returns we might not have all the puzzle pieces. The Bible is 100% complete, yet it does not explain everything. I would instead say that God gave us everything that would help us love Jesus deeper during this lifetime, leaving out parts that would only serve to distract from the person we worship.

That said, Grudem's work does a very good job for what is intended to be. I wouldn't agree with all of his conclusions, but I do agree with his humility and purpose. This book increased my love for the Bible and (almost) every minute reading Grudem's words caused me to spend five minutes in the Bible itself. It's not perfect, but that's the best metric of judging books that I've found yet.

Some of the negative reviews mentioned that Grudem almost took for granted what protestants and evangelicals would consider "fundamental" doctrines. This is reasonably accurate, and as I understand it is because his desire is not to re-prove these beliefs. His audience is clearly in the evangelical camp and those seeking a more classical, less relevant (or sometimes very relevant but just way longer) approach should look elsewhere.

With some issues, Grudem does not spend much time discussing opposing viewpoints, undoubtably trying to stay within the constraints of one singular volume. Some of the areas which recieve a lot of attention (and from various perspectives, although he always presents his conclusion clearly) are

- the work of the Holy Spirit today

- Baptism

- Church government

- Salvation, election, free will

- End times

The labels of Grudem's doctrinal stances have been mentioned in other reviews, but I would like to point out that this book is very helpful regardless of one's personal views. At the very least you will find a worthy opponent and fellow student of God's word.
Comment Comments (3) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 1, 2010 5:12 PM PDT

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