I have a new article up on Patrol Magazine (yeah, I know; it’s the first in a long while). Patrol recently changed up the philosophy and design of the site, making it much more of a blog-type format, as well as trying to focus more on consistently substantive and “Christianly” reflections on the world today. In the spirit of that, today was posted I review I wrote for Thomas Nelson Publishers on Jack Cashill‘s newest book, Popes & Bankers. Some of you may remember that while I was in the middle of reading the book, I wrote for Patrol about Cashill, and how I thought he was a propagandist, revisionist historian, and (frankly) crazy. I also mused about how it was that Thomas Nelson Publishers, a Christian publishing house came to publish this particular book. This caused a response from someone involved in the nonfiction acquisitions process at Thomas Nelson that was involved in getting Popes & Bankers published. I get what he was saying at the time, but even now, after having finished the book, I stand by what I said. You can read the exchange below after the link and the break. Enjoy the review and leave your comments!
Here was the exchange:
Joel Miller: Paul, I appreciate your taking a stab at the book. I head up acquisitions for one of Nelson’s nonfiction teams, and Popes and Bankers was a book that I signed. Jack is certainly controversial, but don’t be so quick to dismiss. The Bill Ayers connection is well attested at this point. Christopher Andersen covered it in his book, Barack and Michelle (see pages 164-166). Ayers stitched the final MS together from Obama’s unfinished work and a “trunkload of notes.” Compositionally, stylistically it’s Ayers’ work. And Ayers was not a “terrorist,” in scare quotes, as you suggest. He was a terrorist in truth, a man who set bombs to protest the Vietnam War.
Nelson has done popular history like Popes and Bankers for some time. I also signed Stephen Mansfield to do The Search for God and Guinness, Judge Andrew P. Napolitano’s Dred Scott’s Revenge, and many others. I also signed, for some additional context, The Faith of Barack Obama by Mansfield. I hope we are known for publishing pointed books that hit a nerve with people. I think Popes and Bankers does that very well. Like Reply
–paul in reply to Joel Miller: No, I really like Popes and Bankers. Like I said, it is a very enjoyable read. My frustration is when a Christian publishing house gives voice to only a certain sect of “controversial” authors — the conservative ones. I’ve heard Stephen Mansfield preach, and he’s very good, but definitely conservative, and Judge Napolitano is obviously a well known commentator on Fox News. I would love to see you sign, say, someone from MSNBC, perhaps, to write a “popular history”, or maybe someone like James Carville could write a book for you.
In the end, my issue is that history is never unbiased, nor should it pretend to be. And if you want to be a conservative publishing house, then be that. But I think it does injustice and injury to the Gospel to drape one’s publishing house in the cross and then provide a view of “popular history” that is clearly from one political corner of the world. It gives the impression that the “Christian” view of history from this authoritative and influential “Christian” publishing house is ultimately the same as a “conservative” view of history, and that kind of identification of one with the other has set this nation back about hundred years in theological nuance, care, and practice.
If your publishing house cares about the church, I would hope it would not entangle itself in the political wranglings of the world, just to sell a few books.