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Friends Journal Book Reviews

Friends Journal is made for readers, and we look forward to introducing our readers to all manner of books relevant to the Quaker experience. Every issue is packed with insightful and honest reviews of books of interest to Friends.

© Marta Rusek

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© Marta Rusek

Quaker Bestsellers 2017

The top ten best-selling books from the 2017 FGC Gathering.

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fearless-benjamin-lay

The Fearless Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became the First Revolutionary Abolitionist

By Marcus Rediker. Beacon Press, 2017. 194 pages. $26.95/hardcover; $25.99/eBook. Should readers choose to read this compelling biography—and those who see this review are hereby forewarned not to deny themselves that experience—they should approach it carefully, wearing asbestos gloves. It glows red hot, both in subject matter and its author’s approach. Let’s deal with the […]

Larry Ingle is an historian of Quakerism whose most recent publication is Nixon’s First Cover-up: The Religious Life of a Quaker President. A member of Chattanooga (Tenn.) Meeting, he is retired from the history department of the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


Posted in: Books, September 2017, September 2017 Books
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what-have-we-done

What Have We Done: The Moral Injury of Our Longest Wars

By David Wood. Little, Brown and Company, 2016. 291 pages. $28/hardcover; $14.99/eBook. “War is Hell.” —General William Tecumseh Sherman, 1879 War has probably existed as long as humankind has existed. And contrary to what some believe, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and moral injury have existed as well. There are records of Roman soldiers after 30 […]

J.E. McNeil is a member of Friends Meeting of Washington (D.C.) and, as an attorney, a longtime supporter of those who say no to war. She spent 11 years as the executive director of the Center on Conscience & War and longer as part of the GI Rights Hotline. She participated as a vetting attorney of military members testifying at the Winter Soldier event organized by Iraq Veterans Against the War in 2008.


Posted in: September 2017, September 2017 Books
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hidden-life-of-trees

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate—Discoveries from a Secret World

By Peter Wohlleben. Greystone Books, 2016. 251 pages. $24.95/hardcover; $24.99/eBook. “After you’ve read Wohlleben’s book, a walk in the woods will never be the same.” That’s what it says on the cover of The Hidden Life of Trees, and it is so very true. I look at the woods that surround our home in Vermont […]

Ruah Swennerfelt, a member of Burlington (Vt.) Meeting, is a homesteader and activist. She is the author of Rising to the Challenge: The Transition Movement and People of Faith and numerous articles on living simply.


Posted in: Books, September 2017, September 2017 Books
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discovering-humor-in-the-bible

Discovering Humor in the Bible: An Explorer’s Guide

By Howard R. Macy. Cascade Books, 2016. 140 pages. $19/paperback or eBook. Quakers have a tradition dating back at least to the mid-twentieth century of writing gently comedic books. Jessamyn West filled her 1945 The Friendly Persuasion with homespun humor (think of Jess hiding the forbidden piano in his attic), and Elton Trueblood‘s 1964 The […]

Diane Reynolds is a member of Stillwater Meeting in Barnesville, Ohio, and a former member of Patapsco Meeting in Ellicott City, Md.


Posted in: Books, September 2017, September 2017 Books
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Hallelujah-anyway

Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy

By Anne Lamott. Riverhead Books, 2017. 176 pages. $20/hardcover; $22/paperback; $10.99/eBook. “I’m not sure I even recognize the ever-presence of mercy anymore, the divine and the human: the messy, crippled, transforming, heartbreaking, lovely, devastating presence of mercy. But I have come to believe that I am starving to death for it, and my world is, […]

Carl Blumenthal attends Brooklyn (N.Y.) Meeting.


Posted in: Books, September 2017, September 2017 Books
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homegoing

Homegoing: A Novel and The Underground Railroad: A Novel

Homegoing: A Novel. By Yaa Gyasi. Knopf, 2016. 320 pages. $26.95/hardcover; $16/paperback; $11.99/eBook. The Underground Railroad: A Novel. By Colson Whitehead. Doubleday, 2016. 320 pages. $26.95/hardcover; $27/paperback; $13.99/eBook. As a history teacher, I find the real world the greatest story of all. In recent years, however, I have come to appreciate how fiction can help […]

Lauren Brownlee is a member of Bethesda (Md.) Meeting and serves on Baltimore Yearly Meeting’s Growing Diverse Leadership and Peace and Social Concerns committees.


Posted in: Books, September 2017, September 2017 Books
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books-FaceToFace

Face to Face: Early Quaker Encounters with the Bible

By T. Vail Palmer Jr. Barclay Press, 2016. 288 pages. $20/paperback. In Face to Face, T. Vail Palmer Jr. creates a rich tapestry woven with many threads and leading to a compelling depiction of important aspects of Quaker history well worth pondering. One way to identify those threads is by the questions which prompt them. […]

Tom Paxson is a member of Kendal Meeting in Kennett Square, Pa. Kendal Meeting is a member of Western Quarterly Meeting of Philadelphia Yearly Meeting.


Posted in: August 2017 Books, Books, The Art of Dying
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books-moral-commerce

Moral Commerce: Quakers and the Transatlantic Boycott of the Slave Labor Economy

By Julie L. Holcomb. Cornell University Press, 2016. 252 pages. $39.95/hardcover or eBook. Those who know much about Quaker history are aware of sharp differences among Friends, especially since the late eighteenth century, over theology, discipline, and centralization versus local autonomy. But Friends found unity against slavery fairly early, scattered in the 1680s, increasing in […]

Larry Ingle is an historian of Quakerism whose most recent publication is Nixon’s First Cover-up: The Religious Life of a Quaker President. A member of Chattanooga (Tenn.) Meeting, he is retired from the history department of University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.


Posted in: August 2017 Books, Books, The Art of Dying
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