Four Views on Christian Spirituality
Edited by Stanley N. Gundry and Bruce Demarest (Zondervan)

This helpful volume features Eastern Orthodox (Bradley Nassif), Roman Catholic (Scott Hahn), "progressive mainline" (Joseph D. Driskill), and evangelical (Evan Howard) scholars in dialogue. By far the most readable essay is Hahn's. The others require a reader determined to slog through or skim, but all reward attention. Another volume in the Counterpoint series gives Four Views on the Lord's Supper. Still, it's surprising that the Eucharist doesn't figure more prominently in this volume.

Masters of Command
Alexander, Hannibal, Caesar, and the Genius of Leadership Barry Strauss (Simon & Schuster)

Usually I avoid books with chapter titles like "Ten Qualities of Successful Commanders." But Barry Strauss is one of my favorite historians, and I enjoyed this book. Comparing and contrasting the strengths and weaknesses of these three great generals, Strauss also draws enduring lessons: "In spite of many changes in technology, since ancient times the principles of war have changed as little as human nature has."

Roadside Picnic
Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, translated by Olena Bormashenko (Chicago Review Press)

First appearing in English translation in 1977, this classic of Russian science fiction (the inspiration for Andrei Tarkovsky's film Stalker) has been newly translated by a professor of mathematics, Olena Bormashenko, whose version reads more fluently than the earlier one. Many novels involving contact with aliens have what might be called a theological dimension, and that's certainly true of Roadside Picnic, in which the Strugatskys took some familiar conventions of the genre and applied a lot of torque.

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