Our sister publication Christianity Today just announced its annual book awards, which reminded me that I haven't highlighted any history books for awhile. So here are a few volumes that have recently crossed my desk (or, more accurately, my book-strewn floor):

The Christian Travelers Guide series

Irving Hexham, general editor (Zondervan, 2001)
So far this series offers guides to four European countries: Great Britain, Italy, France, and Germany. Each portable volume begins with a history of the country and an introduction to its music, art, and architecture. Part 3 contains a listing and map of major Christian sites, and the rest of each book is devoted to alphabetical city-by-city listings of key attractions, primarily but not exclusively those with Christian connections. Sidebar-like boxes point out significant biographies and artifacts.

The need for these guides arose, according to the preface, because leading tour books (Frommer's, Fodors, and Rough guides) "tend to underplay the Christian contribution to Western Civilization through neglect or a negative tone." Such an approach does a disservice both to history and to Christians who wish to reconnect with their roots. Hexham and his co-contributors rediscover people and places of faith, both of which have been abundant in the four featured countries.

These guides won't replace the old standards, because they lack information on transportation routes, hotels, restaurants, and fees. But for Christian tourists who wish to know more about their destinations than which political leader slept there and where to find the trendiest boutiques, the books will be a valuable source of insight.

The Reverend Mark Matthews: An Activist in the Progressive Era

by Dale E. Soden (University ...

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