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Dr. Joe’s Book of the Month Club #49,Valentine Davies’ “Miracle on 34th Street”





December 6, 2017

Once again, it’s time for our Christmas book of the year. Some of you Christmasaholics no doubt already have your Christmas shelf. But just in case you do not, here are the selections we’ve already featured:


  • The Christmas Angel, by Abbie Farwell Brown – November 23, 2011
  •  The Christmas Carol, by Charles Dickens – November 23, 2011
  • Home for Christmas, by Lloyd C. Douglas, November 28, 2012
  • The Other Wise Man, by Henry Van Dyke, December 4, 2013
  • The Birds’ Christmas Carol, by Kate Douglas Wiggin, November 26, 2014
  • Christmas Day in the Morning, by Pearl Buck, December 2, 2015
  • The Man Who Found Christmas, by Walter Prichard Eaton, December 7, 2016

So now we come to our eighth selection.

Valentine Davies was born in August 1905, in New York City. After first studying at the University of Michigan and Yale, he became an actor. It was while serving in the Coast Guard during World War II that he became disillusioned with the commercialization of Christmas, and the idea for this film came to him. Unlike the normal sequence, the story became a movie first and a book second. Davies wrote in his “Author Note,” “Mr. Kringle’s personality and the chain reaction which it started originally took shape in my mind as a motion picture story. It was only after he had come to life on the screen that he was invited to appear within the covers of this book.”

Besides Miracle on 34th Street, Davies’ film credits include Chicken Every Sunday, It Happens Every Spring, The Bridges at Toko-Ri, The Benny Goodman Story, and The Glenn Miller Story. He also served as President of the Screen Actors Guild.

Derek Elley, in his Variety Movie Guild, of the 1947 20th Century Fox film, wrote, “So you don’t believe in Santa Claus? If you want to stay a non-believer, don’t see Miracle. Film is an actor’s holiday, providing any number of choice roles that are played to the hilt. Edmund Gwenn’s Santa Claus performance proves the best of his career…. Straight romantic roles handed Maureen O’Hara and John Payne as co-stars display the pair to advantage…. Gene Lockhart’s performance as judge is a gem, as is Porter Hall’s portrayal as a neurotic personnel director for Macy’s. Surprise moppet performance is turned in by little Natalie Wood as O’Hara’s non-believing daughter who finally accepts Santy. It’s a standout, natural portrayal. Gwenn won an Academy Award as Best Supporting Actor. Also starring was Thelma Ritter. The film was honored for Best Original Story and Screenplay. It was also nominated for Best Picture.

The 1994, 20th Century Fox re-filmed it with new actors. Richard Attenborough proved to be a superb Santa. Also starring were Elizabeth Perkins, Dylan McDermott, Mara Wilson, Robert Prosky, and J. T. Walsh. Producer John Hughes muddied the waters a bit by setting the story in the 1990s but doing way too little to contemporize the earlier screen treatment. The 1947 film remains the classic of the two.

* * * * *

By the way, Davies’ Harcourt, Brace and Company’s print text is a splendid read!

My advice to you is to read the book first–then see the 1947 movie. Not without reason was the movie dubbed “A Twentieth Century Christmas Carol.”

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Three Weeks in British Columbia #6 – Ucluelet and Pacific Rim National Park





November 29, 2017

From Chris Cheadle’s book, “Canada’s West Coast” (Victoria, Vancouver: Heritage House publishing, 2008)

Almost, we didn’t stop here–reason being, Tofino sucks up most of the hype. That would have been a big mistake!

Ucluelet is a small town of 1,650 people on the northern edge of Barkley Bay. But what we’d have missed most if we hadn’t driven off Highway 4 to see it, would be this particular section of Pacific Rim National Park (a most ambitious provincial project that eventually will stretch far down the island’s West Coast).

The first thing you see when you leave your car and head down the trail is a squat unlovely lighthouse whose foghorn mournfully complains every 20 or so seconds–being it was a foggy day. We had to laugh at the British Columbia Moon Handbook’s understated description of it: “The lighthouse here is not the world’s most photogenic, but it gets the job done–keeping ships from running ashore along this stretch of particularly treacherous coastline.”

Feeling the need to exercise after sitting so many hours in Byron’s Acura SUV, we decided to test what’s called the Wild Pacific Trail. We were on the undulating circular Wild Pacific Trail for several hours. The sitka spruces reminded me so much of the cypress trees on the Monterey and Carmel coasts of California. Had the sun been out, I’m sure the scenery would have been beyond spectacular. We had no idea this stretch of the Wild Pacific Trail could contain this much grandeur and crashing waves.

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Three Weeks in British Columbia #5 – Port Hardy





November 22, 2017

The Travelers

It’s time to pick up on our three-week exploration of British Columbia. We breakfasted in Port Hardy in the Lyons Café (we were about the only non-locals there–everyone else knew each other). Port Hardy, like Lund on the Sunshine Coast, is the end of the road. For those who wish to travel further north, BC ferries leave Port Hardy, on a regular basis, for their spectacular sixteen-hour cruise to Prince Rupert.

After gassing up, we headed back south on Highway 19 down the spine of Vancouver Island. The smoke from over 200 fires engulfing the province was at last beginning to thin out. Mountains towered up on both sides of the highway, but low visibility kept us from seeing the higher peaks. They get quite high; in fact, Victoria Peak is 7,484 feet high. The island range gets plenty of snow during winter months, but due to the prolonged dry period, we saw no snow ourselves.

We were disappointed by the sprawling town of Campbell River, as it was wrecked–at least for us–by strip-malls and unlovely development. Guess we’ll have to return another time, and perhaps we may find aspects we missed.

Highway 4 to the Pacific Coast is being discovered by the world. So much so that you jolly well better have lodging reservations made weeks ahead of time for the coast. In the summer, it seemed to us like a good share of B.C. residents had fled the mainland for Vancouver Island. But not just Canadians–there were visitors from around the world! Not too long ago, comparatively few travelers had even heard of Tofino at the end of Highway 4. And we wondered just what there was on the Pacific side of the island to make it such a tourist Mecca.

As we neared Port Alberni, we couldn’t help but notice hundreds of cars parked on both sides of the road. Unfortunately, we didn’t have time to join them. At the west end of Cameron Lake is Cathedral Grove, one of the last remaining easily accessible stands of old-growth forest remaining in British Columbia. The tallest trees are protected by MacMillan Provincial Park. Though the stand is small, it is precious to all those who treasure those few remaining stands of old growth not yet wiped out by the lumber industry barons. A 0.3 mile trail leads visitors into a majestic stand of 200-800-year-old Douglas firs that rise a “neck-straining” 230 feet from the forest floor.

Next week we’ll move on to what Canadians call “The West Coast.”


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“Abraham Lincoln Civil War Stories’ now in paperback





November 15, 2017

Since second editions rarely happen, this one means a great deal to us. Permit me to share with you why Howard/Simon & Schuster asked if I’d be willing to help create a Second Edition.

(1)      The original dust-jacketed hardback came out in 2013, during the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Though it contained many stories set prior to the war and reflective ones after the war, we still, by its title, emphasized on the cover only the stories set during the war itself.

But now, four years later, the time was ripe for coming out with a new edition touting the fact that many of the stories were not set during the war. But changing the title might result in buyer confusion. We certainly didn’t want those who already had the 2013 book to mistakenly assume this was a totally new collection of stories, so we stayed with the original title–but still made a number of changes.

(2)      First of all, the publisher felt that so many seismic changes had taken place since 2013–changes in our nation and the world, especially in the polarization of our own people and in the coarsening of our public rhetoric, that it might be informative for me to write a new introduction to the collection, this one having to do with Lincoln’s timelessness, why he means more today than he ever did against the limited backdrop of the war itself.

(3)      Then there is the new section of Lincoln stories that are for, or about, small children. We call them “storiettes” because they tend to be shorter than the ones included in the First Edition. These really short stories are just as significant as are longer ones, especially where small children are concerned, given their short attention-spans.

(4)      All these were added to the original text; nothing was left out.

(5)      The much-loved Nathan Greene painting of Lincoln in a tent at Antietam (the bloodiest single-day battle of the war) was retained, but the base color was changed from gold to a striking shade of red–considerably more dramatic!

(6)      And, it was felt it would be good to bind the Second Edition as trade paper rather than hardback, thus reducing the price from $23.99 to $15.99. This way more people can afford to give them away as stocking-stuffers this Christmas. It is an especially important book to give to young people who are searching for real heroes rather than pseudo ones.

We already have a fine stock available. No tax outside of Colorado, 5% inside. Shipping is $6.00.

You can find this book, and many more, on our web site: Place your order there–or you can send us an email at Or you can write to us at P.O. Box 1246, Conifer, CO 80433. Or give us a call at 303-838-2333 to place your order.

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The Ultimate Christmas Gift of 2017





November 8, 2017

Everywhere I go, I see shoppers almost frantically searching for what they consider almost impossible: the perfect gift for the Christmasaholic (on one’s stocking list) who already has EVERYTHING! And it never ceases to amaze me how many people there are out there who think, decorate, sing, and read Christmas year-round. They are the happiest people you will find anywhere! In fact, it’s surprising to discover so many who read the Christmas in My Heart® books year-round (and when they’ve cycled through all of them, next week they start back on Book 1 and begin the cycle all over again).


The miracle is–in this age of jerking new books out of print almost as soon as they come into print–that for 26 years now (more than a quarter century), the entire series has somehow remained in print. In spite of the original publisher’s closing its doors! And the miracle? Pacific Press picking up where Review & Herald left off (Christmas in My Heart16), and continuing the series. Not only that, but also keeping all of the first 16 in print so that individuals such as you can still purchase the entire set on the cheap).

And, as many of you know, Christmas in My Heart® [Gold Medallion finalist] is now the longest-running Christmas story series in the United States and Canada.

I’ve never felt the series to be my own–but rather it is God’s. Again and again and again, when for one reason or another, it appeared clear that the Series had reached its terminus, God has stepped in to keep it alive.

And now over a million of our Christmas books have been sold, untold thousands of them in the U.S. and Canada–and many of them overseas as well–who call themselves “completists, own them all. And, of course, perish the thought that any of them would miss picking up the newest addition! Furthermore, each of these “completists” feel they own us. “You must NEVER die!” they tell me. “How could I possibly face another Christmas without a new collection?”


It has been a long time coming: For thirteen years Review & Herald stayed with its original price of $10.99; it raised the price to $11.99, and stayed there for three years; then it raised the price to $13.99 and stayed there for seven years; and for three years now the price has been $14.99. But reprinting a book that’s 10, 15, or 20 years old and having to sell them at the original price is not cost-effective at all. Consequently, Pacific Press, recognizing that if they are to continue to keep all the books in print, has finally done what it had to do: they have raised the price of the first 23 books to $13.99 each, and books 24, 25, and 26 are pegged at $14.99. Since we have had to pay for major recent purchases of the entire series at this new price, we are forced to change our prices accordingly.


As many of you know, when Christmas in My Heart® turned a quarter century old, Pacific Press celebrated by creating and printing 300 boxed sets (it cost them $20,000 just to print those boxes!). They are indeed beautiful.

In spite of all these price changes, we can still offer a 30% discount! The total retail price for a set (and shipping books to us) is $386.71. But we can offer the complete set to you for $269.50 (a 30% discount), plus shipping of course. This price will be good until Thursday, December 21. Our offices will be closed for the Christmas holiday, and won’t reopen until January 13 of 2018. After that, the set will be available at $289.00, plus shipping.

And, if so requested, I can inscribe the entire set (it takes me at least two hours to inscribe a full set now) at no additional cost to you.

If you wish to secure one of those ultra rare boxed-sets of 25, let us know and we’ll check to see if there are any left—and we’ll let you know what it will set you back. But I wouldn’t be able to inscribe a boxed set, as they are sealed.

You can find all of these books, and many more, on our web site: Place your order there — or you can send us an email at

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Catherine Marshall’s “A Man Called Peter”





November 1, 2017

Of our 70 previous book selections, eight have been biographical:

Laurence Bargreen’s Over the Edge of the World

     Richard Henry Dana’s Two Years Before the Mast

     Frank and Ernestine Gilbreth’s Cheaper By the Dozen

     Ralph Moody’s Little Britches

     Slavomir Rawicz’s The Long Walk

     P. R. Reid’s The Colditz Story

     Thoreau’s Walden

     David Wyss’s The Swiss Family Robinson

It’s time for our ninth.

How well I remember the one-two punch of Catherine Marshall’s biography of her minister husband’s life: A Man Called Peter (1951), followed by the profoundly emotive movie in 1955. This 20th Century Fox film featured a stellar cast, including Richard Todd, Jean Peters, Marjorie Rambeau, Jill Esmond, Lee Tremayne, and Robert Burton. It was directed by Henry Koster. It was nominated for a Best Color Cinematography Academy Award.

At the time the book and film came out I was of an age where I was seeking values to live by, thus the book so deeply moved me that it has been a significant part of me ever since.

Marshall, a native of Scotland, emigrated to the U.S. in 1927, literally destitute. But what a meteoric rise he had! Pastoring churches such as Atlanta’s Westminster Presbyterian Church and Washington, D.C.’s prestigious New York Avenue Presbyterian Church (the Church of the Presidents, including Lincoln), and finally his last ministry: Chaplain of the United States Senate.

But it was not for the prestigious pulpits that we remember him today, but for the love story with his wife and biographer. But other reasons are recounted in a McGraw-Hill dust jacket:

It is a record of love and faith that has few equals in real life and is a book which brings alive the magnificent sincerity with which Dr. Marshall brought God into the affairs of men. No intellectualized theologian, Peter Marshall was a dynamic individual who drew many of his ideas for prayers and sermons from his own life and experiences. His approach to life was broad and the enthusiasm that characterized his approach to religion was equally strong in his enjoyment of football and baseball; his irrepressible good humor cropped up as often in his sermons as it did in his vigorous participation in games of all kinds.A collection of his sermons and prayers titled Mr. Jones, Meet the Master was on the best-seller lists continuously for several years. Scenes you will never be able to forget: his providentially falling on the edge of an abyss in fog so thick one more step would have meant death; a church sermon in which Catherine was so love-struck she walked out of the sanctuary, her heels clicking with every step, and Peter staring at her almost in a trance, unable to speak until she passed out of sight; that unforgettable cruise to Scotland, and his introducing his bride to his birth-country; the way youth followed him as though he were himself the Pied Piper; Catherine’s years in bed fighting tuberculosis and the beginning of her personal relationship with her Lord—and so much more. And Peter Marshall’s way too short life, dying at the peak of his career of a heart attack—he was only 46!

This much I can promise you: when you complete the book, you will not be the same person you were when you started.

And if you know of a young person who is searching for answers, for values, for a spiritual mentor, gift that person with a copy of this one-of-a-kind-book.

Do let me know what you think of it.


Continue reading Catherine Marshall’s “A Man Called Peter”