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Rafael Sabatini’s “The Romantic Prince”

BLOG #10, SERIES #9

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

DR. JOE’S BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB #75

RAFAEL SABATINI’S THE ROMANTIC PRINCE

March 7, 2018

It’s now time for our 75th book selection, and a good time to revisit another his book penned by one of my favorite historical romance writers. We first introduced him four years ago, on February 26 of 2014: Sabatini’s famed historical romance set during the French Revolution—Scaramouche. For some time now, as I weigh in on books that fight for inclusion in this series, Sabatini keeps surfacing in my mind. Perhaps because he wrote far more than romantic swashbucklers. He was, at heart, a moralist who tried to make sense of the historical past against the moralistic background of Christianity.

His novels were the result of prodigious research into the archival accounts housed in European nations of his time. A complete list of his 36 novels can be found in that 2014 blog. Of them all, I have found Scaramouche and The Romantic Prince to be his two most unforgettable novels (never sinking below the surface of my mind).

But, even though I’d read the book before, I re-read it before concluding it had to be included in our series. It features a theme Sabatini touched upon in Scaramouche: mankind’s tendency to play God—rather than waiting for God to punish evil-doers for their sins, in His own time—, they bull-headedly usurp God’s justice by stepping in ahead of God.

The Bible includes plenty of examples of passion and its results, perhaps most famously having to do with King David’s murdering Uriah the Hittite (the husband of the beautiful Bathsheba) in order to gain possession of her.

In this particular novel, Sabatini digs deep into human nature as he creates a marvelous cast of characters (some known to history and others created in the author’s fertile imagination).

The typical writer of historical fiction tends to glamorize and romanticize the past, especially royalty and nobility, but not so Sabatini. He writes relatively unvarnished history, confirming that, down through history, men and women married—or were forced to marry—for dynastic reasons. If they wanted romantic love, they got that illicitly, outside of marriage. As late as Prince Charles’ ill-fated marriage to Diana, we can see that template still being played out in our time.

In the book, County Anthony d’Egmont, heir to the dukedom of Guelph, ruefully discovers that there is no way for him to marry the love of his life, the beautiful Johanna, daughter of a Flemish merchant. Not if he wanted to inherit the ducal throne of Guelph. It is one whale of a book, intersticed with many quotable lines and insights into life.

Rafael Sabatini’s life (1875-1950) was almost as eventful as his action-packed novels. He was born in the then small town of Jesi, near the Italian seaport of Ancoma. His parents were well-known opera singers who traveled the world. His mother was English, hence his dual heritage.

This is yet another book I strongly feel you’ll find unforgettable and thought-provoking. You can secure copies on the web both in hardback (Houghton Mifflin, and Grosset & Dunlap) and in trade paper.

 

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Stop Whatever You Are Doing—And Remember

BLOG #9, SERIES #9

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

STOP WHATEVER YOU ARE DOING—AND REMEMBER

February 28, 2018

BLESSED AMONG AMERICAN WOMEN IS THE YOUNG MOTHER * WHO IN A ROUGH CABIN ON THE KENTUCKY FRONTIER BORE A SON WHOM SHE CALLED ABRAHAM * * GROWN TO MANHOOD THAT SON BECAME THE LEADER OF HIS PEOPLE IN THE CRISIS OF THEIR FATE * AND JUSTIFIED DEMOCRACY IN THE FACE OF A DOUBTING WORLD

Never in a lifetime of studying Lincoln, and researching my two books about Lincoln, have I stumbled on a magazine cover that moved me as much as this one. Discovered it in the June 1923 issue of one of the greatest family magazines ever published in our nation, The Youth’s Companion.

Nancy Hanks Lincoln, what a tragically short life she had! Yet, given that half of what we learn in life is learned by the age of six, she it was who set the boy’s sails in life. And, as famed artist William Eaton portrays her in this powerfully emotive painting, one can’t help but wonder what her thoughts might have been when she looked down at the tiny face of her baby.

I’d guess she never imagined what he’d become: what he’d become is what I experienced just one week ago when I met with third-graders in six public elementary schools here in the Colorado Rockies. At each school, I asked them this question: “There is one President who is loved more than all our other Presidents put together—who is it?” Without exception, they all shouted out, “Abraham Lincoln!”

Now, 209 years after his birth—that’s immortality.

 

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GREETINGS FROM THE CRUCIBLE

BLOG #8, SERIES #9

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

GREETINGS FROM THE CRUCIBLE

February 21, 2018

Connie and I often say about our ministry of stories and books:

“We work hard, and we play hard.”

Currently, we are working hard: the manuscript for Christmas in My Heart 27 is in its final stages: illustrations and copyright permissions; and the manuscript for My Favorite Integrity Stories is midway, as it’s due April 1. Our 100th and 101st books—a continuing miracle from the Lord.

When Contemporary Authors editors wrote about me some years ago, they dubbed me a “story archeologist,” someone who is struggling to save priceless story artifacts before they crumble out of existence forever.

As we work on these, our 84th and 85th story anthologies, we often feel as if we are somehow outside of contemporary time. I certainly feel that way now, surrounded as I am by century-old magazines (both loose and bound) that are full of names the average person would pass over without even a flicker of recognition. But not so for us: As I turn a page in an old bound-volume of Youth’s Companion stories I stop with a smile of recognition: “Aha! Here’s a story by _____ I’ve never heard of before.” It might be penned by any number of authors those who love our books would fondly recognize because by now they’ve come to love them, too.

Three great magazines hold central stage in our archives: St. Nicholas, Youth’s Companion, and Youth’s Instructor. St. Nicholas was born in 1872 and died in 1939; Youth’s Companion, born in 1827, lasted over a hundred years; Youth’s Instructor was born in 1852, and also lasted over a hundred years. St. Nicholas was a monthly, the other two came out once every week. Of course, these three magazines are merely the highest peaks of our archives; many, many other great magazines also grace our archives.

All three were windows to the world for children and teenagers who lived in a world ruled over by print (books and magazines) rather than omnipresent, intrusive in-your-face electronics such as is true today. A complete run of St. Nicholas adds up to over 72,000 pages; a complete run of Youth’s Companion appears almost impossible to ever put together; same for Youth’s Instructor.

We mine these Golden Age (1850’s through 1950’s) magazines because they celebrated the values so many families are desperately searching for today. Mostly in vain. Reason being: Today, Judeo-Christian families, more and more, feel abandoned by a society that devalues them as it continues to distance itself from the values that once made America great.

So here we are. I’ve been putting in 12 to 14-hour days, searching for stories that could change the life-course of a child, a teen, an adult, years from now–even, perhaps centuries from now, if time should last that long.

For we too, Connie and I, are racing against the clock–determined to wear out rather than rust out, as long as God grants us time, strength, health and awareness.

Pray for us.

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NEW RELEASE – “MY FAVORITE COURAGE STORIES”

BLOG #7, SERIES #9

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

NEW RELEASE

MY FAVORITE COURAGE STORIES

February 14, 2018

Yes, it is now out: our 99th book and 83rd story anthology. During the last five years, this series has been gathered to the heart by both the regular buyers of our books and those who are searching for true stories to use for church, Sunday schools, schools, and home ministries—stories for all age groups.

Our new collection follows on the heels of Angel, Miracle, Prayer, and Life-Changing Stories. Courage will be followed by Integrity Stories.

Many parents, grandparents, aunts, and uncles, are gifting family members with these books.

All five sport cover art by Marcus Mashburn. You will discover that each cover illustration can be traced back to an incident in one of the stories in the collection. This particular cover painting depicts the hero of the Academy Award-winning movie, Hacksaw Ridge, Medal of Honor winner Desmond Doss.

Many of these stories are biographical shorts preserved for us by famed editor Lora E. Clement.

Here are the stories you will find in the collection:

“On His Own Two Feet” – Grace Perkins Oursler“Hearts Unafraid” – Hildegarde Thorup

“Rustler Tess” – Aline Havard

“We Had Lost Everything” – Lora E. Clement

“Philip and the Cows” – Mrs. R. B. Sheffer

“Anna of the Wilderness” – Richard Morenus

“Scraps” –Marjorie Baker

“Courage Rather Than Hatred” – Lora E. Clement

“The Madness of Anthony Wayne” – Rupert Sargent Holland

“Five Days With Dolly Madison” – Elinor E. Pollard

“Thomas Nast and the Tammany Tiger” –Lora E. Clement

“Fo’c’sle and Wigwam” – Henry Morton Robinson

“War on Yellow Fiver” – Ruth Fox

“158 Spruce Street” – Lora E. Clement

“A Sheet of White Paper” – Author Unknown

“Beautiful Upon the Mountains” –Arthur A. Milward

“Take Me, Take Me” – Lora E. Clement

“Silhouettes of Courage” – Agnes Kendrick Gray

“A Question of Courage” – Ethel Comstock Bridgman

“God Keep Him Alive!” – Carr P. Collins

“Greater Love Hath No Woman” – Louisa Stinetorf and Lora E. Clement

“Jane Amsden’s Hospital” – Author Unknown

“Did—I—Do—My—Best?” – Lora E. Clement

“Hero of Pleasant Hill” – F. A. Boygess

“An Incredible Act of Courage” – Author Unknown

“The Hero of Hacksaw Ridge” – Joseph Leininger Wheeler with Booton Herndon

 

* * * * *

Retail $15.99; our price is $12.00. Personally inscribed if so requested.

Set of all five in the series (Angel, Miracle, Prayer, Life-Changing, Courage).

Retail: $79.95; sale for the set: $60.00 – plus shipping.

Order from our web page: www.JoeWheelerBooks.com

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Ron Hall and Denver Moore’s “The Same Kind of Different as Me”

BLOG #6, SERIES #9

WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE

DR. JOE’S BOOK OF THE MONTH CLUB #74

RON HALL AND DENVER MOORE’S SAME KIND OF DIFFERENT AS ME

February 7, 2018

First of all, the book’s appearance in our house remains a mystery. One day it was there, the next day it was not. No one has even admitted planting it here.

The mysterious book remained unread for over a year. Finally, curiosity got the better of me–and I picked it up, idly scanning the first few pages. Didn’t take long before I was hooked: This was a book unlike any other book I’d read in my entire lifetime! But even when I’d finished the book, I still wasn’t certain it was for real: In a world awash in hoaxes, fake news, virtual reality, and scams of all kinds, I remained unconvinced.

Finally, while visiting us, our son Greg spied the book on a table, and pounced on it, saying, “There’s a lot of buzz out there about this book–can I borrow it?” So the book walked away with him.

Later, he raved about it: “Dad, that was some read!”

Several years later, Greg purchased the Paramount movie edition of the book and bequeathed it to me rather than surrender the loaned original.

SIGNIFICANCE OF THE BOOK

For starters, I found it to be a deeply disturbing book, mainly because the protagonists (all actual people) did something mighty few of us professed Christians would ever do ourselves: “Adopt” a homeless Negro street person with a criminal past, invite him into their home and circle of affluent friends–as an EQUAL! Of course, Christ, while on earth, urged people to do just that–but certainly He couldn’t expect Christians of today to do such a thing! As a result, the book and movie portray concepts of selflessness few of us would want to even try in real life.

Apparently, most reviewers feel the book is considerably more powerful than the movie: reason being, only a few of the many riveting scenes in the book were incorporated into the movie. Which is not surprising since virtually all movie portrayals are weaker because time-constraints make it all but impossible to fully replicate all that appears in printed texts.

On the back cover of this new Thomas Nelson edition, we learn more about this 2006 book that has done nothing but gain steam during the last eleven years.

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A dangerous, homeless drifter who grew up picking cotton in virtual slavery.

An upscale art dealer accustomed to the world of Armani and Chanel.

A gutsy woman with a stubborn dream.

A story so incredible no novelist would dare dream it.

* * * * *

“I’m honored to share in Debbie’s story and to be part of this beautiful effort to perpetuate the legacy of her work.”

–Renée Zellweger, Actress”It’s a rare opportunity for an actor to be blessed with a role so soulful. To embody Denver’s spirit was at once an emotional challenge and an extreme privilege, learning the story of a man who came from so little and gave so much. The givers truly are the gate-openers for the world.”

–Djimon Hounsou, Actor”Homelessness is epidemic and anyone who fights the battle to help correct the problem deserves our respect and admiration.”

–Greg Kinnear, Actor

* * * * *

The book concludes with these words spoken by Denver Moore, the homeless illiterate drifter who ruled the gang-ridden city streets:

“Even though I’m almost seventy years old, I got a lot to learn too. I used to spend a lotta time worryin that I was different from other people, even from other homeless folks. Then, after I met Miss Debbie and Mr. Ron, I worried that I was so different from them that we wadn’t ever gon’ have no kimnd a’ future. But I found out everybody’s different–the same kind of different as me. We’re all just regular folks walkin down the road God done set in front of us.

The truth about it is, whether we is rich or poor or somethin in between, this earth ain’t no final restin place. So in a way, we is all homeless–just workin our way toward home.”

* * * * *

So hurry to the nearest bookstore and pick up a copy of this life-changing book. You’ll never be able to forget it, or face a homeless person on the street in the same way you did before.

 

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Three Weeks in British Columbia #12, The Last Ferry, Au Revoir Canada, and My Favorite Photographer

BLOG #5, SERIES #9
WEDNESDAYS WITH DR. JOE
THREE WEEKS IN BRITISH COLUMBIA #12
THE LAST FERRY, AU REVOIR CANADA,
AND MY FAVORITE PHOTOGRAPHER
January 31, 2018

All too soon it was time for us to leave this land and people we’d come to love. Intriguing how someone living just a few feet away from the U.S. Border (more of an abstraction than an actual obstruction) can be so much like us yet still so different from us.

In all our lives, this was the longest visit to Canada we’d ever experienced. Of course we bragged on our half-Canadian grandsons and son-in-law Duane, whose falling in love with our daughter made all this possible. We know we’ll be back–there’s so much more to see!

After making one last stop at one of Canada’s ubiquitous Horton’s (mouth-watering coffee and sinfully fattening doughnuts), we purchased a pound of their coffee so that we might periodically drink a cup for old times’ sake.

 

Then we boarded one of the biggest ferries yet—and watched Vancouver Island gradually recede from view.

By my side, as has been true for the last 58 years, was Connie, my still lovely bride—and, serendipitously, the photographer who has visually fleshed out the abstractions I wrote about in this B.C. blog series.

Oh my! The Washington state shore is just ahead, and the U.S.A. We’re happy to see it coming—but when we look back, there’s moisture in our eyes.

The Travelers Four