Before the Lease Runs Out: Summer Reading List for 2018 – Albert Mohler

It may seem late in the summer already, but if we go by the official calendar, we have two-thirds of this wonderful season to go yet. With that in mind, though Dr. Al Mohler’s summer reading list may seem to have arrived late, there is still plenty of time to pick one or two from his great list (heavy on history – yes!) and enjoy a good read.

Released on July 11, Mohler’s list of ten books contains stories of significant events from a wide spectrum of history. I pick out just two of them that stand out to me, along with parts of his description. For the entire list, visit the link below.

4. Donald Rumsfeld, When the Center Held: Gerald Ford and the Rescue of the American Presidency (Free Press).

The American political crisis of 1972-1974 is virtually unparalleled in the nation’s history–and for that we must be thankful. For most citizens today, the Watergate crisis and the fall of the Nixon presidency are distant memories, if remembered at all. One of the most neglected figures, unexpectedly central to this story, was Gerald Ford, the 38th President of the United States. Ford became Vice President of the United States in 1973 and President in 1974, without being elected to either office. Then, against all odds, he came close to being elected president in his own right in 1976. Rumsfeld, who was himself central to the story, gives us a front-row seat at one of the turning points in American history. More than anything else, Rumsfeld wants us to understand that Gerald Ford, who never wanted to be president until he unexpectedly was president, rescued the American presidency by his personal decency and calm. As a teenage political volunteer I worked for Ronald Reagan and against President Ford in the 1976 campaign for the Republican nomination. After Ford secured the nomination, I joined his campaign as a volunteer, mostly manning a phone bank. After the campaign of Reagan, fueled by ideas, the campaign of Gerald Ford was a let-down for me. But Donald Rumsfeld’s book reminds all of us of why we should be thankful that, when he had to choose the man who would shortly succeed him, Richard Nixon called Gerald Ford.

6. Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, Indianapolis: The True Story of the Worst Sea Disaster in U.S. Naval History and the Fifty-Year Fight to Exonerate an Innocent Man (Simon and Schuster).

It tells us a great deal about the power of popular culture that most Americans probably learned of the sinking of the USS Indianapolis from Bartholomew Marion Quint, the hardened shark hunter of the movie “Jaws.” In the midst of their own epic shark hunt, Quint told the crew from Amity about the sinking, when 900 men went into the waters, and only 316 survived. In his telling, most of the men in the water were eaten by sharks.

There is truth in that account, but the real story of  the Indianapolis and its fate is a bigger story that “Jaws” could tell. The Portland-class heavy cruiser, once flag ship for Admiral Raymond Spruance and ship of state for President Franklin Roosevelt, was one of the most beautiful large ships in the Navy. She had suffered a devastating kamikaze attack and had just been repaired when she was sent on a secret mission to deliver the first atomic bomb to Tinian Island. Returning to port, the Indianapolis was sunk by a Japanese submarine attack. Of the almost 1,200 sailors on the ship, about 300 went down with the vessel. The 900 others went into the Pacific. They were in the middle of the vast ocean and no one would miss them for days. Miraculously spotted by a Navy plane after days at sea, only 316 men survived. The sinking of the Indianapolis remains the greatest sea disaster ever experienced by the U.S. Navy. The sharks did attack and the story is like a horror movie, but the rescue of the 316 did not end the story. The ship’s commander, Captain Charles B. McVay, was convicted in a Navy court-martial of dereliction of duty, but the court-martial proceeding was controversial from the start, and even Fleet Admiral Chester Nimitz, Commander in Chief of the Pacific Ocean Areas, did not believe Captain McVay should be blamed. The burden for the convicted officer was too much to bear, and he committed suicide years later, with a toy sailor in his hand.

And yet, amazingly enough, the story does not end even there. Fast forward to 1999 and the school project undertaken by a determined 13-year-old boy named Hunter Scott. The boy in Florida had heard about the Indianapolis when he watched “Jaws” with his father. As a sixth-grader he started a school project on the Indianapolis and would write to the survivors of the sinking. Eventually he came to believe that Captain McVay had been wrongly blamed. He got finally got the attention of political leaders in Washington. Then, as an eighth-grader, he, along with others, would testify before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee. Captain McVay would eventually be exonerated.

This new book by Lynn Vincent and Sara Vladic, released only on July 10, is a good example of how a story can be set straight. In this case, and in this book, we confront a big story that badly needed setting straight.

Source: Before the Lease Runs Out: Summer Reading List for 2018 –

Published in: on July 23, 2018 at 10:19 PM  Leave a Comment