Book Reviews

About "Josiah volunteered" --

" ...Every now and again, a privately published volume crosses our desk which deserves more than passing notice.  Such a book is Josiah Volunteered...everything from songs and poetry to a catalog of patent medicines in the family pharmacopoeia... a tribute to the editor's ancestors and an important record of rather uncommon common people who during more than half a century lived on the fringes of history."

(Down East Bookshelf)

"A fascinating book about a Maine man of the nineteenth century and his enterprising family ... a significant contribution to Maine history. Its value is enhanced by explanatory notes and expansive appendix of genealogical and historical records. We have many books about Maine’s great figures of the Civil War. It is time we had one about an ordinary soldier, who left wife and small child to answer the call...” 
(Ernest C. Marriner, Historian, Colby College)

  "I am overwhelmed--what an opus!  Valuable…beautifully edited and produced.  The photographs and drawings are very fine."
(James B. Vickery, Educator, Historian, Collector)

"...delightful...fascinating...romantic...the reader is caught up in the joys, tragedies and loves of the family and is, perhaps, awed by the influence of the church in their personal an experience that the reader is often carried back to the 1800s with great feeling for what he or she is reading."
(Lewiston Evening Journal, Magazine Section)

What Readers SayAbout Our Books --

"Reading this vast compendium is like wandering through a personal museum...fascinating displays and curious artifacts...though the Civil War was raging, the cows had to be milked.  The Sturtevants were rather ordinary people...but that's what makes the book also extraordinary for historical reasons.  This is how typical Maine people lived from the 1860's into the beginning of the 20th century...invaluable as a source book of that time in Maine and in our national history." (Maine Life)

"More than anything else I've read, it helps to make comprehensible the Victorian sentimentality about death, and the real strength and courage that underlay it." (American Heritage)

"...their story may be of extraordinary importance.  They are probably typical of the many Maine people who have managed to live beneath the level of historical scrutiny, even though their contributions to history and their reactions to it provide significant examples of the 'American Story' as seen by those who lived it and viewed it on a day-to-day personal level." (Ronald Kley, Head, Research and Collections, Maine State Museum)

"...skillful compilation of letters, diaries and photographs...brings us into intimate touch with the life and times of a Maine family...(The) editor never intrudes.  His connectives simply illuminate and clarify...readers who are sensitive to the values of those who have gone before will be pleased.  A book to treasure, a true and poignant American Story." (Maine History News)

"A Maine family truly speaks to us across the years.  A treasure and a joy."

(Dorris A. Isaacson, President, The Maine League of Historical Societies and Museums)

About "Home-Nest Chronicles" --

“A veritable wealth of history and spirit. The adventurous saga and spiritual journey of a true American family. Any accurate rendering of human history must include not only the facts of the events themselves as they transpired, but also an account of  the spiritual steps and sovereign hand that shaped them. A memorable keepsake for every lover of history.” (Pastor Russell C. Cotnoir, Jr., “First Light” radio ministry, Fayette, Maine)

“... intriguing ... love of history made (their books) particularly meaningful to me!  I was also encouraged to learn of (the authors’) desire to use (their work) to counter efforts of revisionists in secular school settings -- as well as to introduce others to our faith.” (Dr. James C. Dobson, President, Focus on the Family)

“ .. we sat up late reading ... what a rich treasure! - not only the history, but the Godly principles Josiah & Helen used for daily living & raising their family.” (C. & P. Brandt, Knoxville, TN)

  “... excellent stories .. I had no knowledge at all of how the Indians were deliberately and consistently massacred there in the New England area.  It is terrifying to think that human nature is as it is, and if released can bring about such horror and misery.” (Kenneth Taylor, Chairman, Tyndale House Publishers)

“wonderful!...(the) writing is so beautiful ... the trials of the Micmacs adds historical insight and indicates the amount of research ... so much more interesting than the usual listing of names and dates.  Had to be God directed!” (J. Jones, Los Alamitos, California)

“... very interesting from the historical point of view ... but it is the Providential aspects bringing events together in the writers’ family that interests me the most.” (Harold Duff, Bible teacher/educator/conference Speaker, President of Christian Ministries, Inc.)

”fascinating  ... the work and love put into this book is evident .. it has been placed on our (lobby display) shelves so that our members and visitors may have (ready) access to it.” (Librarian, General Society of Mayflower Descendants, Plymouth, MA)

“so much material, it is amazing!  ... so beautifully done & the pictures are so outstanding, so special!” (B. Whitehouse, Sonora, CA)

“(the authors’) words paint a vivid picture” (N. Wakefield, No. Livermore, ME)

“Incredible! ... (The authors’) emphasis on sharing (family history) in order to share the Lord will be well received now and in the future.” (K. Corbitt, Memphis, TN)

“..masterfully written ..wonderful addition to (church library).  I praise the Lord for the authors.” (Rev. Stuart Hilton, So. Gardiner Baptist Church, ME)

“Home-Nest Chronicles is such a delightful family history, but makes a good read for the general public ...the story brings history to life.” (V. Gagne, Director, Free Public Library)

“... beautifully written and produced ...wonderful chronicle of  Maine family history.” (Maine historian)

“I’ve never been a particularly religious person ... (but, the book’s stories) help one to realize that God is watching over us ... (it has ) given me inspiration.  A wonderful book.  I will always cherish it.” (grateful reader - G,W., Auburn, ME)

“Marvelous!  Can’t wait to finish it, tonight!  Then I’ll read it over again!” (D. P., Moncton, NB)

“A great addition to our Archives” (Archivist, Annapolis Valley Historical Society, NS, CA)

“There is sufficient material in this book to make it great.  However, I think less emphasis on the religious aspect might make it more interesting to the general public” (Trustee, Maine Public Library)

“I was thrilled to see the information found by the authors .. they were able to open new doors so we all might learn about the Native people, the French, and the English trying to live together.  I am amazed at the strong religious feelings uncovered.  It brought memories of my childhood and how feelings have changed.” (Patricia Hart, age 90, librarian/educator, Ontario, Canada)

About "Beckets & HInges" --

Maine historian adds to ancestors' work
Review by Dale Hill for The Franklin Group, Sun Media affiliate

The new nautical history, "Beckets arid Hinges," is more accessible by its subtitle, "Sea Tales of Old North Yarmouth, Maine." Once you know what's going on, you're much more likely to enjoy this large and profusely-¬illustrated volume that details the adventures of a New England mariner, and, more' surprisingly, his wife.

The career of Charles Chandler Oakes, a Yankee cap¬tain, spanned the eras of the square-rigged clippers and the trans-oceanic steamships. His memoirs and those of his wife, Abbie, make, for reading that is as exciting as it is fascinating.
This is in fact a new edition of an 80-year-old book. Yarmouth-¬born-and-bred Charles Oakes and Abbie Buxton were married in 1888 and embarked on a nau¬tica1life together. In 1932 the two seasoned mariners published "The Old Sea Chest," a collec¬tion of their personal journals and sea stories.  .

The book came down through collateral family connections to Arnold Sturtevant of Fayette, who has been instrumental in preserving and publishing the centuries-long history of his extended family in Maine. Sturtevant as editor aids the reader by supplying footnotes that explain some of the more obscure archaic nautical terms, and pinpoint locations that were better known in the days of sail. In his introduction, he also explains "beckets" (or sea chest handles), fashioning from them an extended metaphor for passing down tales and traditions.

The editor's generous choice of period photographs illustrates the narratives admirably, and easily overcomes the impression of his own few embarrassingly amateurish line drawings.

Abbie Oakes writes in absorb¬ing detail of three voyages: her first, in 1890, to Shanghai; and the second to the coast of Chile, requiring two passages around deadly Cape Hom. Abbie's third account, of a voyage to Java and the Philippines, involves tense moments on the eve of the Spanish-American War.

The Oakes's ship, the P.N. Blanchard, anchored at Manila Harbor just as word arrived of the destruction of the USS Maine at Havana. They witnessed daily executions on shore as they loaded cargo and exited the harbor discretely as Admiral Dewey's Pacific Fleet was steam¬ing its way across the China Sea from Hong Kong.

Captain Charles Oakes takes us, in anecdotal form, from a pirate hide-out near Guantanamo in Cuba, to Panama, where he delivered machines and men for the con¬struction of the Canal. On another tack, Oakes and his ship were just far enough away from Halifax, Nova' Scotia in December of 1917 to witness, but not be blown to bits by, the  explosion of the munitions ship Mont-Blanc, still accounted the largest non-nuclear blast in history. 

For his last entry Captain Oakes returns to the days of sail, to recount the harrowing wreck of the Yarmouth windjammer S. C. Blanchard in a horrendous South Atlantic storm; a true tale, as hair-raising as anything you might read in the fictions of Patrick O'Brian.

Arn Sturtevant has added appendices that include some chapters of his own, which provide rewarding information about Yarmouth's connection to the Spanish-American War, the missionary work of the town's seafarers, and clues to a treacherous murder at sea.

Sturtevant's final entry details Charles Oakes's transition from windjammer captain to Marine Superintendent of the Ward Line's steamship fleet. Abbie's passports reveal that she continued to accompany her husband to exotic ports around the world into the Roaring Twenties.   :

[Next review by Apple Valley Books, Winthrop, Maine]
“In 1932, Captain and Mrs. Oakes published their collection of stories and accounts of some of their adventures from a career of merchant sailing. The first section presents Abbie’s recounting of three voyages under sail, from Yarmouth around Cape Horn as far as Valparaiso, and around the Cape of Good Hope to the Spice Islands and as far as Shanghai. Footnotes are helpful, and Abbie presents a fascinating picture of life at sea, as experienced by a Captain’s wife. Following these recollections, Captain Charles, “the old man,” adds a number of anecdotes, wrecks and other adventures encountered. His career spanned the period when sail gave way to steam, and his direct knowledge of both make for fascinating reading. Among other lessons, I now know what beckets are, for example! This reprint, with added introduction, foot notes, and several appendices, is a wonderful addition to the library of anyone who has an interest in coastal Maine, or in our rich sailing history.” (June 2, 2010 book review by: Apple Valley Books, 121 Main Street, Winthrop, ME 04364 telephone 207-377-3967)

“It is such a handsome publication for its interesting content, clean design and fascinating illustrations.”
(Maine historian)

“This is a great book. It is nice to know we have (an author) who can actually create something that combines intellectual, aesthetic and religious meanings. We who read have a special debt to those who write … similar to music performers (being indebted) to those who compose.”
(Waterville MD (avid reader and jazz trombonist)

“We have enjoyed reading (the author’s) books … (he) continues to amaze … now we learn (he) draws as well as writes and edits. Whew! Great talent!”
(Representative, Maine State Legislature)

“It is great to see (Beckets & Hinges) republished, and I was thrilled to see the original, wonderful volume enhanced with photographs and illustrations from (the authors’) family.” (historical society director)

About Come With Me From Lebanon

The major strength of this book lies in the historical time line and the clear portrayal of God’s redemptive plan for Israel. The coupling of both the prophetic biblical record and documented historical facts as traced for Israel paints a clear picture of God’s sovereign hand and makes this presentation invaluable to any student of prophetic literature.”

Russell Cotnoir Jr. Pastor/Teacher Fayette Baptist Church and First Light Radio Ministry, WBCI 105.9 FM)

"(Sturtevant's) alIegorical representation may well be right! I remember in seminary hearing this general point of view ... but not with the precision and carefulness of this manuscript." (Kenneth N. Taylor, Author, The Living Bible Paraphrase Chairman of the Board, Tyndale House Publishers)

(To the author) "I say you have done a fine work in comparing Scripture with Scripture in a respective way. Thank you for granting me permission to make use of the contents of your fine book."  Arno Froese, Director, Midnight Call Ministries

"Come With Me From Lebanon is a departure from traditional commentaries on the Song of Solomon. It is stimulating and thought-provoking. I rejoice at (the author’s) love for God and His Word. May this book encourage all who long for the soon-coming return of our Lord Jesus Christ." (Lester S. Dow, Jr., Pastor Richmond Corner Baptist Church, Maine)

"How refreshing it is, at last, to find a credible verse by verse commentary on the Song of Solomon! This is a must for every Pastor and Christian worker." (Stuart N. Hilton Pastor/Christian Educator)

"Come With Me From Lebanon sheds exciting new light on the Song of Solomon. What has until now been considered but a beautiful portrayal of God's Love may also prove to be a 'sleeping giant' of end-time prophecy. This book is certain to stimulate a reappraisal of the Song." (Harold Duff, Bible Teacher/Conference Speaker)