Review of “The Last Days”

tldThe Last Days is actually the first book by Joel C. Rosenberg that I’d read. As mentioned previously, though this is the second book in the actual series, it is the one I first got my hands on. Out of all the books in this series, the plot in this work is probably the most linear and simple to follow. Several main antagonists are introduced and detailed out, the main protagonists are built upon from The Last Jihad, and the more minor characters are also laid out before the reader in a very thoughtful manner.

Book two in Rosenberg’s political action thriller series that highlights the lives of Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy takes a swing to the war-ridden territory of the Gaza Strip. With Saddam Hussein’s regime overthrown in Iraq, the world turns to the Presidents of the United States and the European Union to bring a final, lasting peace to the Middle-East. This is seeming more and more likely to be accomplished until a series of events take place in Gaza that rivet the world; but in fact are just the beginning of a massive conspiratorial plot to destroy the free people of the world.

Bennett and McCoy are right in the middle of the peace process: appointed by President MacPherson of the United States to oversee a hopefully lasting peace and cooperation between the Israelis and Palestinians. Also appointed to join the peace process are two very influential figures respectively for the Israeli and Palestinian people: Dmitri Galishnikov and Ibrahim Sa’id. The negotiators unfortunately find themselves in the midst of a violent plot against peace; yet going through these events together bring the two sides closer together, allowing them to discuss differences and lay out a road map for peace.

I feel that Mr. Rosenberg presents a very accurate picture for main setting of The Last Days: the Gaza Strip, and specifically Gaza City. Though I have never visited there, it seems to be painted in a very real-to-life way to make the reader sympathize for the citizens that live there, as well as see the difficulty of introducing democracy and peace to a war-torn people.

As the narrative drew to its climax, I noticed just how much I enjoy Joel Rosenberg’s style of writing. He writes intriguing plots that, while complex, also seem realistic and honest. The spiritual plot also begins to first develop in the lives of the main characters in The Last Days. I feel that this is the book that “gets the ball rolling” in the lives of Jon and Erin. The remainder of the works in this series can be very emotionally driving at times, and this book lays the groundwork for Mr. Rosenberg to be able to weave in the complex spiritual and emotional plots that cap the series.

Of course, I am glad that I was able to read this via my Kindle, as well as listen to it with my wife via our Audible subscription. The reader was solid, easy-to-understand, and surprisingly precise with his pronunciation of some words in the Semitic languages and Russian. It is a joy to read an exciting, intelligently written, and well plotted book. Though it is best to read The Last Days second in the series, it ended up being fine with me coming back and reading The Last Jihad last, after reading this. Again, you won’t regret picking this up, taking a week or two, and reading The Last Days.

Review of “The Last Jihad”

thjBelieve it or not, this is one of my most recent reads of Joel C. Rosenberg’s end-times, political, action-thriller novels; this is also not my first review of one of his books (read about Implosion here). Yes, I know that it is the first fiction book that the author wrote, but the funny thing is that there was no Kindle edition when I first heard about and became interested in his novels. I had first heard of Mr. Rosenberg’s works just after finishing college in 2009. I wasn’t really in a good habit of reading back then, but I kept him in the back of my mind–just in case I started to read more often. In 2010, I received a 2nd generation Kindle for my birthday, and after a few months of having it (and loving it), I remembered Joel C. Rosenberg again.

I navigated to one day, knowing that I wanted to read a good fiction. I found The Last Jihad, was about to purchase it, but found out–to my dismay–that it was not available in an eBook format yet (it is now). The funny thing was that at that time, I did not think that his novels were necessarily linked, so I found the next one in the search results, which ended up being the second book in the series: The Last Days (I’ll review that for my next review). Thankfully, as much as the novels were linked, I did not feel like I missed out by starting at book two. I ended up reading all the books in this series, and then on to the next series with the books: The Twelfth Imam and The Tehran Initiative (and am right now halfway through The Damascus Countdown).

Last fall, a year after reading all of the Kindle versions of Mr. Rosenberg’s novels (minus The Last Jihad), my wife and I were going to be going on an eight-hour trip, and I thought she would like to listen to the audio version of The Twelfth Imam. I purchased the audiobook from Audible just before leaving, used the Audible app on my Android, and we had a blast! Over the next few months, we  used Audible a lot, finishing the two available novels for the David Shirazi series in no time. Just as a side note: it was just as fun and thrilling to read the books a second time via Audible, even after already purchasing the Kindle versions.

After finishing the two novels taking place in Iran, I figured it would be an enjoyable family time to be able to sit down in the evenings and just listen to a good series of books. Naturally, that would start out with Rosenberg’s first novel–the only one I had not gotten around to reading yet–The Last Jihad.

There is no doubt that the author has a talent to take real-world scenarios, put them into a fictional context, and make them entertaining for anyone. I am definitely the history buff and political junkie of the family, but I think that my wife has been just as interested–if not more so–than I am. On the cover, it would be easy to think of The Last Jihad and its sequels as simply a story for a niche market, but I have found that the author’s fiction works are enjoyable to everyone I have talked to about them. I have yet to meet someone else who has read Joel Rosenberg that has said they did not love reading his works.

The Last Jihad begins with a thrilling sequence events that take the reader from Denver, Colorado to Baghdad, Iraq. You are gracefully introduced to characters who, by the end of the series, almost become friends to you: President MacPherson, Marcia Kirkpatrick, Dr. Mordechai, Dmitri Galishnikov, and of course Erin McCoy and Jon Bennett. It was nice for me to get all of the background that I did not know about, or was hinted at in the sequels. The character building is gradual, and takes place over the course of the series, but I feel that the main characters are all introduced and played out well in this first book.

Multi-layered plots unfold from the American soil–in a time very reminiscent of the post-9/11 US geopolitical situation–and from slowly unfolding events happening in the Middle-East: the epicenter of the world. Assassinations, terrorism, and weapons of mass destruction are beginning to plague the world to a greater extent than they were before; evil men are gaining momentum; many good men are standing down; the world seems like it may implode. However, unlikely heroes rise up to their life’s calling, make tough decisions, while finding spiritual truth in the midst of their trials.

From a Christian standpoint, The Last Jihad is definitely the beginning of each character’s spiritual journey. Again, over the course of the series, you can truly see the spiritual growth, struggles, and decisions that have to be made at each step; yet this piece of the puzzle is only hinted at in The Last Jihad, making everything feel more realistic as plots unfold later in the book, and eventually later in the series.

I found The Last Jihad to be extremely readable as well. It is easy to pick up for just a few minutes and read, and even more easy to sit down and read for a few hours, losing track of time in the process. The flow of events is smooth, but details are not skimmed over either. I felt like I got the whole story of Jon Bennett and Erin McCoy as I listened to the last few words of the audiobook.

I cannot recommend reading The Last Jihad enough. I know that  Joel C. Rosenberg’s novels have made evenings very exciting in our home. I know once you are finished with this first book, you will want to continue on. I am also going to finish reviewing all of his books that I’ve read here as well, over the next few weeks (though probably not in such great length…I had to give the background story for this first one!).

Election Day – Finally

I’ve already made my predictions (Part I, Part II, Part III). I am now ready to vote–finally! Actually, I have been for a few years. It’s pretty simple for me: straight Republican for this election; however, I won’t be pushing the “Straight Republican” button on the machine. Why? There’s just more satisfaction for me for selecting each candidate. Here’s my list:

  • President: Mitt Romney (Paul Ryan VP)
  • US Senator: Tom Smith
  • US Congress (4th District): Scott Perry
  • Attorney General: David Freed
  • State Treasurer: Diana Irey Vaughan
  • PA General Assembly Representative: Stan Saylor
  • Auditor General: John Maher

To be completely honest, I’m not even sure yet if I’ll vote in the morning before work, or in the evening after I get off of work. I’m leaning for the morning. And of course, I’ll be up late watching the results come in. I remember doing this for the first time in 2000 (I was 13 then…yes, I’m a nerd for this stuff!), staying up until 2AM, going to bed, then waking up to hear that the election was still a tossup. Hopefully, it won’t be this time around.

As an aggregate from what I’ve heard, I’ll give you a taste of things to watch out for, to see which way things are trending.

  1. 6:00PM EST | Indiana is one of the first “battleground-ish” states to close its polls (though it should have no problem going for Romney). Indiana has to be called early for Romney. If it takes a few hours, Republicans will be in trouble.
  2. 7:00PM EST | Florida and Virginia are the big states to close at this time. If both are called for Romney before 9:00PM, this will be a good night for Romney.
  3. 8:00PM EST | This is the big one. Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan all close at 9. Of course, there could be some polls open later because of long lines, but overall, between 8PM and 10PM, I think the election will be decided. If any of these states get called for any candidate before 9PM, the night will look very bright for that candidate. If Romney wins ONE of these, the contest is OVER. If Obama holds all of them (especially Ohio), it will be tough for Romney to win–nearly requiring a miracle.
  4. 9:00PM EST | Colorado comes up at this hour. If Ohio ends up swinging in Romney’s favor, and he ends up losing several of the other tossups (like Virginia, New Hampshire, or Iowa), Colorado will push him over the top, theoretically. If Obama picks up Colorado, along with Virgina and Iowa after Romney wins Ohio, then Mr. Obama could still eek out a victory. Wisconsin is of course here as well. Romney would have to have it if he loses Ohio. Otherwise, the state doesn’t mean quite as much to either candidate.

And a few tips from me to my fellow conservative voters:

  • Don’t let the exit polls that might be leaked in the afternoon do ANYTHING to you. Don’t say, “Oh, it looks like Obama’s going to win. I’ll just vote next time.” That’s what the Democrats want you to do. That’s what they tried to do in the 2004 elections when Bush won, as well as the recent Wisconsin recall election. If we would have went by the leaked exit polls in Wisconsin, then Walker would have lost handily. Note: he won by 5 points.
  • Make sure your vote is counted. If somehow you are not on your precinct’s registration list (because you moved recently, ended up at the wrong polling place, etc.) make sure you get to the right polling place.
  • Don’t let long lines hinder you. If the polling place is about to close, make sure that you stay in line.

And on a much more important note:

If Mitt Romney is elected President, the Senate flips to Republican control, and the House stays solidly red, then guess what? In the long run as Christians, this means pretty much nothing. Yes, I am a conservative. I believe in free-market, capitalist economics. I am pro-life, pro-gun, pro-freedom of religion, and pro-limited-government. But my political beliefs are gong to change our country to what it needs to be at heart. I am reminded of this so much when reading biographies of historic preachers (Edwards, Moody, Spurgeon,  Torrey, Finney, among others)? They never were involved in preaching a “vote this guy in, and revival will come” gospel. What did they pray for? A Spiritual Awakening: one preaches the Living Christ; that floods the aisles with converts; that mends families; that rescues the needy; that strives for Godly Holiness. This is what we need as a nation. Sure, a political victory is great to have. But what does it matter in eternity? Vote on Election Day. Vote for God’s moral values. Vote for freedom. But never forget Whom we serve for eternity!

I would recommend reading Joel Rosenberg’s Implosion for more on this subject.

2012 Presidential Election Predictions – Part III – Real Deal

It is now the day before the Presidential Election, and so far I have shown some of the basis for my prediction methodology, as well as the states that have a chance to swing to either candidate, but are leaning one way or the other. I have eight states that I think are true “tossups.” Many would disagree with me on whether they think these states are tossups or not, but I feel pretty confident (based on polls and other non-professional observations) that these states could go either way. So far, not counting these eight states, we have a map and tally that looks something like this:

Barack Obama: 223

Mitt Romney: 206

First off, I feel that I need to explain a highly critical factor in these states, without having to repeat the same sentences for each prediction. GOP turnout is enthusiasm is not quite at a 1984 level, but it is definitely higher than 2008. Even Democrats must admit that conservative voters did a horrible job showing up to vote for the McCain ticket. Even Republicans were tired of the Washington cronyism that had prevailed for the two or three years leading up to 2008. Barack Obama not only rode a huge wave of liberalism spurred on by the anti-war sentiment and economic peril, but he also rode on the lack of conservative enthusiasm. He will not have that luxury in 2012. We must not forget that the American people have already rejected Barack Obama and his policies once in 2010. Though this election will not be near the tsunami that occurred in the previous midterm, the majority of the same sentiment still exists. We will see to what extent tomorrow.

The following states and my predictions are in order of least competitive, to most competitive (subjectively speaking).


The good ol’ Sunshine State! According to the majority of polls in the past month, Florida is leaning slightly to Romney or tied. I’ve heard from plenty of pundits that Florida is a microcosm of the country, which I tend to agree with. The western side of the state is heavily Republican, the eastern side favors Democrats (minus Jacksonville and the Cuban population), the panhandle is not much different from the rest of the deep south (except Tallahassee), and there’s the geographical region that is mentioned over and over again: the I-4 Corridor (from Tampa, through Orlando, and up to Daytona Beach). Based on polls, voter enthusiasm, the retired population, and national trends, I think that Florida will be more like the 2004 election than the 2008 election. Florida’s large lot of 29 electors is going to Mitt.

New Hampshire

I just finished my first trip to New Hampshire about a month ago, and found a state where, ironically, the citizens that live the metropolitan ares trend Republican, while those in the more rural areas trend Democrat. New Hampshire has become more and more like its neighbors Vermont and Massachusetts in the past couple of decades. Granted that free-spirited attitude that prevails among the people still shines, which gives Mitt Romney some hope, but I think that New Hampshire is going to be in Barack Obama’s column. Romney still has a very good chance here, but the demographics of the state are trending Obama’s way. 4 electoral votes to Mr. Obama.


Iowa is another state, like New Mexico, I cannot quite wrap my head around. If the average person were to drive through the state, and get to know its people, they would think that the state is not much different from its neighbors Nebraska or Missouri (at least the Northern half). But Iowa has a long Democratic tradition, stemming from the university campuses and…well…tradition! Iowa also gave President Obama his somewhat unexpected victory in the 2008 Democratic primaries over Hillary Clinton. The state has a heart for Obama. For Governor Romney, he has the national rural and suburban trends helping him out, along with the endorsement of the Des Moines Resgister, which endorsed Obama in 2008. Some polls are showing a tie, several show Mr. Obama ahead, and a few show Mr. Romney ahead. I have a feeling that we are going to see Iowa, and its 6 electoral college votes, go to Barack Obama. This is going to be a very close one, though, that all depends on turnout.


This state is going to be fun to watch. I think that the Colorado conservative vote is really going to come out of the woodwork in 2012. Early voting is showing some promising signs for Mitt Romney. However, Mr. Obama has a strong and growing presence in Denver, and with the Latino vote. This helped Michael Bennet defeat Ken Buck in the 2010 midterms, and will again help Obama in the presidential. But with the crowd sizes, and conservative national trend, I have a hard time seeing Mitt Romney lose Colorado, and its 9 electors. The Republican get-out-the-vote effort has been successful to a large extent, and the early voting numbers have not been very positive for Mr. Obama.


I had the privilege of seeing the newly announced vice-presidential candidate Paul Ryan hold a campaign rally in Fairfax County, Virginia a couple of months ago, and let me tell you, Virginia is ready for President Romney. This state is still mostly a  conservative state, but mainly because of the growth around DC (one of the most liberal tracks of land in the nation), they picked Obama in 2008. Also, I believe that a lot of rural voters decided to give Obama in chance in 2008; in part because Bush left a sour taste in their mouth, an also because there was a national wave of enthusiasm for Obama. Due to the fact that Republicans won handily in the 2009 Governor’s race by electing Bob McDonnell, as well as captured several congressional seats, I think that Mr. Romney will do well here–even to the point where it may help elect George Allen back to the senate. Virginia, and its 13 votes will also be in Mitt Romney’s column. 


This one is my surprise. I know that most will disagree with me on Pennsylvania, but I’m feeling a ton of Romney enthusiasm. Philadelphia and its suburbs will make or break it, not only for the states electors, but also for the race in general. Philadelphia city population growth is stagnant. This is the liberal stronghold of the state. The Philadelphia suburbs are a tossup. Mr. Obama must offset Romney’s votes in the suburbs by turning out the inner-city vote in droves. There is also the western part of the state, centered around Pittsburgh, but also including all of the rural vote surrounding it. This region is not going to be very friendly to Barack Obama like it was in 2008. They have coal, guns, and faith on their minds (“bitter clingers”, as they were once referred to). In all of those categories, Democrats are not well liked. I believe that we will see a sizable group of Democrats cross the aisle and vote for Mr. Romney this time. This trend may be seen throughout the state, and possibly throughout the country tomorrow. I am stepping out on a limb by saying this, but Governor Mitt Romney will be awarded Pennsylvania’s 20 electoral votes.


Wisconsin is one of the bastions of Progressivism. Wisconsin is also more friendly to Republicans in the last couple of years than it has been in a while, thanks in part to the election of Scott Walker, and his subsequently large victory in the recall election. I think that many people overlook the Scott Walker effect in Wisconsin, and possibly nation-wide. And there is also the Paul Ryan effect in Wisconsin. I have no doubt that Republicans and Independents alike will turn out at the polls for Mitt Romney. The real question is if Barack Obama can offset those gains with large margins in his strongholds of Milwaukee and Madison. Nonetheless, I don’t think that the Democratic turnout will be anything like 2008–not even enough to offset the Republican enthusiasm. 10 votes to Mitt Romney from Wisconsin.


This is the state that all the big pundits are talking about. All of the ads, campaign rallies, and overall attention on Ohio have likely made Ohio’s citizens ready for this election to be over. Ohio, according to the polling numbers, seems to be leaning Mr. Obama’s way. But as far as I see it, those are the  only–maybe the GM/Chrysler thing too–leading indicators that are promising for Barack Obama. Early voting numbers are down by a large margin for Democrats, and up by a large margin for Republicans. Evangelical and Catholics are trending heavily against the Democrats–many of whom voted for Obama in the 2008. I think that what happened in neighboring Indiana is going to spill over into Ohio. The voters in this state have a bit of “buyer’s remorse.” They are ready for a real change this election. Yes, Ohio is going to Romney–and its prized 18 electoral college votes.

Mitt Romney: 305

Barack Obama: 233

This is my final score for the 2012 Election. I would not call it a landslide, but it is surely a big win for the Republicans. There is a big margin of error on my analysis, but I feel pretty confident with it. I have no authority over the statistics, nor am I any “expert” political analyst. These are just the facts that I am seeing on the surface, coupled with my view on the ground, and topped off with a little intuition. I’m excited to see what will happen tomorrow night. If I’m way off, then as I say to my wife all the time, “Oh, well!” If I’m right on, or even close, the first thing that I will do is…laugh! I have to admit, it would be funny if I guessed everything correctly–kind of like if someone were to guess the whole NCAA bracket correctly.

Tomorrow, I’m going to do a little “epilogue” on this series. It will be much shorter, and little bit of an “Election Day Guide” on what to look for, as well as a summary of my overall thoughts on America’s place in the world: no matter which way the election swings.