Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tea with Hezbollah: Sitting at the Enemies Table Our Journey Through the Middle East Giveaway

Publisher's Summary: Tea with Hezbollah combines nail-biting narrative with the texture of rich historical background, as readers join novelist Ted Dekker and his co-author and Middle East expert, Carl Medearis, on a hair-raising journey. They are with them in every rocky cab ride, late-night border crossing, and back-room conversation as they sit down one-on-one with some of the most notorious leaders of the Arab world. These candid discussions with leaders of Hezbollah and Hamas, with muftis, sheikhs, and ayatollahs, with Osama bin Laden’s brothers, reveal these men to be real people with emotions, fears, and hopes of their own. Along the way, Dekker and Medearis discover surprising answers and even more surprising questions that they could not have anticipated—questions that lead straight to the heart of Middle Eastern conflict.

Through powerful narrative Tea With Hezbollah will draw the West into a completely fresh understanding of those we call our enemies and the teaching that dares us to love them. A must read for all who see the looming threat rising in the Middle East.

Author's Bios: Ted Dekker is the author of many nationally bestselling novels, including Bone Man’s Daughters, The Circle Trilogy, Thr3e, and House, which was coauthored by Frank Peretti. His unique style of storytelling has captured the attention of millions worldwide. Visit him at

Carl Medearis is the founder and president of International Initiatives, LLC, an organization that promotes cultural, educational, and commercial exchange between the East and the West. He is an advisor on Arab affairs to the members of the U.S. Congress and leaders in international business.

My Thoughts: I try to carefully select the books I will review. I don't want to be obligated to read a book that doesn't interest me. I don't think it is fair to Waterbrook to pick books I won't like and write negative reviews. I am a Ted Dekker fan. Knowing that Muslims and Christians both revere Jesus, Muslims as a prophet and Christians as the Son of God, I found the premise of Tea with Hezbollah fascinating. Two Americans, meeting with leaders of the Muslim world for the sole purpose of asking, "Is it possible to love our enemies as Jesus teaches?" I expected to observe leaders wrestle with the implication of this question. I expected interviews without filters and without political commentary slipping in. I was happy to receive a copy of this book to review and give away.

It's taken me a bit of time to figure out if I like or dislike this book. It was a good read. There were things I liked about the book.

I enjoyed reading the transcripts from the interviews (more on that later).

I found the story of Nicole, the daughter of a Palestinian refugee, which weaves through the narrative, fascinating!

I found the history shared intriguing.

I was bothered by Ted's commentary. I wanted to read the interviews and form my own conclusions. I didn't appreciate comments that sought to instruct me on true Christianity and true Islam. I didn't appreciate phrases such as, "so called war on terror"....why? I can form my own opinion on these issues, that wasn't the purpose of THIS book. I was impatient to reach the insightful interviews and answers of leaders in the Muslim world. By the first interview, I was tired of hearing about the danger of this trip. This slowed the pace of the book and left me bored. I began to feel his repeated emphasis on the danger he was in was silly and whiny. He did not HAVE to make this trip if he believed it to be so dangerous. He was making the trip to write a book and earn money. Fine; don't expect a lot of sympathy from me or kudos for bravery on this front. Many of the world's military are going to that part of the country, facing much more danger and talking much less about the danger. It didn't sit well.

The interviews, as I said, were interesting. I felt, however, they often fell short of delving into the heart of the question, "Is it possible to love your enemies?" Most of the interview was filled with things like, "What makes you laugh," "What is your favorite joke"? I understand the technique, but I WANTED to hear insightful answers. Finally, usually near the end of the interview, Ted would lob his question. Often a soft ball answer was given, and Ted didn't follow up. I didn't see questions that led to wrestling with the question, or insightful sharing. I felt the book fell short of really answering the question, "Is it possible to love your enemies?"

To state it plainly….the parts of this book I loved; I loved. Between the interviews, historical snippets and Nicole cameos, I found myself bored.

I would recommend this book if you are looking for an interesting travelogue, are curious about the interviews with Muslim leaders (some were good and thought provoking - I cry each time I pray to God), or want to know more about the history of this part of the world. If you expect to have the question in the title answered you may be disappointed.

Waterbrook has graciously supplied a copy of this book for me to giveaway. It may help you to know that all the reviews I've read of this book have been positive. YOU may love it. ::snort:: If you would like to win this book, simply leave a comment to enter the drawing. I'll choose a winner after noon JST, Saturday, 6 February. You'll have one week to be sure I have mailing info (which will be destroyed after the book is mailed, I really am NOT building a database ::snort::). If mailing info is not sent to me within a week, I will pick a new winner.
Readers in Japan, or with APO addresses, will be given first priority in this drawing as we OBVIOUSLY don't have all the options of libraries and Christian Bookstores nearby. Also, the monthly "Japanese themed giveaways" will be of little use to Asian residents. If no one from the above categories responds, we'll choose from the other comments. Leave your comments.

This book is on my 2010 Reading List.

Disclaimer: This book was provided for review by the WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group. I receive no payment, other than the book, for posting this review. If you'd like more information, click the link in the sidebar.

Choosing Joy!
©2010 D.R.G.
~Coram Deo~
Living all of life before the face of God...


vcitywife said...

Hi DE'Etta! I'm not APO, but I also don't have a Christian bookstore right around the corner! :> Would love to be considered for this book. I love reading about the middle east.

Jamie Z.

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

LOL - You ARE in Asia and fit the spirit of my priority. LOL Hmmmm.... wonder if I CAN mail to you from base or if I'll have to find a local post office. An adventure. LOL

Jen said...

Thank you for your review. I was hoping you would review this book as I wanted the perspective of a military wife. I have to agree about Mr. Dekker's whineynesss. That really did get tiresome. And I too was frustrated that what was supposed to be the purpose of the book, the interviews, seemed rather short and simple. But, the travelogue and history and the parable were good. And the interviews interesting.

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

Yeah, Jen, I keep wondering if I was too harsh in my reviews. There were parts of the book I enjoyed, but I was let down at the shallowness of the interviews. I guess I'll leave the review alone. I thought of simply rewriting it....because I HATE saying I didn't love the book. LOL

vcitywife said...

Oh DeEtta, I didn't even think about the fact that it might be too difficult to mail it here from there. I've heard things are WAY expensive there and I would think that means postage! Don't have a clue how the APO system works to Thailand! So, feel free to take me out of the running. Didn't even think about that. :>

Jamie Z.

DeEtta @ Courageous Joy said...

I'll look into it.....I THINK it should be like mailing something to you from the states. I just havne't tried it. LOL

Julia M. Reffner said...

I'm not sure what I will think, but want to give it a try. I like reading a variety of perspectives on the Middle East and have enjoyed Ted Dekker's fiction.