Like a lot of books/movies with the element of time travel, suspension of disbelief is required and often easier said than done when reading Andy Andrews’ The Final Summit, a novel that uses a fiction story of a summit gathering some of the greatest leaders and thinkers of recorded history to teach lessons about leadership and succeeding in life.
A sequel to The Traveler’s Gift, The Final Summit finds modern day business man David Ponder, the only “traveler” living in present time, tasked by the angel Gabriel with leading a summit to decide the fate of humanity. Understandably hesitant with the task – who wouldn’t be with names like Winston Churchill, Abraham Lincoln and King David on the guest list? – Ponder reluctantly accepts the challenge to lead this historic gathering. Their task: to determine what humanity must do to “right its ship.”
Based on the assumption that humanity is worse off in the now more than ever before – didn’t the writer of Ecclesiastes say “there’s nothing new under the sun” and hasn’t the world been heading down the wrong path since Adam and Eve? – the book views history through distinctly rose-colored glasses. The mere fact that the only person living in the modern age is a fictional character speaks to this along with repeated assumptions that things facing our world today – divisiveness in government, wars, famine, a decline in values, etc. – didn’t face the world in the whenever-the-heck-they-were good old days. While I am a personally a big fan of history and appreciate some of the historical tidbits and humor contained in the historic figures’ interactions, this slanted view of history make the story add up even less.
This isn’t to say the book doesn’t have value or purpose. When I was able to stop myself from trying to read too much into the theological and biblical ramifications of time-traveling humans putting their brains together to save a human race that from a Christian worldview has always been in the-toilet-doomed-for-destruction awaiting its savior in God’s son Jesus, I was inspired to look at my own life and apply the practical lessons contained.
The lessons are subtle and not overly prescriptive, which I found refreshing. The banter too between the historical figures was quite illuminating and often comical – not stuffy like in some history books – making for an easy and quick read. While I’m speaking favorably of the book, I should also mention that the too seldom told true story of the man credited with helping to defeat the Germans in World War II might be worth at the very least waiting for the book to hit the bargain bin.
Also, to Andrews’ credit, he avoids the formulaic 10 ways to be a better…. approach that typically doom books of this genre. Just remember to suspend your disbelief and shut off the insightful theological part of your brain at the table of contents.
A complimentary copy of this book was provided by its publisher, Thomas Nelson.
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