Review of I Am Second by Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett

I Am Second

I got this book for free as part of the Book­Sneeze book review program. This did not effect my review in any way (as you will see). For more info on how I do these reviews, check out my disclo­sure policy.

I Am Second is a book born out of a website. At the site, famous people tell the story of becoming Christian and giving their lives and their fame to God. There’s every­thing from authors to athletes; football coaches to rock stars and every­thing in between. If you’re famous, Christian, and willing to talk to the I Am Second crew you’re probably on the site.

In the book, 20 of these stories have been inter­preted by Bender and Sterrett in an attempt to spread the site into a new medium. But does it work? Is this a book you should read?

The Book

I Am Second follows a fairly consis­tent pattern:

  • A person’s life starts out pretty well but quickly goes horribly wrong after a series of bad choices.
  • The person goes further and further into oblivion.
  • The person finds God, gives up their hopes of success and becomes a Christian.
  • The person finds massive success through their faith.

It’s important to note that the pattern focuses on God, not Jesus. While Jesus is mentioned heavily in the final 5 pages of the book, He is almost completely absent from the rest of it. I had just read both Nate Larkin’s book Samson and the Pirate Monks and Josh Hamilton’s book Beyond Belief (both stories are in I Am Second) so I knew the lack of Jesus in their stories wasn’t the speaker’s, but the authors. From what I’ve seen of I Am Second, they leave Jesus out of the stories to make Chris­tianity more palatable for an unbe­lieving audience. Unfor­tu­nately, it makes for bland versions of great stories.

Most of the stories are shallow and devoid of God. God is only there to give them fame and success after they commit their lives to him. There’s usually a brief “it wasn’t the success that meant anything to me” but the authors make sure to focus every story on the success of the person, not on God. This is the opposite of their proposed purpose and it takes away meaning from the last 5 pages.

This book could have been great, focusing on how God, and specif­i­cally Jesus, change lives and make life worth living. But instead we get a fairly watered down version of 20 amazing stories. And with the links attached to the end of each story connecting the reader to the I Am Second website, this book appears to be more of a marketing tool for the site than an attempt to spread the word of God and the power Christ has in our lives.

Final Thoughts

I really can’t recommend I Am Second. There are a few well written and engaging stories, but the majority of them are shallow, short, and focus on the opposite of what they’re suppose to.

It’s a shame really, because it had a lot of potential to go deeper than the videos on the site. It had a chance to let the reader into these changed lives in a way you can’t do on a screen.

2 Responses to “Review of I Am Second by Doug Bender and Dave Sterrett”

  1. Loren Pinilis January 16, 2012 at 2:35 PM #

    I had wondered if this was any good after I saw that Lecrae had taken part in it (I have a lot of respect for him), but it looks like I was wrong. Thanks for the review. Lecrae’s still solid though :)

    • Alex January 16, 2012 at 2:54 PM #

      I like a lot of the videos, and the testimony of many of the people are solid (specif­i­cally thinking of Lecrae, Josh Hamilton, Nate Larkin, and others). But the book was a disap­point­ment. If you’ve never been to the site, you still might want to check it out.

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