2 out of 4 stars
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Riding with the King, by Thomas Amsden, is an autobiography about the author’s adventurous life with all the ups, downs, and mishaps he had until he met Jesus and became a true believer. Amsden manages to be in constant trouble growing up, especially in school. He eventually joins the navy, finds himself in even more rowdy situations, and goes on to work a series of jobs, including starting his own business, before seeing Jesus and following His instructions to uproot Amsden’s life and move to Alabama.
I believe the most positive aspect of this book is the author’s genuinely unfiltered voice. The reader can clearly see who he is at all stages in his life. He holds nothing back in relation to himself and his thoughts. Some of these don’t put him in a flattering light and use strong or harsh language, but I believe it’s all essential for the reader to understand that the overall voice coming through is still his.
Through his unique perspective, he makes some interesting observations about himself and the world around him. For example, I thought it worth noting when he said the devil works by getting people to overthink instead of taking action.
Despite appreciating Amsden’s unique voice and perspectives, I had difficulty following his story at times. He skips around with his stories, jumping back to childhood then adulthood pre and post meeting Jesus. Normally, this isn’t something negative, but it was written in a way that made me question if a chapter was out of place or written completely separate from the rest of the book. One example is when he introduces his brother Pat in the first chapter. In the second chapter, however, Pat is reintroduced and now the author says Pat’s nickname is Tubes and proceeds to oscillate between the names.
A large part of Amsden’s life has been his pranks and fighting. He is, afterall, a body builder and personal trainer. While I can appreciate that being a large influence in his life, there seems to be a disproportionately high amount of stories about his memorable fights and pranks to the relatively few stories about his transformational belief and the effect it has had on his life, which he continues to remind the reader is the point of his story. It was also difficult at times to follow if his stories were real or fantasy. He writes about all of them in detail as if they’ve happened, but some seem improbable and the author admits that he has a very active and detailed imagination.
I rate this book two out of four stars. I encountered more than ten errors which makes me question if the book was professionally edited, and unfortunately, the negatives outweigh the positives of the author’s writing at this point.
Despite my lower rating, I do recommend this book for the author’s overall voice and personal story. As I’ve mentioned, there is some quite strong language and also some scenes that would be inappropriate for young readers. Therefore, I recommend this book to a mature audience who is willing to see the inspiration through the chaos and wants to be reminded that anyone can be transformed through Jesus.
Riding with the King
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