While a touch ponderous at times, Dennis Peterson’s Combat! Lessons on Spiritual Warfare from Military History gives a good overview of military history with a strong spiritual explanation of how God’s hand has shaped history. The book takes a deep look at historic battles and shows the ways that those victories (or defeats) can teach us how to better lead Christian lives. Peterson then goes on to talk about the most important parts of military strategy (open lines of communication, support troops, supply lines, etc.) and connects those ideas with maintaining a good Christian walk.
This book is for teens and adults. While those groups could probably get a lot from its messages and connect interest in the history of war with Christianity, I don’t think the language and style of writing are best fit for teenagers, and only somewhat for adults. Even though they would understand the concepts on a higher level, there is nothing in the book that restricts it to older groups.
I would recommend Combat! for boys between the ages of 8 and 13 who are interested in military history. Parents could read it aloud to their children. The only trouble with this book is that Peterson goes a little too far with trying to make Christianity sound cool to children. It certainly is important and right to do that, but this lowers the age of the reading base. Aside from this tendency, the book is compelling and carries a good message. Overall, I would recommend this book with an 8 (on a scale of 1-10) to a younger person, and perhaps a 6 to a teenager; though the message of the book is essential to everyone.
I would also suggest this book to those with only a slight knowledge of history, especially Bible history. If you are very familiar with the history of Israel and how they conquered the land, it can feel a bit repetitive. But, if that is a new thing to you, it would deepen the intrigue and be a helpful second resource. This book would be perfect for young children who are reading through the Old Testament for the first time and could read Combat! at the same time, for a more personal look at the battles and principles behind them.
Combat! would be a great book for a young reader who treated it more like a devotion to be read each day, learning each day a new way to apply military strategy to their lives. It is clear that Peterson did a lot of research and has a deep understanding of both military and war history, and a solid understanding of the Bible. It is a good read overall and Peterson does a good job of calling to the forefront the possible weaknesses of a person’s spiritual walk, and showing how everyone could improve their relationship with God and the strength of their walk.