Friday, June 13, 2008

Awaken the Dragon by David Aikman

I don’t know a lot about Chinese culture. I’ve been brought up in a generation in which the communist government has indeed been the “dragon” of many sermons and Sunday School lessons throughout my lifetime. Now, after reading Richard Ireton’s novel Awaken the Dragon I feel like I have gained an entirely new understanding of the Asian culture. Truly, David Aikman’s years as a reporter are brilliantly reflected in this unusual tale.

In many ways, this novel was very different from what I was expecting. With the sinister looking knife on the cover, I was expecting a fast-paced, action-thriller type book. Instead, I was immersed in the daily life of a foreign correspondent - Richard Ireton. The action was slower and more sinister, because you were exploring a very deliberate, very otherworldly way of thinking. I appreciated David Aikman clarifying (at the end of course) the fact from fiction in the book, but as I suspected, a lot of the book is simply an accurate portrayal of what life is like when you are a reporter pursuing a story with dangerous world-wide ramifications. I especially enjoyed learning how a reporter must be constantly aware of the people in his environment and respect cultural nuances without offending anyone in order to gain the trust needed to ultimately get the story. It is a very dangerous game indeed!

America has always been the polar opposite of China. Many believe that China represents a very grave danger to our country as we approach the end-times before Christ’s return. Understanding what I do now, after reading this book, about the Taoist mindset, I have a better grasp of the danger that China represents – especially to the Christian faith. In this tale, Richard Ireton is a avowed skeptic. He lives his life in the moment and in hot pursuit of a breaking story. When he comes face to face with a sinister power not of this world, wielded by those who wish to overtake the Chinese government and vent their wrath upon Americans, he faces his own mortality in a new and deeper way. The fact that it is the Christian underground church members that come to his aide shows him that there is much beyond the realm of present reality which he must consider.

Aikman does an excellent job of painting vivid word pictures of China, its people, and its culture. The story draws you in, moment by moment and the danger mounts as Ireton reaches the pinnacle of the story he is pursuing. He makes it through only with the gracious help from some unexpected Christian sources, and along the way learns that there is more to life - including romance – that he has been missing. The ending leaves the door wide open for Ireton’s reporting to continue in a new and even more dangerous environment. I hope it won’t be long before we can enjoy another adventure alongside this intelligent, thoughtful reporter.


Dr. David Aikman is an award-winning print and broadcast journalist, a best-selling author, and a foreign policy consultant based in the Washington, D.C.-area. His wide-ranging professional achievements include a 23-year career at TIME Magazine with reporting spanning the globe of nearly all the major historical events of the time. Since leaving TIME, he has authored a half-dozen books, including the new analytical biography of the great evangelist Billy Graham (BILLY GRAHAM: HIS LIFE AND INFLUENCE, Thomas Nelson, 2006), and the ground-breaking JESUS IN BEIJING: HOW CHRISTIANITY IS TRANSFORMING CHINA AND CHANGING THE WORLD BALANCE OF POWER (Regnery, 2003). A revised and updated paperback edition was released in October 2006.

With special expertise in China, Russia, the Middle East, Mongolia and religious freedom issues worldwide, Dr. Aikman is frequently invited to deliver expert testimony at Congressional hearings and is a popular speaker at conferences, seminars, panels and to academic, church and professional groups at events all over the world.

Dr. Aikman’s broadcast career includes a 1999 two-hour documentary on the Middle East peace process, Vanishing Peace: The Aftermath of Oslo, that was aired worldwide on the BBC, and a six-part documentary based on his book GREAT SOULS: SIX WHO CHANGED THE CENTURY, an examination of the lives of six morally exemplary figures of the 20th century: Mother Teresa, Pope John Paul II, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Billy Graham, Nelson Mandela, and Elie Wiesel.

In addition, Dr. Aikman has been a commentator on NBC, ABC, CNN, Fox News and the BBC and has also been a guest on shows on C-Span, CBN and local television and radio stations around the country. Dr. Aikman is on the editorial board of the Salem Communications, one of the nation’s largest radio networks, and his editorials air regularly on Christian radio stations around the United States. He has also appeared regularly since 1986 on the Voice of America weekly news show “Issues in the News” and often is the host of the program.

Dr. Aikman writes a regular column on international affairs for Christianity Today called “Global Prognosis,” and is a regular contributor to such publications as The American Spectator and The Weekly Standard.

He is an associate professor of history at Patrick Henry University in Virginia, where he also coaches young writers. His teaching career includes two decades of teaching international relations at the University of the Nations in Hawaii. Dr. Aikman also serves as a Senior Fellow for The Trinity Forum, a leadership academy that seeks to transform society by helping leaders examine issues in their personal and public lives in the context of faith.

In 1998, Dr. Aikman founded Gegrapha (, a worldwide fellowship group for Christians in journalism. He is now its founding chairman and a board member.

Dr. Aikman speaks six languages, including French, German, Russian and Chinese.

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