PERSONAL: Married; wife's name, Marni. Religion: Baptist.
ADDRESSES: Home—Southern CA. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Howard Publishing, 3117 N. 7th St., West Monroe, LA 71291.
CAREER: Writer, inspirational speaker, and minister. Taylor University, Fort Wayne, IN, guest instructor in writing, 2005.
AWARDS, HONORS: Silver Medallion Award, Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, for The Puritans; Christy Awards for excellence in Christian fiction, for While Mortals Sleep and His Watchful Eye.
"AMERICAN FAMILY PORTRAIT" SERIES; HISTORICAL FICTION
The Puritans, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1994.
The Colonists, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1995.
The Patriots, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1995.
The Adversaries, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1996.
The Pioneers, Victor Books (Wheaton, IL), 1996.
The Allies, Chariot Victor Publishing (Colorado Spring, CO), 1997.
The Victors, Chariot Victor Publishing (Colorado Springs, CO), 1998.
The Peacemakers, Chariot Victor Publishing (Colorado Springs, CO), 1999.
"AFRICAN COVENANT" SERIES; HISTORICAL FICTION
The Pride and the Passion, Moody Press (Chicago, IL), 1996.
Quest for the Promised Land, Moody Press (Chicago, IL), 1997.
"SONGS IN THE NIGHT" SERIES; HISTORICAL FICTION
While Mortals Sleep, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2001.
His Watchful Eye, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2002.
Above All Earthly Powers, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2004.
"BOOK OF BOOKS" SERIES; HISTORICAL FICTION
Glimpses of Truth, Zondervan Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 1999.
Beyond the Sacred Page, Zondervan Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 2003.
OTHER HISTORICAL FICTION
Dear Enemy, Bethany House Publishers (Minneapolis, MN), 2005.
(With Bill Bright) Proof, Howard Publishing (West Monroe, LA), 2005.
(With Bill Bright) Fire, Howard Publishing (West Monroe, LA), 2005.
Damn the Disabilities: Full Speed Ahead: Young Athletes Who Would Not Be Defeated!, WRS Publishing (Waco, TX), 1995.
Postmarked Heaven (fiction), F.H. Revell (Grand Rapids, MI), 2002.
(With Jerry Kuiper) Death Watch (suspense), Zondervan Publishing (Grand Rapids, MI), 2005.
SIDELIGHTS: Jack Cavanaugh is a prolific author of Christian historical fiction. His first series, "American Family Portrait," traces the history of one American family from colonial times through the Vietnam War. "Cavanaugh delivers an intriguing portrait of a devoted family's reaction to an era," Melissa Hudak wrote in a Library Journal review of the final book in the series, The Peacemakers.
Cavanaugh examines the history of English translations of the Bible in Glimpses of Truth and Beyond the Sacred Page, two books in the "Book of Books" series. The first title is told from the perspective of the fictional Thomas Torr, a peasant who becomes an assistant to John Wycliffe. Wycliffe was behind the first translation of the New Testament into English, a task he performed at great personal danger to himself. At that time—in the 1300s—the Catholic Church was firmly opposed to vernacular translations that would allow lay people to read the Bible without requiring a priest as intermediary. "This story combines elements of religious history with the qualities of a mainstream thriller," Melissa Hudak wrote in Library Journal, and, as John Mort noted in Booklist, it "mak[es] Cavanaugh's point that the Bible handed down to contemporary readers came at great cost."
Beyond the Sacred Page picks up the story of the English Bible two centuries later. Despite the passage of time in Cavanaugh's saga, little has changed. The Church is still firmly opposed to Bibles written in any language other than Latin, but a new English translation, that of William Tyndale, is widely (although secretly) available in England. The story focuses on Meg Foxe, wife of "heretic hunter" Pernell Foxe, whose mission is to destroy all copies of Tyndale's Bible. Meg, on the other hand, stumbles across one of Tyndale's translations and is fascinated by what she reads. "Characters are multifaceted, and the author admirably shows how sincere believers can be sincerely mistaken—which should give readers much to chew on," praised a Publishers Weekly critic.
In the "Songs in the Night" novel trilogy Cavanaugh examines the problem of being a faithful Christian in Nazi Germany. His protagonist is Reverend Josef Schumacher, whose father was taken away from him by Nazi brownshirts. In the first book of the trilogy, While Mortals Sleep, it is 1939. After one of the youth at Josef's church turns his own father in to the government for listening to forbidden British radio broadcasts, Josef attempts to organize a group of the remaining teenagers as a Christian resistance movement. Each of the youth, as well as Josef and his pregnant wife Mady, eventually become active in the wider resistance, despite the dangers their actions pose to themselves. "Cavanaugh is a smooth stylist," John Mort commented in Booklist, and In the Library reviewer Phillip Tomasso III deemed the book "a gripping, demanding novel" that is "emotionally draining, exciting and non-stop."
His Watchful Eye, the second book in the "Songs in the Night" trilogy, follows Konrad Reichmann, once one of the teens who attended Josef's church. Konrad remained loyal to the Nazis throughout his youth, and he is now an officer in the Schutz Staffeinel (SS), the branch of the German military that oversees the concentration camps and carries out executions of Jews. The more Konrad sees of the Nazi's true plans for Europe, however, the more disillusioned he becomes. Still, he struggles with whether to react to his awareness of the Nazi's evil. Meanwhile, Josef, Mady, their daughter, and Lissette, another of the youth from Josef's church, have founded a secret refugee camp where they shelter children who have been marked for death by the Nazis, as well as injured American pilots. Eventually, all find themselves in great danger. Cavanaugh "knows how to build suspense," Tomasso wrote, and "he carries his readers through some fingernail-chewing scenes filled with tension." The final book, Above All Earthly Powers, picks up the characters' lives in 1961. Most of them are still trapped in a totalitarian Germany, although now their rulers are communists. A few made it to the United States after the war and launch a mission to spirit those left behind out of East Germany and to bring them to America.
Death Watch, which Cavanaugh wrote in collaboration with Jerry Kuiper, is a very different novel from those Cavanaugh wrote previously. This book follows Sydney St. James, a reporter for a Los Angeles television station, as she investigates a bizarre mystery. People around the world have been receiving e-mails, telegrams, and other sorts of messages informing them that they will die in forty-eight hours—and, without fail and right on schedule, they all do. When Sydney, in partnership with German reporter Hunz Vonner, begins to get too close to the truth, their friends and co-workers begin to receive the death watch messages as well. Death Watch is a "thought-provoking mystery," W. Terry Whalin commented on FaithfulReader.com, that "could garner some great discussion for a small group." "The ending leaves readers hanging just a tad—perhaps the authors are setting up a sequel," noted a Publishers Weekly critic. However, the critic continued, either way "it makes a refreshing change from the expected perfectly pat conclusion."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, October 15, 1994, John Mort, review of The Puritans, p. 401; May 1, 1999, John Mort, review of Glimpses of Truth, p. 1579; October 1, 2001, John Mort, review of While Mortals Sleep, p. 281.
Library Journal, June 1, 1999, Melissa Hudak, reviews of The Peacemakers and Glimpses of Truth, p. 94; November 1, 2001, Melanie C. Duncan, review of While Mortals Sleep, p. 74; April 1, 2005, Tamara Butler, review of Proof, p. 81.
Publishers Weekly, June 17, 2002, Jana Riess, review of Postmarked Heaven, p. S22; January 20, 2003, review of Beyond the Sacred Page, p. 58; May 16, 2005, review of Death Watch, p. 41.
Christian Fiction Review Online, http://www.christianfictionreview.com/ (October 18, 2005), reviews of His Watchful Eye and Above All Earthly Powers.
FaithfulReader.com, http://www.faithfulreader.com/ (October 18, 2005), W. Terry Whalin, review of Death Watch.
In the Library Review, http://www.inthelibraryreview.com/ (June 2, 2004), Phillip Tomasso III, review of While Mortals Sleep; (June 11, 2004) Phillip Tomasso III, review of His Watchful Eye; (July 22, 2004) Phillip Tomasso III, review of Above All Earthly Powers.
MyShelf.com, http://www.myshelf.com/ (October 18, 2005), Renee Wampler, review of Songs in the Night.
Romantic Times Online, http://www.romantictimes.com/ (October 18, 2005), review of Death Watch.
Taylor University Web site, http://fw.taylor.edu/ (November 29, 2004), "Award Winning Author, Jack Cavanaugh, Is Guest Instructor."