West, Robert. (2010) Christian Encounters: Saint Francis. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson.
A few months ago Thomas Nelson publishing sent me a copy of Robert West’s mini-biography on Francis of Assisi aptly titled Saint Francis. I have interest in Francis for a few reasons: (1) he was a peace-maker; (2) he was a friend of the poor; (3) he was a proto-ecotheologian; (4) he climbed down the very ladder most people are trying to ascend being that he came from a wealthy family only to seek a life of poverty; (5) he is all these things and many more than I am not!
West’s book is not in-depth. It reads very friendly. There are a few notes for each chapter but they are stashed away in the very back. Since it is not an “academic” work in how it reads I doubt anyone will be too upset that the notes are not embedded in the flow of the narrative.
The structure is based on various epics of his life totaling eighteen chapters at two hundred and twenty-one pages. By far my favorite story of Francis is his mediating work during the the fifth Christian crusade where he went to the Muslim sultan to offer a branch of peace while also preaching Christ to his demanding conversion. This imagery of Francis may be what I find most endearing about the saint.
If you want a well-written, well-researched biography on Francis that is easy reading this is a great choice.