The first biography of David from a purely historical perspective reveals not a hero but a holy terrorist and a ruthless despot.
The story of David in this book is in a sense quite negative in that David is portrayed as a power hungry person. However to me it made him more real. I certainly have not my sense of grandeur in David. Some of his explanations somehow appear to be pretty weak. But he does present his evidence but that is not the writers fault as much as the lack of historical information.
He does leave us with a bad taste to the writer of the bible who he states "is trying to promote or excuse David". This may be true because we really do not know very much about who the writers were or there motives.
It well written and I would recommend this book to you.
This is a smart assumption but the suspicious reading it generates results in a biography of David that would make Ken Starr's portrait of Bill Clinton look like a panegyric. The only virtue McKenzie can allow David is that of being an effective guerrilla warrior because, if he hadn't been, he couldn't have reached the throne in the first place. The rest of the story is viewed as pro-David propaganda. If the story tells us that David spared the life of the worthless Nabal and that Nabal subsequently died of natural causes, it means that this is the cover story and that David must have killed him or had him killed.
The problem for the reader comes when you ask if there is any way David could have had any attractive qualities. Given the way McKenzie reads Samuel, the nice things that are said about David must be spin, and the nasty facts reported about David (and there are plenty of them, including his adultery with Bathsheba, his inability to control his sensual and ambitious children, his vindictiveness against political enemies) are facts too well known to be denied. Given McKenzie's method, David simply cannot have done anything right.
The fact is that, like almost every figure in the Bible, David's life exists in the text and only there. There aren't any alternative witnesses to who he was and what he did. The story in the book of Samuel contains all we are ever likely to know about David, and any method that insists on reading past the story to the REAL David is going to come up either with a panegyric or a lampoon, depending on how suspicious a method of reading it adopts.
But the book of Samuel itself is far more complex than any of these simplifying readings. It presents a warrior and a king who was decidedly human--sometimes all too human--and depicts his world with a richness of texture that lawyer's briefs, like McKenzie's, are necessarily going to flatten out. McKenzie's book will be useful if it makes readers turn back to Samuel and read it closely and attentively, but the story it tells is a prosecutorial brief that, seen against its source, seems thin and unconvincing.