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Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton Paperback – January 4, 2011

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson (January 4, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1595552014
  • ISBN-13: 978-1595552013
  • Product Dimensions: 7.9 x 5.3 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 10.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #342,902 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Regardless of theological bias, no one can help being charmed by the writings of G.K. Chesterton. His Father Brown mysteries, as well as his many works of theology and literary criticism, shine with wit and insight. Belmonte approaches his task of biography with the same fondness for his subject as he demonstrated in William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity. Reading this is a bit like taking a tour of literary and social England through the eyes of a man who lived, and loved, the world around him. And even as we read H.L. Mencken™s barbed comments about Chesterton and Chesterton™s assessment of George Bernard Shaw (œthree of the more incandescent minds of the era), we get lost in an earlier time and world taken with Chesterton™s undeniable brilliance. The articulate Belmonte makes his material sing. Chesterton was that rarity of a man: a convert to Catholicism, whose life can be celebrated by an evangelical publisher. A wonderful book on all counts. (Jan.)
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About the Author

Kevin Belmonte holds a BA in English Literature and two MA's in Church History and American and New England studies. He is the author of several books including William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity and winner of the prestigious John Pollock Award for Christian Biography.

More About the Author

Kevin Belmonte holds a B.A. in English Literature from Gordon College, an M.A. in Church History from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and a second master's degree in American and New England Studies from the University of Southern Maine (Portland). His first biography, William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity, received the prestigious John Pollock Award for Christian Biography and has been taught as part of a course on leadership and character formation at The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. For six years, Belmonte served as the lead historical consultant for the motion picture Amazing Grace.

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Customer Reviews

I was not required to write a positive review.
In Defiant Joy, Kevin Belmonte provides a biography of the great, late G.K. Chesterton, the ultimate Renaissance man and thinker and writer of the early 20th century.
Jennifer D
Maybe he could have just written a little bit on the dust cover of one of Chesterton's books... now I'm just ranting.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By Jordan M. Poss VINE VOICE on January 13, 2011
Format: Paperback
I was pleasantly surprised a few days ago when I spotted this book in a store. I've read dozens of G.K. Chesterton's books, including his Autobiography, but had never read an actual biography of the man before. When I saw that the author was Kevin Belmonte, a name I was familiar with from the Christian Encounters series of short biographies, I snapped the book up. I'm sad to say it wasn't good. A passage from H.L. Mencken, quoted by Belmonte, is perhaps the best summary of what's wrong with Defiant Joy: "If you approach [this book] as biography, you will find it amazing in the things it contains and irritating beyond measure in the things it doesn't contain."

When I think of what the book does contain, the first thing that jumps to mind is block quotations. I remember many admonitions in college writing courses to use block quotations sparingly--if you must. I never questioned this advice but never knew how bad they could make a book, and this book is packed with them. There is almost one per page. I'd guess that fully one third of the entire text is made of up block quotations from other works, some of them running over a page in length. By the end of the book there are even block quotations within block quotations. Belmonte didn't write Defiant Joy, he constructed it around huge, undigested chunks of his source material. The result is that his book feels like a flimsy skeleton hung with flesh from other sources. There's hardly an original thought or sentence in the book, just connecting tissue.

The book also contains an incredible amount of redundancy. Belmonte repeats himself more times than I thought possible in a single book--and by "repeats himself," I mean he uses the same block quotations more than once, sometimes within a few pages of each other.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Braden E. Bost on May 3, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is sub-titled "The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton." The back cover starts out, "You may be aware that G. K. Chesterton authored influential Christian biographies and apologetics. But you may not know the larger-than-life Gilbert Keith Chesterton himself--not yet."

Nor will you after reading this book.

A good biography, upon its end, will have you walking away feeling like you really got to know the subject. I'm currently on the first page of the epilogue of "Defiant Joy" and I know a great deal about the content of his writings (including the ends and plot twists of books I have yet to get to), the historical figures which he studied, and a general idea of the critical praise he received during his life, but I know so little about Chesterton himself. This fact is enraging me.

I began to have a sneaking suspicion that something was "off" with "Defiant Joy" when the author, Kevin Belmonte, quoted a long passage from Chesterton's own autobiography and then another long passage from someone else's biography all within the first couple pages. "Does this guy not have any original insight? Can he not summarize?" So on it went, and we breezed through six chapters in under 60 pages, lightly touching on key biographical landmarks such as the death of Chesterton's older sister while in childhood and his dark spiritual days as an adolescent. We rush through all that "boring" stuff to get to talking about nearly every . . . one . . . of . . . his . . . essays . . . critiques . . . biographies . . . plays . . . and . . . novels. Chapter by chapter. I'm forcing myself through excerpts from his books and from published reviews on his books all in hopes of getting some insight into Chesterton the man. Those insights are few and far between.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Andrew on January 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
Defiant Joy is what I would call an exhaustive summary, two words that seem to contradict each other. Kevin Beltmore moves from phase to phase in G.K. Chesterton's life at an astonishing speed. Each chapter is covered rapidly, with some of his great works receiving very little attention. It's my opinion that the author took a life that couldn't be recorded in 100 books and tried to shove it all into 281 pages. I felt the book read very slow and was borderline boring.

With that said, I believe the author's intention was to pay tribute to the life of Chesterton, and that really did shine through. But, in order for a biography to be effectively readable I think the author must take into consideration that people are reading about the author, not reading the author's work. I felt this piece was more focused on quoting Chesterton than weaving the story of the man's life.

I would not recommend this book to anyone to read. I think you learn more about G.K. Chesterton by reading his actual books than you do reading this biography. All-in-all it was not the worst book I have ever read, but it was definitely not the best.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com [...] book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 [...]: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
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