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A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War: How J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis Rediscovered Faith, Friendship, and Heroism in the Cataclysm of 1914-1918 Hardcover – June 30, 2015
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About the Author
Joseph Loconte is a Senior Research Fellow and Lecturer in Politics at The King’s College in New York City, where he teaches Western Civilization and U.S. foreign policy and writes widely about the importance of religious freedom in strengthening democracy, human rights, and civil society.
Top Customer Reviews
The two men, who became fast friends as professors at Oxford, would seem to have had little in common. Lewis was an Irishman of Ulster Protestant extraction and, by the time he went to war, a confirmed atheist. Tolkien was a devout cradle Catholic reared in England. For both men, the experience that most shaped them was the war.
Loconte begins the book by examining the world into which they were born and through which they approached the war. He gives time to explaining the Idea of Progress, the belief in the steady upward march of Europe’s scientific, enlightened culture, and its embodiment in social policies like eugenics. He looks into Freudian psychology and the marriage of the era’s Christianity to nationalism, a union that produced war fever and the demonization of the enemy. Scientific progress, the devaluation of human life, disregard for the soul and spirit, and the prostitution of religion to the nation combined to make World War I uniquely ferocious.
Into this war marched millions of young men, and Loconte by no means ignores the rest in his focus on Tolkien and Lewis.Read more ›
Tolkien and Lewis were attracted to the genres of myth and romance not because they sought to escape the world but because for them the real world had a mythic and heroic quality…In an era that exalted cynicism and irony, Tolkien and Lewis sought to reclaim and older tradition of the epic hero. Their depiction of the struggles of Middle-earth and Narnia do not represent a flight from reality, but rather a return to a more realistic view of the world as we actually find it.'
This is his evaluation of the character of these two friends and I believe him to be right.
I am a great fan of Tolkien and Lewis but I believe that this is a book well worth reading for anyone who enjoys history.
Loconte has crafted an excellent article that frankly was stretched too thin as a book. Bilbo's words ring true of this book. "I feel thin, sort of stretched, like butter scraped over too much bread."
The first third of the core of the book offers an overwhelming and sweeping look at European society before World War One in which Loconte tries to offer some background to Lewis, Tolkien and their created worlds. Loconte rarely relies on primary sources and too often simply quotes a far better known scholar (Barbara Tuchman, check; John Keegan, check; Niall Ferguson, check) before heading on to the next subject. After hitting readers over the head with his take on Darwinism and eugenics, Loconte then turns to religion and the war. How churches in England encouraged men to take up arms could certainly be relevant to a book on Lewis and Tolkien. But then Loconte takes the reader on how churches in America and Germany saw God’s hand in the war and even offers his take on how Germany was portrayed after its invasion of neutral Belgium. All of this would be fine in a look at the war as a whole but has nothing to do with the matter at hand: namely how World War One shaped the creation of Middle Earth and Narnia.
This breakneck pace and reliance on generalizations offer the reader more than a few pauses.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Did anyone else notice that Loconte quotes from The Magician's Nephew on page 22, but says that he is taking from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe? Read morePublished 11 days ago by Mason Hopkins
Very interesting book, different then I thought it would be, but worth the read.Published 15 days ago by CW
Super history lesson into the cultural changes preceding and following WWI and the impact on these two great writers. Super biographies with great historical context.Published 23 days ago by W. Dixon
It took a great war to make two great writers. The Great War was an end to the Victorian-Edwardian era. Read morePublished 26 days ago by alan j. greczynski
Aside from the books by Tolkien and Lewis themselves; this is an amazing addition to anyone's library. Read morePublished 27 days ago by Fiona McLeod
A book to show you and me, how C.S. Lewis and Mr. Tolkien be / Tried but not broke by the fires of war / And like gold beautifully refined / went on to show God's grace in products... Read morePublished 1 month ago by H. Law
This book covers a territory as vast as the Western Front with more purpose and clarity than that wicked war. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Patrick