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Old Thunder: A Life of Hilaire Belloc Hardcover – January 28, 2004


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press; First Edition edition (January 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898709423
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898709421
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.2 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,210,985 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Joseph Pearce is the author of many books, including Small is Still Beautiful, Solzhenitsyn, and Tolkien: Man and Myth. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

61 of 62 people found the following review helpful By Meredith on March 16, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I am 17 years old, and I had just discovered Belloc (in The Path to Rome - lucky me!) when my grandma gave me this biography for Christmas. So it was all news to me; I've never read another biography of him. I loved all the quotes and anecdotes, and the prose is outstanding. It was often very sad, especially towards the end...
Here I have to say something about the reviewer who gave it two stars. I understand his feelings, I think, but his view of history is somewhat distorted: I'm sure he'd agree that the Catholic Reformation and Counter-Reformation were even more energetic with "intelligence and activity" than the Catholic Revival - with all of the saints, missionaries, scholars, artists and composers who worked to bring Europe and all the world to Christ. That said, the Catholic revival (literary and otherwise) was a unique and exhilarating period in the Church. It was not a "last twitching" before a "long decline" - the revival began in the early 19th century and continued about 60 years into the 20th. The decline was not long and slow but sudden and catastrophic - it has been going about 35 years. Every empirically measurable statistic in the 20th cen. Church - Mass attendance, vocations, converts, belief in key doctrines, etc. - shows either a high, constant rate or a steady upward trend - until the 1960's, when there is a sudden, almost exponential drop. The Church just hits a wall. It can't be wholy blamed on "sex, drugs, and rock 'n roll"; there is no equivalent collapse in Protestant denominations. Everything was just different after the council and the new Mass and all that. It's a good thing that Belloc didn't have to see this - it would have broken his heart. On the other hand, we need his fighting spirit now more than ever...
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By david l archer on January 5, 2003
Format: Hardcover
For Catholic Converts, "Old Thunder" is a must read. I am certain it is not the most well researched nor scholarly work on Belloc or the period of Catholic literary rennasaince. But as an introduction to the period and the players it is an excellent book.
Historians and biographers such as Joseph Pearce seem to be held in low regard by their peers. Nonetheless, in bringing charaters such as Belloc to the less well read they are invaluable.
The value of this book is also multiplied by Mr. Pearce's prose. Few writers of non-fiction are so preasurable to read. Old Thunder is an extraordinary biography.
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21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Hunter Baker on February 21, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Joseph Pearce has carved out a niche for himself as the primary biographer of Catholic Literary Greats. His volumes on Chesterton, Tolkien, and other literary figures are well worth reading. Although he has written of Hillaire Belloc in many of his other works, "Old Thunder" finally gives Belloc his due. The man who is remembered by many as a writer of children's verse is revealed to us as a powerhouse of journalism, fiction, and poetry. At the same time, we see a man of intense Catholic piety and devotion making his way through struggles with finances and the early loss of his greatly beloved wife.
If you enjoy literary biography, you'll find Pearce is a master. Jump in with "Old Thunder" and make the rounds through all of Pearce's work.
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19 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 27, 2002
Format: Hardcover
An interesting, engaging, and important read for all orthodox Roman Catholics. Hilaire Belloc was, in his day, an incomparable Defender of the Faith; he continues, almost 50 years after his death, to instruct and inspire, and is worthy of emulation.
The book is well-written and well-researched. It's occasionally a bit too much by-the-numbers, and declines somewhat toward the end, mirroring the decline of Belloc (one gets the impression that Joseph Pearce began to lose interest in Belloc as his subject's life entered its final and least interesting phase).
I think that, overall, Old Thunder would be pleased with "Old Thunder".
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