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What's Wrong with the World Paperback – October 1, 1994


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What's Wrong with the World + In Defense of Sanity: The Best Essays of G.K. Chesterton + Orthodoxy
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 204 pages
  • Publisher: Ignatius Press (October 1, 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0898704898
  • ISBN-13: 978-0898704891
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 5.2 x 7.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,009,910 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Gilbert Keith Chesterton (1874-1936) was one of the most influential English writers of the 20th century. His prolific and diverse output included journalism, philosophy, poetry, biography,Christian apologetics, fantasy and detective fiction. Chesterton has been called the "prince of paradox". Time magazine, in a review of a biography of Chesterton, observed of his writing style: "Whenever possible Chesterton made his points with popular sayings, proverbs, allegories-first carefully turning them inside out."For example, Chesterton wrote the following: Thieves respect property. They merely wish the property to become their property that they may more perfectly respect it. Chesterton is well known for his reasoned apologetics and even those who disagree with him have recognized the universal appeal of such works as Orthodoxy and The Everlasting Man. Chesterton, as a political thinker, cast aspersions on both liberalism and conservatism, saying: The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of the Conservatives is to prevent the mistakes from being corrected. Chesterton routinely referred to himself as an "orthodox" Christian, and came to identify such a position with Catholicism more and more, eventually converting to Roman Catholicism. George Bernard Shaw, Chesterton's "friendly enemy" according to Time, said of him, "He was a man of colossal genius". --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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In this sense Chesterton truly is a revolutionary conservative.
John A. Van Devender
In it, Chesterton addresses many big problems in the world of his time (and even more so, the world of today,) and comes to some very jarring conclusions about them.
K. Ostrowski
This flaw is oddly present in every Chesterton work I have ever read on any subject.
Luke Wayne

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

90 of 91 people found the following review helpful By jmk444 on March 14, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
These forty-nine essays first appeared in June of 1910 and though some of the subjects may seem a bit stodgy, the writing is still fresh and riveting and the insights are clear and powerful.
In fact, some of the moral issues are perhaps more vital today than they were in Chesterton's time. He seemed to foresee that the diminution of our moral standards would lead to the dehumanization of mankind, he foresaw woman's suffrage and the dangers of the burgeoning corporate oligarchy.
All of these essays are memorable, touched with Chesterton's often dazzling verbal legerdemain. In "The Insane Necessity," he writes, "...discipline means that in certain frightfully rapid circumstances, one can trust anybody so long as he is not everybody." There are so many memorable more, like "Oppression by Optimism," "The Unfinished Temple" and "Sincerity and the Gallows" that are each in their turn, breathtaking in both their focus and scope.
If you've never read G K Chesterton, this is a fine place to start and if you've read some of his other works and enjoyed them, you'll love this one.
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132 of 138 people found the following review helpful By Brad Shorr on November 30, 2003
Format: Library Binding Verified Purchase
One thing this book makes clear is that although the socio-political names change, the game remains the same. GK takes a hard look at what's wrong with England in 1910, and his diagnosis works just as well for America in 2003. GK rails against capitalism and socialism, for both philosophies are equally dehumanizing-capitalism excuses inhumanity as a cost of doing business; socialism seeks to redefine humanity by stripping away from us all that is human. Politicians, thinkers, and civic leaders on both ends of the spectrum flail away at social problems by attacking symptoms-poverty, homelessness, the role of women in society, disintegration of the family, unfruitful education-but consistently make the symptoms worse because they never see the underlying problem. What is the underlying problem? It is that our leaders no longer put the individual, which is human and therefore sacred, above the social organization, which is merely artificial and expendable. By dismissing the laws of God, we have nothing left but an anarchy of ideas. We have replaced one law of God with a thousand laws of social theory. GK shows how such an unfocused and confused approach has steadily worsened the plight of the poor, the family, the publicly educated man, etc., and predicts that Western social fabric will only unravel further, as long as we keep this up. Unfortunately for us, we have, and GK's predictions are correct.
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74 of 77 people found the following review helpful By DWD's Reviews VINE VOICE on October 24, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
G.K. Chesterton's "What's Wrong With the World" is not a bit of light reading. There are heady thoughts throughout and the reader is invited to do some of the heavy lifting as well. I don't agree with all of Chesterton's conclusions either but he does have a wonderful way with words. Have you ever had an argument with someone in which you thoroughly disagreed with some of their points but admired the way they laid them out and their turns of the phrase? That is my experience with G.K. Chesterton in a nutshell.

I only picked up this volume because I read somewhere that C.S. Lewis was a devoted fan of Chesterton.

Be prepared, there is no one thing that is wrong with the world - it is a collection of things. Of course, any thinking person knows that there are always a collection of problems that are inter-related and cause all sorts of things to be wrong in the world.

Chesterton is strongly pro-Catholic church so be prepared that one of the things wrong with the world is that the world is not Catholic. Being a Lutheran myself, I smiled and moved on. Women working outside of the home is a problem Chesterton identifies as well. Not because women are inferior (he reveres the housewife and acknowledges it is draining) but because the home is a special place if well-tended by an extraordinary women - a place where the family can actually be free of the demands of society and work. Plus, a homemaker is, by the very nature of the job, a skilled amateur that knows a little about "a hundred trades." Homemakers are not specialized and that is good in Chesterton's eyes.

Why is specialization a problem? People become experts in just one thing and don't learn about the rest of the world. Think of our modern college system.
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72 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Fred Shultz on November 23, 1999
Format: Paperback
This book is a dandy -- a little social commentary full of Chesterton's ever-so-fun-and-clever humor and incredible way of making you realize that the ways in which we humans think is often the exact opposite of what we ought to think. The content is, I suppose, a bit dated... it is intended for the turn-of-the-century (the last turn, not this one) English reader; as such, issues such as women's suffrage might appear to be entirely culturally irrelevant. If read in its historical context, however, it can function both as a history lesson and poignant (in its time) social commentary. And, needless to say, as with all truly good observations about something in the past, there is a good deal which is extremely pertinent to the current social condition... even in those things that might appear outmoded. A good read.
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