@Epub ⚶ A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War Î eBook or E-pub free

I ve read bundles of fiction and nonfiction books on World War II, but not World War I How did fascism, Nazism, communism, and eugenics take root after WWI Why did people support narcissistic leaders that became despots that ruled in terror and greed creating violent totalitarian governments as their unchecked powers grew year after year According to Joseph Loconte the reason lies in the results of one of the most violent and devastating wars WWI Loconte shows how WWI was so savage that not only were 16 million people killed, but those that survived were disillusioned and cynical, rejecting the current government, politics, religion, and spiritual morality In the midst of this postwar malaise, J.R.R Tolkien and C.S Lewis rejected the literary trends and wrote books in response to the spiritual crisis plaguing their country They resurrected the medieval myth creating epic worlds torn apart by war and suffering and filled with flawed heroes embracing the traits of sacrifice, valor, and friendship as they struggle with good and evil.The first part of Loconte s book focuses on the history of WWI and the climate before, during, and after the war The Myth of Progress was the prevailing belief before the war that the industrial revolution, Darwin s theory of evolution, breakthroughs in medicine and inventions meant that the human condition could be explained by science and technology at the expense of spiritual morality The belief was that progress was so great under a liberal democracy that all countries should have it and many believed God had chosen them and would bless them as they went to war Britain, England, and Germany thought this way The church declared a holy war and made it one not of justice, but righteousness The problem was the focus on human achievement meant the subversion of moral obligations and human dignity Atrocities were committed with no thought of right or wrong or the moral implications on the individual Eugenics promoted a pure race that hid those considered flawed away from the public eye Society embraced collectivism over individualism and people rationalized cruel and violent actions For Lewis and Tolkien this was an affront on human dignity and character.Tolkien and Lewis wrote epic tales about war based in the fantasy genre, but realistic in their portrayal of war and its savagery and suffering Both men were drafted into the army Tolkien fought in the Battle of the Somme, one of the bloodiest battles in modern warfare, where almost 60,000 men died Lewis turned 19 and ended up on the Western Front in a trench When his sergeant was killed by mortar, Lewis took shrapnel one so close to his heart it could not be removed All of their close friends were killed When the two met at Oxford their war experiences, literary tastes, and friendship grew to the point that Tolkien was critical in Lewis conversion to Christianity and Tolkien said he would have not finished Lord of the Rings without Lewis critiques and support Neither writers glorify war in their books and both create flawed characters that need support from others or a higher being on their quests Postwar Europe had a plethora of antiwar literature yet, these two men created works rooted in medieval literature and while critics call it escapism and a nostalgia for the past, Loconte proves that it is a realistic portrayal of being in the trenches and a look at the human condition The recurring theme of the desire for power and domination over others disguised under the umbrella of religion and morals is found in both works Loconte expounds on literary themes toward the latter part of the book getting into specific examples The heroes in their works is the result of great characters who put others needs ahead themselves WWI robbed people of their humanity The trenches, the Battle of the Somme, the razing of nature and towns left people feeling helpless and caught in a big machine that they had no control over Almost every family lost someone in the war A fatalism and moral demise left people apathetic and feeling that they had no choices or free will in their lives Tolkien and Lewis wanted to awaken the noble spirit in people like the medieval myths of old such as Beowulf, King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table, or the Icelandic sagas They created works that showed the violence and suffering of war, but also the compassion, courage, and sacrifice of others for a good cause Their stories show that life is a moral contest It is the responsibility of the individual to resist evil and not one person can resist the corruption of power That is the tragic flaw in humans that even the purest of heart such as Frodo cannot resist the desire to dominate It takes an outside force to check that desire and in Frodo s case, even someone as twisted as Gollum is not beyond redemption Lewis is showing at the end of his book that there can be no heaven on Earth as the Pevensie s step through a door into Narnia like Heaven Loconte ties this to the pitfalls of liberal democracy and the desire of the church and state to create a heaven on Earth before WWI While this is too complex to write about in a review it is a fascinating comparison between the Narnia and Lord of the Rings books and WWI These two men ignored the trends of the times because they were inspired and saw in the midst of violence, heroic individuals on the battlefields of France They saw soldiers going back to help another injured comrade at the risk of being killed themselves The Hobbit is the ordinary British soldier The British army showed remarkable resistance in the war They didn t run away or lose their moral fortitude Reepicheep shows the greatest valor on the battlefield He is the smallest and supposedly the weakest but he rises above himself and shows great courage Same with Frodo, Sam, Aragon, and Loconte explores these characters proving his point and showing the importance of reluctant allies uniting in fellowship and friendship by the end, just like soldiers Tolkien and Lewis met one to two times a week for 16 years with a group called, Inklings They had their own fellowship of the ring.Loconte points out how today the modern superhero saves the day on his or her own strength Tolkien and Lewis create heroes that cannot save the day and prevail against evil on their own They are destined to fail and they know it is a doomed quest It is this tragic mix of good and evil that makes the story so powerful because their only rescue can be by grace and redemption from an outside force The heroes know they will die in both books Frodo when destroying the ring and the Pevensie s when they enter the stable Loconte shows how this parallels war and the soldiers plight The soldier knows he will die At the Battle of the Somme it was a slaughter yet, the men kept coming out of the trenches toward the enemy The books ends with hope that there is goodness in humans That the shadow of sin and suffering can be lifted from people s lives That the Great War will be won, but not on Earth because the human condition is a mix of sin and free will. Many years ago I fell down the WWI rabbit hole and I still wander there frequently Recently I took another plunge with A World Undone by G.J Meyer and this excellent little book This book referred to many of the books and authors I had already read so it was like visiting old friends This is an easy conversational read. @Epub ⛈ A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War Õ The Untold Story Of How The First World War Shaped The Lives, Faith, And Writings Of J R R Tolkien And C S LewisThe First World War Laid Waste To A Continent And Permanently Altered The Political And Religious Landscape Of The West For A Generation Of Men And Women, It Brought The End Of Innocence And The End Of Faith Yet For J R R Tolkien And C S Lewis, The Great War Deepened Their Spiritual Quest Both Men Served As Soldiers On The Western Front, Survived The Trenches, And Used The Experience Of That Conflict To Ignite Their Christian Imagination Had There Been No Great War, There Would Have Been No Hobbit, No Lord Of The Rings, No Narnia, And Perhaps No Conversion To Christianity By C S LewisUnlike A Generation Of Young Writers Who Lost Faith In The God Of The Bible, Tolkien And Lewis Produced Epic Stories Infused With The Themes Of Guilt And Grace, Sorrow And Consolation Giving An Unabashedly Christian Vision Of Hope In A World Tortured By Doubt And Disillusionment, The Two Writers Created Works That Changed The Course Of Literature And Shaped The Faith Of Millions This Is The First Book To Explore Their Work In Light Of The Spiritual Crisis Sparked By The Conflict With this book, Professor Loconte, looks at the friendship between C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien, how their experience in the Great War influenced their masterpieces and as a bonus how the ideals of the society in which they were raised motivated them and the contemporaries to willingly join the military and go to the meat grinder that was the Western Front He also explores how that experience affected the post war society.Professor Loconte first looks at Tolkien and his experiences While he didn t volunteer for the Army, he willing went when he was called up He arrived in France just in time for the slaughter that was the Somme and his unit joined the offensive on the 3rd day After telling us of his war time experience, the author looks at how the must have affected his writing Much of this comes from his own letters and diaries, but there is some speculation For example he quotes Tolkien as saying, the character of the hobbit was a reflection of the ordinary soldier, steadfast in his duties while suffering in the dreary hole in the ground The author speculates the much of the feeling of the battle sequences in Lord to the Rings LOTR must have come for his experiences on the Somme, but does not offer any direct quotes for that.In discussing Lewis experience, Prof Loconte looks as his journey from Atheism to Christianity Unlike Tolkien who was and remained a practicing Catholic, Lewis entered the war a confirmed atheist According to the author, by the time he returned from France, he was at least an agnostic and probably a deist His journey to becoming a Christian is told and as is Tolkien s role in it.The author looks at the Christian themes in both of their masterpieces While Narnia s Christian s theme are widely acknowledged, those in LOTR, to my knowledge, are not In exploring the Christain themes in LOTR the author identifies several These include good vs evil, the idea that there is someone watching over us, and that we must have help in overcoming evil among others He also looks at the idea that is something bigger than the individual that is worth fighting for Prof Loconte says the whole idea of the fellowship of the ring is a prime example In addition the author looks as Tolkien and Lewis concept of heroism and how it is depicted in their works.While discussing how the war affected the two men and their writing, the author contrasts and compares them with some of their contemporaries, including Siegfried Sassoon, Wilfred Owen and Robert Graves All of whom took a different path in their spiritual journey than Tolkien and Lewis In exploring their paths, Prof Loconte looks at the affect the War had on Christianity and the elite s, especially the literary circle s relationship to it.The author gave a presentation on it that was televised on BookTV that in many ways better than the bookhttp www.c span.org video 326885 1All in all I enjoyed this book, but I thought it was too short less than 200 pages and at times had an academic feel For these reasons I would give it a 3.75 rounded up for good reads. The Great War shattered the complacency of the West Flanders Fields exploded the myth of Progress, that strange concatenation of Technological and Social Darwinism, of Social Gospel and Hard Science Dissolution, disillusionment, irony, absurdity, and even worse, ideologies followed It needs no ghost come from the grave to tell us this But what has long been noteworthy, if noted little and explored less, is that Tolkien and Lewis are very much WWI writers, too They fought and feared, suffered illness and wounds, saw horrors, lost a generation of friends, just as Owen, Sassoon, Blunden, Graves, and so many others did and just as those others did, they, too, went off to war thinking of their homeland, not in terms of factories and swollen cities, but of the shires and the countryside Yet they, as the title of this book suggests, did not suffer the same despair and disillusionment instead they found the stuff of hope and recovery I regret to say, however, that Professor Loconte s book does not succeed as well as it might have done in explaining how this came to be soThe first difficulty we encounter is that the author is quite often simply wrong On page 9, the Ents are said to be marching off to attack, not Saruman, but Sauron A slip of the pen perhaps, as might easily occur in haste, but usually caught in proof On page 22 we have serious errors The author mistakes Frodo s vision of Bilbo as a little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands FR 2.i.232 for reality, as if Bilbo were actually momentarily distorted by his lust for the Ring That s Peter Jackson s scene, not Tolkien s Bilbo no turns into Gollum here than Sam becomes an orc under similar circumstances in The Tower of Cirith Ungol RK 6.i.911 12 Both of these scenes show what the Ring is doing to Frodo, making him see those he loves as monsters after his Ring. Now even if this error were merely a matter of interpretation, the other mistake on page 22 is not The author quotes from The Magician s Nephew, as anyone even modestly familiar with The Chronicles of Narnia will recognize I ve read them only once but he claims it s The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe Using the single volume edition of Narnia, which arranges the novels by internal chronology rather than in order of publication, Loconte fails to note the title of the novel written plainly at the top of the page To this we may compare pages 147 48 where, quoting the same passage from The Magician s Nephew, the author confuses Digory and Polly, the children of this novel, with the Pevensie children of the other Narnia tales.On page 29 both Tolkien and Lewis are said to have been drafted, but they enlisted as is later noted for Lewis on page 31 On page 30 Loconte states that Lewis attended Cherbourg School in Malvern, arriving in 1914, but Lewis went there for only one year hated it and 1914 was the year he left On 82 Lewis is said to have been reading E.R Eddison in or around 1916, but Eddison s first work to be publicly circulated appeared in 1922 On page 143 we learn that The Fellowship of the Ring first appeared in 1955, not 1954 On page 135 we learn, further, that Bilbo is a small half elf creature And page 65 informs us that The Lord of the Rings is a war trilogy, which joins the dubious to the incorrect.On page 118 the author seems unaware of the difference between The Book of Lost Tales and The Silmarillion He speaks of The Fall of Gondolin, written by Tolkien during the war and incorporated into The Book of Lost Tales, but he quotes the much later and briefer version from The Silmarillion On page 121 he removes all doubt about his confusion By 1923, Tolkien had nearly completed The Book of Lost Tales what he would later call The Silmarillion I can only question whether the author has read The Book of Lost Tales On page 135 Loconte quotes Tolkien s account of Lewis statement that i f they won t write the kind of books we want to read we shall have to write them ourselves But in the very next line he makes it sound as if this statement predates the writing of The Hobbit by quite some time Eventually they made good on the pledge Tolkien began The Hobbit emphasis mine In fact Tolkien had finished writing The Hobbit by early 1933, and the evidence suggests that Lewis made his statement closer to 1936 Moreover, Tolkien and Lewis were talking about novels of time travel and space travel, and the books they decided to write became The Lost Road and Out of the Silent Planet Tolkien, Letters, nos 257 and 294 The Lost Road, 7 8 Rateliff, The History of the Hobbit 2011 p xxii The Hobbit has nothing to do with this statement.What is regrettable is that by confusing The Silmarillion and The Book of Lost Tales Loconte deprives us of the primary texts most necessary for studying Tolkien s immediate response to the war As he himself points out 118 119 , Tolkien later saw the writing of The Book of Lost Tales as therapeutic In 1944 in a letter to his son, Christopher, then in the RAF, he encouraged him to write about what he was going through I sense among all your pains a desire to express your feeling about good, evil, fair, foul in some way to rationalize it, and prevent it from festering In my case it generated Morgoth and the History of the Gnomes Letters, no 66, emphasis original What better place could there have been to begin an exploration of Tolkien s reaction to the war, and what lessons could we have derived from a study of these writings side by side with those of his contemporaries, like Sassoon and Owen, who saw and felt the same horror but fell instead into bitterness and despair Here is the beginning of the road that leads to The Lord of the Rings, but we do not get to walk it And, from this perspective, would not Graves Good Bye to All That 1929 , and Claudius novels 1934 35 have made for interesting points of comparison on the way to The Lord of the Rings Yet we jump straight to the end of this road, and a Tolkien who had had twenty to thirty years to reflect upon and come to understand his youthful experiences As for what comes in between, The Book of Lost Tales is lost indeed, the World War One poets are scanted, and we receive background and generalizations about Tolkien s generation drawn from secondary sources.To be fair Loconte is better on Lewis, making , but not always better, use of his letters, his diaries, and his early poetry One of those letters, which he quotes p 116 , reveals another missed opportunity for discussing Lewis alongside the World War One writers Commenting in 1923 on a tormented fellow veteran who had just died, Lewis wrote i sn t it a damned world and we once thought we could be happy with books and music Now here is a sentiment with which to begin an examination of the despair and lost illusions of this world after 1918 It would likely be far easier to make the connections between his early poems, letters, and so on, and those of the World War One writers, since the gap in genre isn t as great as it is with The Book of Lost Tales The analysis of Lewis would have facilitated that of Tolkien in this regard.All good interpretations of literature, all good reconstructions of history, rest ultimately on the details that support the arguments advanced by the author In any work that seeks to combine the literary and the historical an even greater care with the details is essential More variables require rigor and restraint In this book so many errors present themselves ranging from simple, easily verifiable dates gotten wrong, to simple facts of the stories gotten wrong half elf , to the confusion of different works of the very authors who are the subjects of this study that faith in what Professor Loconte has to say requires a very willing suspension of disbelief Yet the questions he raises here about Lewis and Tolkien in the context of World War One and its literary and spiritual aftermath are valid, important questions From them we can learn much not only about Lewis and Tolkien, but by reflection about their contemporaries, about the times in which they all lived, as well as about the times of those of us still within the Great War s shadow. With the exception of the Bible, no book s has impacted my life like The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the seven books of the Narnia series C.S Lewis had a strong stance on stories fantasy in particular If the literature is good, it will also tell a story to adults and true characteristics of real life will be paralleled in the characters struggles of the novel Obviously Lewis and Tolkien did this, arguably, better than any other authors before or after I loved this book for the backstory it provided Parallels between their life experiences in the trenches and their novels made sense in ways I never caught before I loved finding out that Tolkien wrote Samwise Gamgee to honor the privates and batmen that served under him when he was an officer they were the true heroes Lewis wrote Peter s fight with the wolf to mimic his first foray into battle Tolkien most identified with hobbits and Faramir in that he had no love for war He also hated machinery destroying the beautiful greenery of his country That said, much of the book read like a history book with very little mention of the two authors Worth reading, but it barely scratched the surface of the lives and relationship between the two men I think I m also going to look for some biographies I d rate this book a PG 13 for strong war time images and accounts of gore and violence. I ll admit I know shockingly little about WWI Like many a teenage girl, I went through a season where I read all the WWII fiction I could get my hands on but I never was all that interested in completing my knowledge of history I found this book fascinating I knew very little of the WWI history that Loconte recounts in the first few chapters and only had the merest outline of C.S Lewis and J.R.R Tolkien s biographies from that era I love books like this where the author has done a great deal of research can retell the great themes of that research with clarity and interest I especially found myself captivated by the chapter That Hideous Strength, as he recalled how the great themes of the Great War informed Lewis and Tolkien s understanding of how evil works Not many sign up to do great evil, they simply long for power expedience, and think they can use evil without being mastered by it Loconte shows how the moral lessons they learned in war informed the stories they both created I think he nails exactly what makes these stories so compelling to readers None of the characters is above the deceptive allure of power 160 Each character is a moral agent vulnerable to temptation and corruption 164 but nonetheless given responsibility to make choices that will affect the fates of those around them These are not larger than life heroes conquering by the sheer force of their will, but hobbits modeled after ordinary Englishmen and children who have to make choices that really do matter What each man experienced during war adds ballast to the moral weight of their stories. For a certain group, JRR Tolkien and CS Lewis are such a part of the literary, imaginative, and spiritual landscape that their insights are taken for granted The timeless qualities of their work have divorced it from any consideration of the time in which the two men lived and wrote Familiarity has bred contempt What Joseph Loconte attempts in A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War is to place Tolkien and Lewis firmly back into their historical context, to throw their work into relief by looking at the world in which they wrote Central to all of this is the war.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 He draws examples of how these young men reacted from classic sources like Robert Graves, Wilfred Owen, Siegfried Sassoon, Ernst J nger, and Erich Maria Remarque Their testimonials demonstrate the way the war cruelly, almost mechanically, ground down the spirits of the men sent into its trenches.Tolkien and Lewis both suffered Tolkien served on the Somme, one of the notorious meat grinders of the war, and was eventually invalided out of the fight Lewis arrived later and, despite distinguished service including the capture of a number of German prisoners, was also wounded and spent months in hospital, out of the action This experience was, for both of them as for many others, a source of bonding after the war References to it in their letters and papers are numerous it formed part of a shared vocabulary that informed and gave body to their imaginations Loconte does an excellent job of demonstrating this by drawing on their writings, not just well known works like The Hobbit or The Chronicles of Narnia, but their academic work, letters, and diaries I have to admit that I was skeptical about some of this at first, as a few of the examples seemed to be little than superficial comparisons of events in, for example, The Lord of the Rings to conditions on the Somme But Loconte digs deep and provides explicit comparisons from the writers themselves Tolkien is particularly forthcoming about the influence of the war on his fiction My Sam Gamgee is indeed a reflection of the English soldier, of the privates and batmen I knew in the 1914 war, and recognized as so far superior to myself xvii And again, The Dead Marshes owe something to Northern France after the Battle of the Somme 74 But beyond simply providing inspiration for specific scenes or landscapes in their work, the war gave Tolkien and Lewis thematic material, friendship, loss, and the desperate courage that makes up real heroism foremost among them Both men lost friends in the war Virtually the entirety of a prewar club to which Tolkien had belonged was killed off one by one in the fighting Lewis saw an older sergeant, a man who had become almost like a father to the young officer, senselessly killed in what may have been a friendly fire incident Like Tolkien, he lost many of his school friends and fellow officers as well Nearly all my friends in the Battalion are gone 99 100 It was well after the war in the quiet environs of Oxford that Tolkien and Lewis met and formed their famous friendship Under the influence of Tolkien and others, Lewis by now an agnostic moved to a vague theism and finally Christianity It was this friendship that made both men so productive and gave the world their still beloved and timeless work.Loconte s book has two great strengths First, it vividly depicts the reality of World War I combat in general and the actions in which Tolkien and Lewis were involved specifically I ve read a number of biographies of both men, and they tend to skimp on detail about their combat experience I assume this is because most of these bios were written by literary scholars in addition to being a fan of Tolkien and Lewis, I m a military historian, so this book scratched an itch I ve been feeling for a while Like the rest of their generation, Tolkien and Lewis were shaped in profound ways by the horror of the war, and Loconte does an excellent job of showing that.Second, the focus in the early portions of the book on the world before the war, and the comparison of Tolkien and Lewis s experiences to those of others of their generation, makes their work fresh again Loconte shows just how countercultural these familiar men really were, moving against the intellectual, social, and spiritual currents of their day scientism, chronological snobbery, and the denial of goodness, heroism, and truth Their works aren t relevant or timeless because they appeal to a generic Christian audience, their work is timeless because they were men who looked outside their ruined generation for the eternal and did their best to reflect that back into the world through the imagination.This, to me, is the central insight of Loconte s book, and that alone makes it well worth reading A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War is an excellent introduction to an often overlooked aspect of the lives of two literary and intellectual giants and their place in history.Highly recommended. This is a fascinating look at the experiences of two young men in WWI and how it affected their writing, their faith and their spiritual quest J.R.R.Tolkien and C.S.Lewis first met at Oxford in 1926, but they shared an experience of the Great War which deepened their friendship Although I have read Tolkien s biography, I knew very little about C.S Lewis and I found this a really illuminating read Both men grew up in a time that believed deeply in science and the myth of progress It was also a time where religious faith was very much linked with patriotism and a sense of duty.By 1916, Churchill warned against, futile offensives that would kill thousands of young men However, plans were drawn up to take pressure off the French and hopefully achieve a breakthrough The Battle of the Somme permanently altered Tolkien s life By the end of the day there were 19,420 British soldiers killed among them was Rob Wilson member of the Tea Club and Barrovian Society, which Tolkien started with some close friends By the end of the war, Tolkien had lost many close friends, as had Lewis, and, in fact, while Tolkien was in hospital recovering from trench fever, his regiment sustained enormous casualties and, had he been on the front line, he probably would have been killed.Lewis went to war a little later than Tolkien and arrived at the front on his 19th birthday While Tolkien was a committed Catholic, Lewis was not a believer when he first joined up By 1918 he was injured by shrapnel and was sent home carrying a piece of shrapnel in his chest for the rest of his life and with most of his friends having been killed.The Great War saw a new type of warfare of science and technology devoted to annihilation The author explains how the terrible experiences both men faced changed them and how, out of the carnage they faced, came Narnia and the Lord of the Rings There is much about how Lewis became a Christian, how Lewis supported and encouraged Tolkien s writing and how their literary visions were sketched out with the backdrop of war I was interested to read, for example, how Tolkien imagined his hobbits to be small to show, the amazing and unexpected heroism of ordinary men, as he based them on the soldiers he came across in the trenches With a post war world looking to the extremes of communism and fascism for answers, the mythical quality of the writing of both Lewis and Tolkien is timeless and so, as they tried to both make sense of their experience and incorporate it into their writing, they created great works which are still inspirational today A well written and interesting book which helps explain how important their early experiences were to two great authors. A good book, but a number of flaws keep this from being a truly great book.The first is that there is simply not enough material about the war time experiences of Tolkien and Lewis to form the basis of solid book length treatment Secondly, the book is just riddled with minor errors that will be easily recognizable to any fan of the books, that somehow escaped the editor Usually these are in the form of misattributions and simple confusion and misidentification, but they are annoying especially when the author is using and perhaps over relying on the text of the books to prove his points Thirdly, the approach that the author gives to the text is far too loose for my tastes If you want to say that a piece of text relates to the author s war time experiences, I d prefer much solid evidence Fourthly, at least for my part, most of the book was well covered ground and well known to me The unusual focus on the little explored portion of Lewis and Tolkien s life proved mainly to instruct that it is little focused on because there is little definite to say about it Finally, this book is going to be really of no use whatsoever to a non Christian audience, as it is far too clear that the author is not merely a historian building a literary and historical case, but is also an evangelist that admires the works as sermons and wishes to expand upon them Even as a sympathetic ear that agrees that the books work as sermons, and has taught doctrine from them, this inability to choose between the unbiased voice of the historian and the passionate voice of the evangelist is a bit jarring.Still for all that, I can recommend the book to a limited audience of Christian readers that have some knowledge of the works but don t already have a lot of insight in to the minds of the authors who created them To them, it will likely be a revelation Even for someone like myself, who have read the works dozens of times, read all manner of unpublished notes by Tolkien, many books of literary criticism and interpretation of the works, and dug into the text in fandom circles to levels that will seem absurd to many, there were still occasionally unlooked for vistas which were like looking out on a well known valley from vantages you d never seen before.In particular, I was struck by Loconte s interpretation of the mindset of Tolkien after the great war that lead him to create his work The idea of Tolkien passing through the great war, seeing the broken state of his nation, weeping and then deliberately and consciously taking up the burden of healing his entire nation by bringing them a myth that reflected to them divine revelation just leaves me in renewed awe Who does that sort of thing Can you just conceive what the mind must be like that in the middle of its tears says, My nation is broken Their myths about themselves have deluded and failed them, and they have no stories of their own to fall back on I know, I ll give them a new story, a great story, a light to lead them out of this dark place My jaw hits the floor The vision of the Good Professor once again humbles all my understanding.It is easy to see why he is often imitated, quite often scorned, occasionally mocked, and yet no one has really come even close to equaling his work.