Thursday, September 27, 2018

"A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and a Great War" by Joseph Laconte

Oh. My. Goodness.

You know how sometimes, lots of people tell you to read a book because they're sure you would love it, and so you find the book, and then you put off reading it for like a year because you're afraid you might not like it as much as they expect you to like it?

Or is that just me?

Anyway, that happened for me with this book, and it just goes to show you how foolish I can be sometimes.  Because this is a great book.

I've been gravitating toward books about WWI lately, I think.  Not intentionally, they just... keep cropping up.  I'm happy about this because I feel like I don't know enough about WWI, and this is all filling in a gap in my knowledge of world history.

ANYWAY!  I'm rambling today.  Sorry.  THIS book is fantastic.  It focuses chiefly on J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, as you may have guessed, especially their experiences as soldiers on the front lines during WWI and how those affected the rest of their lives.  Especially their literary lives, of course, since that's what most of us know Tolkien and Lewis for.  

But it doesn't stop with those two.  It shows, gently and persuasively, how the catastrophic destruction of that war caused millions of people to turn away from God and look to science and technology for their salvation here on earth.  And how that change in the world around them informed the things Tolkien and Lewis wrote about.

I learned so much from this book!  In fact, I told my husband he needs to read it too.  I'm confident he'll also find it fascinating.


(From my Instagram account.)

Particularly Good Bits:

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 (p. xvi).

If This was a Movie, I Would Rate It:  PG-13 for discussions of war-related violence, suicide, and so on.  No cursing or anything like that, just a lot about the realities and horrors of war.



This is my 13th book read and reviewed for the Mount TBR Reading Challenge 2018.



And this review is also part of my Tolkien Blog Party.  Tomorrow is the last day to enter the giveaway and the games, so if you haven't done so already, have at it!  I'll choose giveaway winners on Saturday, and post the game answers and scores too.

Finally, this is part of my continuing quest to read a goodly number of the books I've collected that have to do with Middle-earth and J.R.R. Tolkien, which I've dubbed My Years in Middle-earth.

27 comments:

  1. This is fantastic! Can't wait to read this book now! Wow, naturally I love Lewis and Tolkien but that perspective on WWI is amazing and very sad. I've been reading Tolkien related books and books friends have recommended myself lately :)

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    1. Lydia, I hope you can read this! It's an eye-opener, and no mistake.

      Never can read enough about things we love, right?

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    2. Thanks! Haha I love the Samwise reference :)

      Very true!

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  2. Hey, I have that book too! I got halfway when I first got it but I haven't picked it up since then... maybe it's time to finish it!

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    1. Fawnabelle, I though the second half, where he discussed the effects of the war instead of the war itself, was much more interesting than the first half. Definitely give it another go!

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  3. Eeee, yay!! I'm SO glad you liked it. I got soooo much from it, it just thrills me that you did, too. :)

    I think one of the biggest things I got from it, in fact, was a much better understanding of WWI. I don't know if this is accurate, but it seems to me that we in America hear a good bit more about WWII, and not much about WWI, so I had no idea that it was such a devastating conflict for Europe. So I'm really grateful for that information.

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    1. Olivia, yes! It was reeeeeeeeeeeeeally good.

      I agree. WWII is a "happier" war, in that good and evil feel pretty clear-cut in it, so it gets written/talked about more. And the US was involved in it a lot longer. So yes, this was great for getting more familiar with WWI.

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  4. I think one of the most interesting things about Tolkien was his friendship with C.S. Lewis. I see Lewis as a much more sophisticated, worldly person, and someone who brought a dazzling wit to a lot of his creations, and Tolkien as a more clumsy don in his tweeds, probably covered in biscuit crumbs, who nevertheless wrote about this hugely developed world thanks to, ironically, his obscure scholarly interests.

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    1. John Smith, yes. Opposites often attract for friendships, don't they?

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  5. I'm so glad you enjoyed this book, Hamlette! I haven't read it yet, but I'm particularly excited to start it soon. (About to send you an email further elaborating on this - it'd be quite the novel if I commented here. :-))

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    1. Thanks, Claire! I look forward to reading your email :-) I hope you can get to this book soon -- it's stellar.

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  6. I actually am currently reading this! It is an amazing book. :)

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    1. Kendra Lynne, how cool is that! It is such a rewarding book.

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    1. Skye, it's excellent! Really makes the war feel immediate and relevant, which I was not expecting.

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  8. This, for months, maybe even a year, has been on my list of library books to check out. I guess I'd better prioritize it! (Maybe I'll read it in November to commemorate 100 years since the armistice...)

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    1. Justice, I LOVE the idea of reading it in November to commemorate the armistice! Why didn't I think of that??? Oh, I might just have to read it all over again or something.

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  9. I'm so happy you enjoyed it! It's such a deep and thought-provoking book.

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  10. This sounds really interesting! Added to my list.

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  11. Wow, this sounds great! And my library has it, too - awesome. It's going on my list. :D

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    1. Gabby A -- hurrah for your library! I had to buy a copy because mine doesn't have it.

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  12. This book has been on my to-read list for quite some time, but now I'm even more eager to read it! It sounds like a very interesting read. The WWI-era is one that I'd also like to learn more about, as it always seemed to be skimmed over in school (at least in my experience.) :)

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    1. Molly Rebekah, it's a very readable, approachable book, and so insightful. Like you, my schooltime always seemed light on WWI history, so I'm working to rectify that when I can.

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