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Publisher's Summary

The untold story of how the First World War shaped the lives, faith, and writings of J. R. R. Tolkien and C. S. Lewis.

The 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 Hobbits, no Lord of the Rings, no Narnia, and perhaps no conversion to Christianity by C. S. Lewis.

Unlike 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.

©2015 Joseph Loconte (P)2015 Thomas Nelson Publishers

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  • Zebedee
  • TUMWATER, WA, US
  • 03-10-17

Delivers what the title says.

This book was exactly what I wanted. It gives the reader both a broad overview and deep understanding of social and psychological thinking pre and post WWI and helps modern readers understand how radical Tolkien and Lewis were in their thinking when they created their most famed fantasy works. I highly recommend this book to Lewis and Tolkien fans who want to understand how WWI colored Narnia and Middle-Earth. Happy reading.

17 of 17 people found this review helpful

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  • Orson
  • Greensboro, NC, United States
  • 10-14-15

My Tolkien-Lewis students will read this book

Any additional comments?

I have taught a course in the fiction of Tolkien and Lewis for many years now, and while I encourage my students to read in the critical, historical, and biographical literature for class presentations and papers, it is only in reading A Hobbit, A Wardrobe and a Great War that I found a book that merits requiring ALL my students to read it in order to have a shared understanding of what the Inklings - indeed, friendship in general - meant to Tolkien and Lewis, and how they helped shape each other's lives and works.

28 of 29 people found this review helpful

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There some good tidbits and observations but...

I should say that there are some worthwhile bits in this book. The author is at his best when speculating on he impact Tolkien and Lewis' wartime experience might have had on their imagination when writing of struggle in their own books. Unfortunately the author seems far too invested in building a background narrative of Lewis and Tolkien as some sort of prophetic culture warriors to whom contemporary conservativism should look. The result is that he paints a half picture of both authors.
The narration was generally well done except that the narrator had some serious problems with his pronounciation.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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The First Fellowship

This book offers a fascinating look into the spiritual lives and developing theologies of J.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis both during and after WWI. Loconte makes a few logical leaps and assumptions about the authors, but the overall research is pretty solid. Who knew C.S. Lewis started off as an atheist? If you're interested in learning more about these two wonderful men and their world, I'd recommend you pick this up now.

7 of 7 people found this review helpful

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  • Jed B
  • Columbus, Georgia
  • 12-21-17

All my favorites

If you love C.S. Lewis, Tolkien, and understanding how history, biography, and art intersect--this one is for you. Just enough sociological & psychological context to put the war and its impact on these two men into the proper context, but not so academic add to be dreary. What stuck with me were the pervasive, unexamined assumptions associated with liberalism & how WWI destroyed & devastated Western culture's love affair with the Myth of Progress. Lots of examples from their work demonstrate their intimate acquaintance with the terror of war, their suspicion of technology, and their unabashed awe with which they regarded the stolid courage & unpolished stubbornness of the working-class men with whom they served in the all-volunteer British Expeditionary Force. Their friendship mirrored the best part of that culture and the "stern & tender" relationships between men which made the accomplishments of the BEF possible. a wonderful book!

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars

Fantastic

This book is a great listen. I thoroughly enjoyed the material presented and the narration. The in depth study of two of my favorite authors and the impact of WW1 on them, on their generation, on their faith, and on their writing was absolutely riveting. If you like the works of both these authors, I encourage you to listen to this book. I am going to re-read the books just to savor the added depth of insight this book has given me into what both authors experienced in WW1.

6 of 7 people found this review helpful

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Fascinating!!

Usually don't care for historical nonfiction about war. But when it portrays so well the effect it had on 2 of my favorite authors, I was riveted!! Excellent narrator and fantastic book!! I will revisit it again, along with Tolkein's and Lewis' work.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • M. VanLoo
  • JACKSON, MI, United States
  • 05-05-16

Such a disappointment

I have made a lifelong study of the Inklings, and have developed an interest in the Great War. Having read John Garth's superb work on Tolkien's experience with that conflict, and very much enjoyed Janet Brennan Croft's War and the Works of JRR Tolkien, I looked forward eagerly to listening to this title.

The text and the narrative flow are good. What almost made me want to throw my phone against the wall was the narrator. This guy was obviously not given any guidance in pronunciation of French names, or even some English ones. His version of the name Somme came out either as Some-may or as Som-muh. The correct "summ" never crossed his lips. And when he read of Lewis' training at Keble it came out "kebble." I've been there, and it ain't KEBBLE.

It probably will never happen, but if I was Joseph Loconte, I'd ask for a do-over with another narrator.

Such a disappointment...

15 of 21 people found this review helpful

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Reader's pronunciation is a major distraction

What didn’t you like about Dave Hoffman’s performance?

The reader mispronounces so many words, so many times, and it grates every time. I'll guess that somewhere around 98% of readers know how to pronounce Somme. David Hoffman doesn't, and you'll hear him read "Somma" multiple times a page.

14 of 20 people found this review helpful

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New perspective on the Great War and both authors

This book is intriguing both as historical study of both the causes and deep effects of the Great War, particularly on matters of faith, as well as a biographical study of both Lewis and Tolkien's time in the war and their friendship afterwards. The book gives enough information to allow the reader to make their own conclusions and begin to see potential connections, but does not dictate a 'correct' viewing of the links. Rather it presents the information in a clear manner with appropriate passages which demonstrate potential evidence of the War's effect. A book which causes more thought and reason for questions and curiosity in reading than direct answers.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Annaliesa Rose
  • 09-26-17

Amazing!

An amazing storytelling of how these brilliant writers were influenced by the Great War, Mythology, debating, Christianity and their friendship.