Category: Book Reviews

When Subversion Is a Good Thing, Shocking as That May Seem

Dorothy L. Sayers was a “find” for me in just the last few years. Once I realized she and C. S. Lewis were friends and that he loved her BBC radio plays titled The Man Born to Be King, I knew I had to be better acquainted with her writings. I read all of her Lord Peter Wimsey novels, luxuriated in The Mind of the Maker, devoted myself to the book version of the radio plays (with her marvelous introduction),… Read more »

Washington & Arnold: The Role of Character in History

One of my upper-level history courses is on the American Revolution. I’m teaching it again this semester and am using a book I’ve not used before—Nathaniel Philbrick’s Valiant Ambition—with a subtitle that provides the precise goal of the work: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution. History is not about “forces” that make things happen; rather, history is the story of individuals whose decisions push the narrative one way or the other. In this book, Philbrick… Read more »

Their Eyes Were All I Needed to See

We’re at the point in my C. S. Lewis course where I am giving the students The Abolition of Man. It’s a harder read than most of what I give them from Lewis, but I’ve never seriously considered dropping it from the course. It’s just too important, and the concepts within it are so significant to their worldview that I believe I would be doing a disservice to avoid it. I do, though, make sure I give it enough time… Read more »

The Joy of Teaching Lewis

For the fifth time since my 2014-15 sabbatical and the writing of my C. S. Lewis book, I’ll be teaching the course this fall that I developed out of that sabbatical: “C. S. Lewis: History and Influence.” It was a joy to teach this course the first four times, and I don’t expect it to be otherwise this time. Since I’m a history professor, not English literature, the course has a strong historical component as we work through a number… Read more »

Lewis’s OHEL: Gleanings

Out of all of C. S. Lewis’s books, probably one of the least-read is his English Literature in the Sixteenth Century, part of the Oxford series on the history of English literature. As with The Allegory of Love, its academic focus can be daunting for anyone unfamiliar with the roster of authors and titles he covers. I’m nearly halfway through the book, and I’ll admit the sections on poetry are a tough grind for me. Yet even in those highly… Read more »

Narnia for Adults (and Other Maturing People)

Nearly every Wednesday evening since last September, I’ve been teaching a class at my church on The Chronicles of Narnia. Using the traditional order, I’ve completed The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Prince Caspian, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, and The Silver Chair. Last Wednesday, we began The Horse and His Boy. When I started this spiritual journey (and that seems an appropriate description for it), I wondered if adults truly would see the depth C. S. Lewis… Read more »

Screwtape’s Agony Is Our Reward

My students finished reading C. S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters this week. The final letter includes one of the most profound insights Lewis has ever offered as to what happens when a Christian dies. Even though it is described through the eyes of a demon (or perhaps because it is described in that way), one can get a glimpse of the glory that awaits those who have found the narrow path and remained faithful. Wormwood’s “patient” has died in a… Read more »