Book Reviews

Reading List for November, 2021: Peloponnesian, Cold War, Great War, more…

A War Like No Other by Victor Davis Hanson

A conflict of epic proportions tears apart the fabric of Western Civilization and dramatically alters the political, military, philosophical landscape for decades to come.

The above phrase could very well describe the two World Wars that bloodied our planet at the beginning of the twentieth century. But it could also describe the Peloponnesian War, which changed forever the way the Greeks saw the city state, the military, and their place in the world. It also set the stage for Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, and opened up a vacuum which was first filled by Macedonian warlord Phillip and his son Alexander, and subsequently by an upstart Italian city named Rome.

Victor Davis Hanson leaves no stone un-turned in this in-depth analysis of the war and its consequences. He is also not shy about drawing parallels between ancient and modern times. Prepare for a long, but very informative, very rewarding read.

Nuclear Folly by Serhii Plokhy

Most people know that in the early 1960s the world came very close to a nuclear holocaust. What few people know, I’ll wager, is exactly how close.

Very, VERY close, as it turns out.

Drawing upon both Russian and US sources (like KGB files and secret White House recordings), author Serhii Plokhy demonstrates just how near the world came to mutual annihilation.

And if you think that’s chilling, wait until your read Plokhy’s epilogue. You might not sleep well afterward.

Metropolis by Ben Wilson

As snow is falling and the weather is dipping below freezing, I am finally able to complete Al Mohler’s summer reading list. The final book was “Metropolis: A History of the City, Humankinds Greatest Invention” by Ben Wilson. More than just a “history of the city”, it is an in-depth analysis of what makes cities tick, why they begin, and how they fall. A surprisingly engaging read for what seems like a rather cerebral subject.

A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War by Joseph Loconte

Ever since I was old enough to appreciate the Lord of the Rings and the Chronicles of Narnia, I have known of the friendship between the authors of those two works. What I was unaware of was the immense impact of one shared experience upon the lives of Tolkien and Lewis – namely, both served in the trenches of World War One.

In “A Hobbit, A Wardrobe, and A Great War” Joseph Loconte explores the background of that first horrific global conflict, how it affected Western Civilization as a whole, and how it affected the two authors in particular. He examines their attitudes towards war, heroism, good and evil, and postulates that their war experience helped to bring them together in friendship when it was over.

If you are a Lewis and/or Tolkien fan, this is a must-read. It is also valuable for students of history and philosophy, especially as it regards the development of our modern world.

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