Studying World War One has been on my mind for the past while. The Great War set the course for all the events which came after it and deeply altered Western culture. The part this war played in shaping the fiction of Tolkien and Lewis has also aroused my curiosity. And so, this book supplies for both of my wants, since it describes the world prior to the war, the attitudes of Tolkien and Lewis to WWI, their careers during the war, and how it shaped their lives and works. The book contains an impressive amount of information in its short two hundred pages.
The early chapters inform the reader of the important intellectual movements prior to the war. These movements proposed that science, technology, and the state could build a superior society without reliance upon God. Eugenics and Social Darwinism played a huge role in these Utopian schemes, which all crumbled in the cataclysm of 1914-1918. World War I ushered in an era of pessimism with patriotic and religious values being suspect and often disowned. Former soldiers often led the way in literature by sucking all the glory and meaning from war. The book attempts to answer the question why Tolkien and Lewis defended traditional values in a world where most intellectuals were turning against them.