Book Review - Tolkien & the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth

Plot Summary:
Tolkien & the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth recounts the upbringing, relationships and early works of beloved author J.R.R. Tolkien.  While noteworthy for his creation of The Lord of the Rings & The Hobbit, this book places great emphasis on his relationships and correspondence with a group of boyhood friends known as the T.C.B.S.  

Image result for Tolkien and the great war bookReasons to Read:
  1. To Learn about the Origins of the T.C.B.S.: You will learn not only the names but the history behind Tolkien's storied relationships with these influential childhood compatriots, including aspects of their WWI experiences together.
  2. You Have an Academic Interest in his Writings: John Garth spends an extensive amount of time analyzing the writing style, origins and meaning of many of Tolkien's lesser-known poems and stories, in addition to the origin of some of his invented languages. While he undoubtedly did a great deal of research, this highly academic and critical approach seems more suited to an academic course of study than a biographical account for a mainstream audience. That being said, if you would like a more academic approach, this book should fit the bill - it was just a bit dry for my tastes.
Reason to Pass:
  1. You Want to Learn about the Origins of The Lord of the RingsThis book was not what I was expecting. I was hoping for a useful life sketch, interesting anecdotes, and enlightening comparisons between Tolkien's life experiences and how they inspired characters, themes and lands in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. This book contains few direct connections to those books and instead focuses on his earlier works. 
  2. You are Seeking Fun Anecdotes & Entertaining History: Instead of those things, large portions of this book focus on Tolkien's early poetry, interest in philology (the study of the origin & history of languages), and participation in World War I (which wasn't as interesting as it sounds). While informative, I wouldn't call it entertaining or something that you would share with your friends.
Tolkien & the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth is available for purchase here