Saturday, June 8, 2013

A book review: "The Complete Thinker" (about Chesterton)

I finished the first of my books on my summer reading list - though I cheated and had actually begun the book earlier.

But I'm gonna count it anyway.

After all, it was written by a friend about one of my favorite writers.

The Complete Thinker: The Marvelous Mind of G. K. Chesterton by Dale Ahlquist is a great book for fans of Chesterton who want to review his ideas, and for those who have never read Chesterton to get an idea what all the well-deserved hoopla is about.

The book is a survey of Chesterton's thinking on any number of issues and topics. Given the range of Chesterton's writings the book needed an appendix to try to fit everything in - and I suspect Ahlquist could have added another appendix or two if he'd wanted to.

Chesterton was noted for inserting himself and his thought into everything he was writing, so it's no surprise that as he explores GKC's thoughts, Ahquist also managed to sneak in bits of his own Chesterton-colored observations about contemporary issues.

Given the volume of Chesterton's writings and the range of topics he covered, the book is by necessity only a taste of Chesterton. But it might just inspire readers to explore him more seriously and more in depth. Although I have been reading Chesterton fairly regularly for the past 20 years, I learned a few things from this book - and made some connections I hadn't before.

I must admit with some guilt that I found reading the book like reading Chesterton - at least for me. Some people can guzzle his writing. I find I need to sip and savor, so it takes me a while to get through any of Chesterton's books. It took me months to finish Ahlquist's book. That's not a criticism of Ahlquist; it's more of a commentary on me.

But whatever your approach, I do recommend this book. Even if you are not a fan of Chesterton, I think you'll find this book thought-provoking and eye-opening.

So buy it, and keep Dale's bank account solvent.

Pax et bonum

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