Review of “The Well and the Shallows”

2012/05/18

The Well and the ShallowsThe Well and the Shallows by G.K. Chesterton
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

The least impressive work of Chesterton I have read. Chesterton’s unique pithiness and irony is present, but it shines less brightly in the service of a weak apology for the Catholic Church. Chesterton briefly introduces us to a few intriguing political and literary figures of his time, offering some amusing and instructive examples of modern folly along the way. At the same time, Chesterton’s engagements with his contemporaries are sometimes of too little historical significance to give the reader more than mild diversion. While Chesterton’s brand of satire is amusing and engaging, it has a hallow core on the pages of this book. Chesterton’s treatment of Protestantism is largely dismissive and based heavily on fallacious reasoning. He deploys arrant distortion, attacks upon straw men, ad hominem and post hoc fallacies as his main tools in a strikingly superficial critique of Protestantism. A reader hopeful for a more substantive engagement is conclusively disappointed in Chesterton’s closing essay. In it, Chesterton tenuously links Protestantism to Hitler. Although the book was written before WWII, Chesterton clearly saw the evils of Hitler’s agenda and tactics. The “guilt by association” argument is therefore inexcusable. This is most certainly not the best G.K. has to offer.

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One Response to “Review of “The Well and the Shallows””

  1. tim prussic Says:

    I just started reading The Man Who Knew Too Much. I’ll make sure to review it. Thanks for this review; I’ll steer clear of this book from GKC and head toward something else.


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