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Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life and Impact of G.K. Chesterton

3.49  ·  Rating Details  ·  99 Ratings  ·  35 Reviews
You may be aware that G. K. Chesterton authored influential Christian biographies and apologetics. But you may not know the larger-than-life Gilbert Keith Chesterton himself—not yet. Equally versed in poetry, novels, literary criticism, and journalism, he addressed politics, culture, and religion with a towering intellect and a soaring wit.

Chesterton engaged his world thro
Paperback, 336 pages
Published January 3rd 2011 by Thomas Nelson (first published December 17th 2010)
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Mar 23, 2012 Paul rated it liked it
The strength and weakness of this book is its reliance on quotes. It's always good to read Chesterton's own words, but even I, sympathetic to Chesterton as I am, found myself rolling my eyes when Belmonte would write something along the lines of "...his comments deserve to be quoted in full."

Still, the book does offer what I assume is a decent overview of GKC's important works. I would have loved to see some commentary on the extensive quotes, but in fairness Belmonte does not claim to be writi
Holly Ordway
May 09, 2012 Holly Ordway rated it really liked it
An excellent, readable literary biography of the great GK Chesterton, recommended as an introduction to GKC's work. This is not a conventional biography, but rather one that focuses on the circumstances in which Chesterton wrote his most important works, and the impact of those works on culture and on other writers. Belmonte has an engaging prose style and an infectious enthusiasm about GKC. He quotes extensively from a wide range of GKC's books, which allows readers to be enticed into reading m ...more
Richard Duncan
Dec 14, 2015 Richard Duncan rated it really liked it
My son, Alan, has encouraged me to read GK Chesterton. So, I have read Heretics and Orthodoxy. I'm currently reading The Man Who Was Thursday.

My son and I recently took a trip to Wheaton College to research some books owned by CS Lewis that were written by GK Chesterton. In order to prepare for that trip and the research, I learned about this book, Defiant Joy, which is a literary biography of GKC.

Kevin Belmonte has a great appreciation for Chesterton. He has the ability to tell the story of C
Miriam Klit
Feb 02, 2016 Miriam Klit rated it really liked it
I quite liked this book about Chesterton, though it didn't entirely serve my purpose for reading it. I could have hoped to gain more knowledge about Chesterton's life, but for that I might have to turn to other sources. However the book really stood out in the way that it did a brief, but with an abundance of citations - from Chesterton himself and others, introduction to his literary works and influence. It is most certainly a book I would consult when I read different writings from Chesterton.
Apr 09, 2016 Paul rated it it was amazing
Read in one (or two) breaths. A fantastic introduction to Chesterton's greatness as shown through the influence of his writing and his friendships.
I am really glad I read this book, and I am now going to search for some of his works that I must try to read. I'm currently doubting my ability to appreciate G.K. Chesterton, but I am going to try. The style was somewhat off-putting at first because the author used many of long quotes,both from Chesterton and from what others said about him, but as I progressed through the book, that style grew on me. It was less a book about his life than about his impact on his world, which was considerable.
Aug 17, 2015 Ryan rated it really liked it
I have read that some people don't like Belmonte's book because he draws from so many sources, often quoting them at length, sometimes filling a page or two with a lengthy block quote. But not liking this book because of that reason misses the reason why the author wrote this book in the first place—to foster a love for Chesterton and his writing. It is to this end that he quotes at length from people who knew Chesterton, reviewed his books in popular periodicals or newspapers, and from Chestert ...more
Jan 14, 2015 Derek rated it did not like it
Usually I don't like to give strongly negative reviews, but I found this book to be strongly disappointing. Primarily, I didn't feel like Belmonte (the biographer) offered anything of value in the book. In fact, many chapters were simply long quotations from Chesterton's own works, and usually the quotations came from early sections in the works themselves. For example, I have been reading through Heretics (by Chesterton) and I discovered that the chapter that discusses (i.e., quotes) this book ...more
J. Alfred
Oct 27, 2015 J. Alfred rated it liked it
The blurb on the back congratulates the author on his "caring" portrayal of Chesterton: this is good and just, but also perhaps somewhat faint praise, which is also just. The book is well-researched and interesting, but mainly a patchwork of long quotes from Chesterton's texts and reviews on his work. When the author's own work is considered, it is professional, but with some irritating points: he will often quote the exact same text a number of different times (sometimes in the space of a page ...more
Mar 18, 2014 Daniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
This biography by Kevin Belmonte gives a good overview of the life of G.K. Chesterton and the times in which he wrote. After giving an overview of his childhood life and the joys and pains found therein, Belmonte chronicles Chesterton's life according to the works that he wrote. Belmonte uses an ample amount of quotes, both from Chesterton's works and from friends, critics and people that reviewed his works. But in addition to all of this, Belmonte seeks to draw out the culture in which Chestert ...more
Jun 22, 2016 iamnotabookworm rated it really liked it
Shelves: paperbacks
To me, after having read Defiant Joy, Gilbert Keith Chesterton has become more admirable and influential. Not to the point of hero-worship but a real, vulnerable and remarkable person was revealed to me. A man, like any of us, filled with doubts and has emerged enlightened and a man of faith, according to the book, Orthodoxy, which has become a widely known guide to understanding Catholicism and Christianity to many. And I would love to read it too. Admit it, for most of us, who has grown and ad ...more
Feb 23, 2013 Dale rated it really liked it
A great introduction to a terrifically important writer

For most people, including this reviewer, C.S. Lewis was the gateway to G.K. Chesterton. Lewis, of course, is famous for being THE Christian apologist for his generation - a man who did not believe but then, after his conversion, was able to voice the thoughts and beliefs for millions with such landmark books as Mere Christianity . When I found out that it was the writings of G.K. Chesterton that helped to convert Lewis I had to start to lo
Jeff Miller
Feb 07, 2011 Jeff Miller rated it liked it
As a fan of G.K. Chesterton I was happy to review Defiant Joy: The Remarkable Life & Impact of G.K. Chesterton a new biography by Kevin Belmonte. The author notes that this book is not a comprehensive or definitive study, but to introduce a life and legacy. I am all for introducing Chesterton to a wider range of people.

The book mostly allows Chesterton to speak for himself as there are numerous paragraphs from his books and other writings within. The basic framework of the book is to go sequ
Clockstein Lockstein
Mar 07, 2011 Clockstein Lockstein rated it really liked it
Defiant Joy by Kevin Belmonte is a literary biography of G.K. Chesterton examining his life and faith through his writings. Gilbert Keith Chesterton is an oft-quoted and still respected writer seventy-five years after his death. He was a prolific and eclectic writer ranging from essays to literary biographies to criticisms to novels, poetry, and a play. Best known for his paradoxical and eminently quotable writings, he has been a touchstone for Christians for a century. C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tol ...more
Ruth Hill
Apr 13, 2011 Ruth Hill rated it it was ok
When I began this book, I had only heard of G.K. Chesterson. I couldn't have told you anything about him nor any of his books he wrote. I probably knew he was English, but that is it.

Because of this book, I have now developed a new appreciation and understanding for this "bigger-than-life" man. I plan to add a lot of his writings to my to-be-read list. He liked and reviewed many literary authors I also enjoy--Charles Dickens, Chaucer, St. Francis of Assisi, and many more. He also wrote some fict
Dec 14, 2011 Jeff rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
If you have not read anything by GK Chesterton this book MIGHT be interesting to you. Might, being the operative term. This book ends up basically being a book review of a different GKC book each chapter with little biographical info at all. There are way too many quotes from GKC's books and way too many quotes of what others said about his books. It feels like reading a bad book review from a college freshman..."so and so said this about this book. so and so said this about this book. so and so ...more
Dillon Rockrohr
Jan 30, 2012 Dillon Rockrohr rated it liked it
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. However, on its merit as a biography, it could have been better. The book does seem to pass more as a survey of Chesterton's literary work, which I found helpful in that aspect, but it does not focus enough on the actual events of his life to pass for a biography. But let's face it, though this guy made some incredible writings his life was not all that interesting, and I think that is why Belmonte rather emphasized the literature. His use of quotes was a little s ...more
Ali M.
Jan 18, 2011 Ali M. rated it liked it
I'm a little torn on this one. Chesterton is one of my favorite writers ever, but I've yet to find a biography on him that's as well-written as I'd like. Sure, the important thing about biographies is the content –and on that count, Defiant Joy excels. It's an excellent resource for obscure Chesterton quotes and passages from works that aren't readily available today, and for that, I'm forever thankful to Kevin Belmonte. Every bit of Chesterton in this book is gold. I just thought the in-between ...more
Janet Matthews
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John Sagherian
Just finished reading "Defiant Joy" - it whets one's appetite and makes you want to read books by G.K. Chesterton.
Paul Heidebrecht
Jan 18, 2012 Paul Heidebrecht rated it it was amazing
Chesterton is a believer worth emulating. Indeed, an impressive number of people have come back to faith and to the Gospel just because of GKC. He's what "witnessing" should be like. Belmonte's biography is a delightfully readable and compelling account of a most remarkable man and writer. Chesterton produced a book--and almost always a superb one--just about every year. Lots to read. Many good books about him as well. Belmonte's is a worthy addition to the pile.
Aug 03, 2013 Joyce rated it it was ok
Library copy.
Slogged through. Some over my head, but I learned a lot. Well worth reading about. Oh, and wll documented, lots of quotes of biographies as well as Chesterton's works. Interesting man, genius.

Chesterton liked Twain, R.L. Stephenson, Dickens. He wrote several biographies. He stood for what was right -- a man of integrity, regardless of what others thought. His writings on faith influenced C.S. Lewis and others. Also wrote satirical fiction.
Michael Philliber
Dec 06, 2012 Michael Philliber rated it really liked it
Belmonte has given readers a favorable, as-to-read work on G.K. Chesterton's literary works. It is shaped in a biographical order, without being truly a biography. The reader will learn quite a bit about what Chesterton wrote and the reviews it received, with little snippets of his life sprinkled in. An enjoyable piece that will whet the appetite for more, and likely spawn readers to purchase G.K.C.'s works. I'm planning to do so myself for Christmas.
Tyler Hurst
Jan 22, 2014 Tyler Hurst rated it really liked it
I have been spoiled by Metaxs's bio of Bonhoeffer and as such cannot give this book five stars, that said the book is a quick and easy read, helpful in understanding and engaging Chesterton. I wish the author could just decide what his guiding style would be-to focus on chronology and major events, to focus on ideas, to focus on works.
Dec 18, 2012 Alex rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: all readers of Chesterton
Ever since I first read The Man Who Was Thursday, I have been an avid and voracious Chestertonian. His books, both fiction and non-fiction, say a great deal about him, but I didn't quite know him until I read Belmonte's biography. To meet the Man alongside the Mind was a grand experience, especially under Belmonte's professional hand. Thumbs up once more to Kevin Belmonte, and an everlasting round of applause for GKC.
Bryana Johnson
Oct 18, 2012 Bryana Johnson rated it really liked it
This is a decent biography of Chesterton. Belmonte capitalizes on the sequence and contents of his writings (which were many and varied!) and doesn’t add as much insight into his life – especially his childhood and conversion – as I would have liked, so I didn’t learn quite as much as I was hoping I would. Overall, however, this is a solid look at the legacy of a mighty wordsmith.
Mathias Seiwert
Aug 14, 2013 Mathias Seiwert rated it it was amazing
This is one of my favorite books about one of my favorite people. I couldn’t wait to read more each day and was genuinely disappointed when I finished the book because I wanted to read so much more about a man who used his extremely intelligent brain to the highest degree while loving the Lord Jesus Christ with the strong faith of a little child.
Mark Glidden
Aug 30, 2013 Mark Glidden rated it it was ok
A short, accessible biography of one of the greatest literary figures of the 20th century, and in my opinion, of all time.
Tends to be a bit shallow in some areas, but on the whole, a great starting point from which to leap into all things Chesterton.
Mano Chil
Jul 10, 2012 Mano Chil rated it it was ok
Shelves: biography
Usually when I want to read a biography, I prefer to read about the celebrity through the words of the author. This book contains more excerpts from Chesterton and others than the author himself.
Cindy Navarro
Jan 08, 2011 Cindy Navarro rated it really liked it
I admit I knew little of G.K.C. outside of his Father Brown mysteries, so this was an interesting overall view of the man and his literary works. I am certainly now wanting to read more of his books.
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