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A World Without Heroes: The Modern Tragedy

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This ringing defense of Christianity, humorous, insightful and uncompromising, takes careful and timeless aim at those ideas which Roche claims have shriveled the will of the West. 9 cassettes.

368 pages, Paperback

First published June 1, 1987

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About the author

George Charles Roche III

17 books7 followers
George Charles Roche III (May 16, 1935 – May 5, 2006) was the 11th president of Hillsdale College, serving from 1971 to 1999.

Roche received his bachelor's degree from Regis College (now Regis University) in 1956. He later received a masters and Ph.D. from the University of Colorado.

Prior to becoming president of Hillsdale College Roche was a professor at the Colorado School of Mines. He also worked with the Foundation for Economic Education.

The Center for Constructive Alternatives seminar program and the college's widely circulated speech digest, Imprimis, were started during Roche's years as college president. Under his leadership, many new buildings were constructed, including a sports complex that bears his name. Roche authored many books, such as Legacy of Freedom, The Bewildered Society, and The Book of Heroes, although it is believed that Lissa Roche, his daughter-in-law who worked at the college, was the ghost writer for his later books.[citation needed] In the case of The Book of Heroes Lissa is sometimes listed as a co-author and was acknowledged as a major contributor in the book's introduction.

Roche was appointed chairman of the National Council on Educational Research by Ronald Reagan in 1984.

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Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews
Profile Image for James Johnson.
518 reviews8 followers
December 3, 2013
The author has arbitrarily determined that believing in god is heroic and not believing is anti-heroic. His arguments were vapid and his conclusions were biased. Roche was making moral assumptions that were not necessarily true and attempting to find ways to vilify any persons who he deemed did not agree with his theology.

It was certainly ironic to read the author's criticisms of sexual depravity only to discover that during the time he wrote this book and for another 12 years (until she committed suicide) he was having sexual relations with his son's wife. I cannot trust people who are a disgrace to their own proclaimed values and yet feel the need to point the finger at the world and paint us all with the same brush. I am morally superior than you were, Mr. Roche, and we can make a better, secular world without you.
Profile Image for Jonathan.
814 reviews7 followers
October 4, 2019

"Of all creatures, man is the only one that seeks meaning beyond the physical"

In this work, Roche examines the death of the hero figure in culture. Essentially, he believes that society requires hero's to emulate, and by so doing, bring the lower portions of society up, as they strive towards the example laid down by the heroic. The issue that Roche sees then, is the rise of the Anti-Hero, who has sought not raise the bottom of society, but to lower the greatest among us. They do this by literalism, lack of myth, belief in pure reason, and a denial of any true heroism. From a personal perspective, I can say that I strive for a larger responsibility, and the opportunity to positively affect the rest of society, even at my own cost. Yet, this desire wars against a corresponding, and often stronger desire, to descend into myself. Roche sees this desire as one that is encouraged by the anti-hero.

Unfortunately however, Roche goes on an incredibly long-winded rant against evolution, science, and social services, that is poorly reasoned, and damages his credibility. Moreover, its frankly fairly boring.

This book discusses the incredibly important topic of the lack of heroic figures in society, and some of its causes, yet fails to avoid the authors bias and poor reasoning down the stretch.

As an aside, this is the first audio book I've heard a narrator clear his throat in-twice. Also, Roche mixes up Frodo and Bilbo Baggins in the conclusion, and this after claiming to be a fan of Tolkien, and that is clear inexcusable.
Profile Image for Jeff Koeppen.
530 reviews31 followers
February 5, 2017
I'm not a scientist but I read science and listen to science podcasts and with the information I've gleaned from these channels I was easily able to refute most of the misguided author's arguments against Darwin, evolution, and general science which took up the last third of the book. Granted, the book was written in the late 80s and there have been advances in microbiology, genetics, and almost every other branch of science which the author was unaware of at the time this book was written.

The book is basically a flawed attempt at defending the possibility of the supernatural and the argument that Christian beliefs should prevail in every facet of life. The author argues that there no more heroes (maybe there weren't in 1987, I can't remember) and labels progressives in society as anti-heros. Like many other ultra-conservatives he bashes the public school system and fills pages with the now tired, old mantras.

But the Darwin bashing was extremely infuriating to me. I've heard enough scientist vs. creationist debates and read and heard enough Dawkins (and others) that refuting the believers' nonsense is not even a challenge. It's beyond me why creationists continue to disparage the theory of evolution by bashing Darwin, when the theory has advanced so far since. He wrote On the Origin of Species with no knowledge of DNA, modern genetics, or microbiology. What an amazing achievement. Yet creationists such as the author try to belittle the theory of evolution by pointing out what Darwin may have missed, or got wrong. That's like saying astronomy is bunk because Copernicus didn't identify Uranus or Neptune, despite all that we've learned since Copernicus from the Hubble, space craft visiting other planets, walking on the moon, etc. The author also tries to belittle evolution by pointing out gaps in the fossil record. Oh, creationists! Nitpicking scientific theories which may still have holes (for now.....give science time) while accepting the belief that all they see around in the universe is the result of some all-powerful wizard in the sky. Where is their proof? A book written by Bronze Age primitives, with no updates or sequels since? OK.

Speaking of the supernatural: the author at least admits that most miracles can be explained by science but then goes on to hang his hat on "the handful" that can't be explained by science, without naming any. Science has come a long way in 30 years since this book was written, and hopefully 30 years from now the world will be governed by science and reason, and the the myths and superstitions that currently prevail will be in our rear-view mirror.
Profile Image for Norm Konzelman.
126 reviews4 followers
March 7, 2015
The method for suicide of western civilization.
An extensive examination of what the author calls the 'anti-hero', and not nearly so much of the hero and the spirit of heroism.
The work delves deeply into history for the source of the beliefs, really philosophies, of the anti-hero clearly showing that, as my preacher said, “people believe a thing, because they believe it”. Having nothing to do with fact or the truth. A result is wished for, so a conclusion is created to result in an outcome to produce it.
I cannot do justice to this book in a review, and you wouldn't want to read it if I did, but this I'll share here. You have to pay attention. It is not a book that you can get away with giving it your partial listening, and it is far from low level intellectually.
The author absolutely destroys the modern educational model, based on the god of man and relativism, evolution, and it's end products of tyranny and barbarism.
In detail you are shown what is wrong with public education and how it could simply, though not easily be reestablished to be an asset to those it now serves to ruin.
An indictment of the modern 'science god' also.
The author George Roche concluded the book in 1987, which would put it at the end of the Presidential term of Ronald Reagan. The high water mark of modern principled civilization in this country. The author comes to conclude in my opinion, that our country is undergoing and laying the foundation to continue a return to those high values we once held. Seeing things as they are today, I can't help but say he was wrong to conclude this, as we have sunk into a sewer kind of society.
Nevertheless, and though his 'anti-hero' would more accurately be described as 'anti-Christ', yes Virginia! There are still heroes.
You won't be sorry you heard or read this, but it does not solve except for giving one a literal armory of ammunition with which to deliberate and debate, and is not uplifting for the most part. It sure does give the laundry-list of work to be done!
Profile Image for Brian.
186 reviews7 followers
August 11, 2017
I have been reading more of these philosophy-oriented books. It's not the best for audiobooks, because the ideas aren't given in a narrative and thus the book requires a fair bit of thought to follow. I enjoyed thinking about the illogical side of logically-derived determinism. I also hadn't thought of evolution as religious ideology. The idea of sciencism is also quite interesting to me right now: treating science as a belief system. I see this in my own field of study when smart people get an idea about how a system ought to work and ignore the data that doesn't fit their expectation. Religion and science are not fundamentally at odds, and I look forward to a future where the faithful and the scientific can embrace one another rather than combat one another.
Profile Image for Bob.
342 reviews
January 23, 2019
Excellent book, although a little dated as he references current events & movements that are no longer current (copy right 1987). This book is right up there with “The Culture of Narcissism: American Life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations” by Christopher Lasch & “The Closing of the American Mind: How Higher Education Has Failed Democracy and Impoverished the Souls of Today's Students” by philosopher Allan Bloom. Very well written & thought provoking work.
Profile Image for Eric.
3,476 reviews21 followers
November 15, 2021
Quite possibly the best listen of this current year. Roche tells us in no uncertain terms that Christianity is the answer to a goodly number of our current problems, and that secularism and scientism are the cause of them. A truly masterful work.
Profile Image for thethousanderclub.
298 reviews18 followers
May 31, 2013
Adam C. Zern shares his thoughts . . .

"I learned of this book while listening to a speech by Dallin H. Oaks. He referenced a particular quote from the book and I became interested. George Roche, the author, was president of Hillsdale college at one time.

The subject matter of the book deals with what the author considers very counter-productive and even destructive modern philosophies, which he labels "anti-hero." Most of his commentaries, for that is what the book mainly is, are lucid and his arguments are strong. The book wanders a little and some of what he says feels redundant but I enjoyed the book overall. His commentary on the modern outlook of science and what he calls "scientism" is especially interesting and accurate. I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading social/academic commentaries.

A World Without Heroes: The Modern Tragedy is probably the closest to a type of book that I would be most likely to write in the future."

Profile Image for Chris White.
Author 14 books39 followers
November 28, 2011
It's true that the gifts and call of God are irrevocable. It's also true that ignorance is bliss. I did not know until I finished what amounts to a magnum opus on thinking that Dr. Roche was embroiled in scandal toward the end of his life--so I read the book with open heart and mind, and for that I feel I have been rewarded.

This is an amazing work. While some of it is dated (in regard to the Soviet Union), some parts are eerily prophetic, and indeed resound full and round into our times, into this very moment. Roche put together a reference standard here.

If you seek a party on which to affix the blame for the ills of western civilization, look no further than the nearest mirror. We're all to blame; our thinking is absolutely corrupt. Roche explains why in detail. Long live the heroes. Find echoes of them within these pages.
Profile Image for D.A. Cairns.
Author 12 books50 followers
January 2, 2010
A terrific book full of stuff I wish I could remember to support my own arguments. Lots of great quotes. A bit preachy, and the author lost me when he bagged all modern art and music as basically degenerate. He would hate what I'm listening to now.
A very solid defense of the Christian world view.
43 reviews2 followers
June 24, 2008
A prose on the anti-hero (mass man) and the defeatist culture that threatens to spread the viruses of apathy, mediocrity and immorality through our culture.
5 reviews
January 16, 2009
Why heroes are important, the culture in which they thrive, and how to raise my boys to think, act, and be everyday heroes.
Profile Image for Leila Bowers.
301 reviews3 followers
Want to read
February 25, 2012
Great so far - learning about everything from the Theory of Relativity to anti-hero and beyond.
Displaying 1 - 14 of 14 reviews

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