Michael Coren’s J.R.R. Tolkien: The Man Who Created The Lord of the Rings is a no-fuss, cursory overview of the life of the legendary author. Coren’s slim volume is to-the-point, undramatic, and plain… perhaps to a fault. The biography, though educational, reads only a little better than a lengthy encyclopedia entry.
However, like an encyclopedia entry J.R.R. Tolkien is, at the very least, informative, worth reading for anyone in search of a concise summary of the author’s life. Coren starts with Tolkien’s beginnings in South Africa and works his way succinctly through Tolkien’s sweet countryside childhood, his grief-stricken teen years, to his accomplished adulthood. He praises Tolkien’s life-long romance with his wife Edith, honestly mentions some of Tolkien’s failings, and reveals the professional trajectory that led to his literary masterpieces.
Coren’s work is not what could be called intimate and is far from exhaustive, but he does provide his readers with a few delightful tidbits about Tolkien. The professor begins to come alive, if only slightly, as readers learn briefly about his friendship with C.S. Lewis, his disdain for anti-Semitism, and his loving relationship with his children.
J.R.R. Tolkien is straightforward, simple, and too brief to be deeply personal. Yet it accomplishes the essence of its goal by giving an educational glimpse at the man behind the books that have captured the minds of millions.