Peter Kreeft's Between Heaven and Hell (Book Review) ~ BitterSweetLife

Monday, June 30, 2008

Peter Kreeft's Between Heaven and Hell (Book Review)

Time for a quick review of the expanded edition of Between Heaven and Hell by Peter Kreeft:


I mean that in the champagne sense, because this superb apologetics book sparkles so brightly and goes down so fast that you don't realize how heavy the argumentation actually is.

To set the stage for my glowing recommendation, you need to know that Between Heaven and Hell is written as a three-way conversation--a Socratic dialog, if you will--between J.F. Kennedy, Aldous Huxley, and C.S. Lewis. The fictional conversation is set on November 22, 1963, the historical date on which all three men died.

So a few hours after Kennedy, Huxley and Lewis pass away, they meet up in an unspecified location "somewhere between heaven and hell," and, at Lewis' bequest, begin a civil debate to discover the true nature of life. Kennedy represents materialism, Huxley Eastern religion, and Lewis the orthodox Christian faith. The dialog that Peter Kreeft creates is remarkable for its fluidity, its characterization, and its seamless incorporation of weighty theological and philosophical questions. Great ending as well.

In a word (other than "bubbly"), this book is brilliant. I like everything I've read by Peter Kreeft, and this is one of his masterpieces. A main advantage of the "expanded edition" was listening to Kreeft reflect on the book's history since its initial publication in 1982. One remarkable fact: Several people who knew C.S. Lewis personally have remarked to Kreeft that the demeanor of his faux Lewis fits the real man perfectly.

Between Heaven and Hell gets 3 of 3 stars--Don't miss it--and I have a hard time seeing how it could fail to cause enthusiasm in both seasoned and amateur apologists and lovers of C.S. Lewis everywhere. You better believe it's on the Master Book List.

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R. Sherman said...

This one Peter Kreeft's I haven't read. I need to pick it up. Professor Kreeft is a very nice man, BTW. Some years ago, I had an e-mail exchange with him and he was most forthcoming and helpful.


Will Robison said...

I did not know of this book, but I will now see if I can pick it up. This sounds like a great read. How long is it?

Ariel said...

@ Sherman, that's awesome. I've heard Peter Kreeft speak live (er, via MP3) and he's one of those rare guys who both writes and speaks with great effect.

@ Will, I actually intended to mention in the review that I read the book in under 3 hours, almost in a single sitting. Don't have my copy with me, but it is a pretty fast, engrossing read.

must_decrease said...

My only interaction with Kreeft is his joint work, "Handbook of Christian Aplogetics" which is a must have reference tool. I'm looking forward to rifling through this one now as well

Karla said...

I enjoyed this book a great deal. I had been wanted to read it for some time and when I saw it come out in a new edition I knew it was time to buy and read it. It was a delightful read. Kreeft did such a superb job with Lewis' dialog that I forgot it wasn't really Lewis's direct words.


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