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A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind [Paperback]

Michael O'Brien
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
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A Landscape with Dragons: The Battle for Your Child's Mind + Strangers and Sojourners + Father Elijah: An Apocalypse
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Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
When I was six or seven years old, I was convinced for a time that a monster lived in my bedroom closet. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't be misled, don't miss this book June 28 2000
The essential message of this book is that minds are at war for the redefinition of the way you and your children will think, and by implication, children of generations to come.
Traditional fairie tales expressed the influence the unseen world has on the world in which we live, but did so within the framework of a clear understanding of good and evil, right and wrong. Today's fairie tale is blurring the defining lines between these elements and creating a powerful, new (yet ancient) understanding that is degrading moral conscience and inviting young people to explore powers traditionally understood to belong to the 'dark side'. They even encourage friendship with any 'good' denizens of that dark side.
The original edition of this book was sub-titled "Christian and pagan imagination in children's literature." The second edition more clearly focuses on the immediate problem with its sub-title, "The battle for your child's mind." I read the original edition and was thrilled with the clear presentation of the dangers. This second edition is even more in-depth in its handling of the concepts and issues.
The reviewers of this book who speak negatively seem the rightful victims of the very forces exposed in the book. They give clear evidence of missing the point.
The point is not, "Are all snakes bad? Aren't any dragons good?" The point is that there is a malevolent mind, unrelenting, intent on destruction, at work at every level in our world, especially operative with tremendous effect in modern literature and visual media. To miss this point is to be a victim of the hypnotic forces of deception.
Those who read C.S.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
. . .and other concerned parents who want their children to read good literature.
Mr. O'Brien does a great service with this book by demonstrating the secular and pagan influences in much of what passes for children's literature these days. He carefully explains the difference (for Christians) between acceptable and unacceptable fantasy in a clear and cogent manner (and he sets quite a high standard!)
Portions of the book could have stood more detailed analysis. I agree with a previous reviewer who suggested that the "Pern" series was given short shrift. I also disagree with O'Brien's analysis of C.S. Lewis' "That Hideous Strength". But these are minor points.
Of special interest to the homeschooler is the detailed appendix which provides literally hundreds of safe and age appropriate titles for readers of all ages.
All in all, a remarkable and timely book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is "What Happened" March 8 2006
A highly intelligent and gifted writer who is able to see beyond the pop culture of our time has given parents a great reference tool in which to educate themselves on the underlying aspects of children's literature. It takes a well-developed mind to read this book as it is meant to be read; it is not "quick reading". It is a very in-depth look into what is really behind children's entertainment of today. While some readers may be put off by the author's insight into what may be one of their favorite books (or series of books), this book needs to be read, if you only take a little bit of knowledge away with you after reading it, you still have done yourself a favor! And to the young reader who felt the need to post "Three Words, What Happened Here?" In the future, when writing a critique, you might consider using the spellcheck device on your computer and if you want others to believe you are Christian (or even intelligent and well-mannered) you need to be charitable in your review of others, especially when writing about someone whose work is as illuminated as Mr. O'Brien's.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars seldom boring May 29 2001
I'm a single twenty year old who has no children. I had read all of O'Briens fiction novels and was thirsting for anything by Michael O'Brien. So I bought A Landscape With Dragons and read it twice over completely enthralled with what I was reading. All of my sneaking suspicions and intuitions about the culture I basically grew up with were not only confirmed, but were enfleshed, and brought out in way that was spiritually horrifying yet courageous in Michael O'Briens sustaining, powerful, sinewy way. But again, as in all of O'Briens work, one is thankful that he doesn't simply do right-wing hugging. No, he convincingly calls us to prayer and implants succesfully, as always, that ferment and spear in our conscience. Chesterton is always for me, a huge formation in the way of looking. O'Brien is always for me, a huge formation in the way of seeking sanctity in order to be looked upon.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent resource for parents Oct. 4 2000
In this volume, Michael O'Brien has provided both and invaluable service to parents (like myself) who want their children to read, but who are also concerned about much of the reading material currently available. He has analyzed children's literature, concentrating especially in the genre of fantasy and fairy story. He has clearly and cogently demonstrated how neo-paganism has become the dominant worldview of many authors in this genre.
Unlike many Christian authors, O'Brien has not made the mistake of throwing the baby out with the bath water. He does not lump all fantasy literature together in one category and toss it out. He carefully demonstrates the difference between good and bad fantasy literature, or, if you will, authentic and inauthentic fairy stories.
I do have a few points of contention, but they are minor, and detract very little from the overall value of the book.
1) CS Lewis is identified correctly as an Anglican -- a member of the Church of England -- but incorrectly as a member of that church's Evangelical wing. Lewis, in fact, attended a "High Church" parish, and strongly resisted political factions within churches.
2) JRR Tolkien is correctly held up as the model by which modern fantasy and fairy story should be judged. Having said this, very little actual analysis is provided for Tolkien's writings.
3) Similarly, in the book's "blurb", Charles Williams is held up -- but then not analyzed in the text. An analysis of Williams would have made O'Brien's concerns about Lewis' novel "That Hideous Strength" make more sense. (I'd still disagree with O'Brien on this one, but his case would have been stronger and easier to sensibly defend.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars eye-opening
Very helpful with its list of recommended titles, and very educational as to what to look for in books for our children.
Published on June 29 2004
1.0 out of 5 stars Three words: what happened here?
I not an "adult", howver, more sense comes out of my mind in a day than comes out of this mans head in a year. Read more
Published on Jan. 18 2003
1.0 out of 5 stars Yet another attempt to obliterate what makes America great
This is book makes Catholicism look bad. Rooted in fundamentalism, this piece takes a stab at the first amendment of the US constitution and tries to claim that binary dilliniation... Read more
Published on May 18 2002
4.0 out of 5 stars An Interesting Beginning, a Frenetic Execution
Michael O'Brien, author of "Father Elijah," now turns his hand to the theoretical side of literature - of Fantastic Fiction, in particular, in his worthy book, "A... Read more
Published on April 26 2000 by Emily Snyder
5.0 out of 5 stars Trust a Father Who Writes Well.
Michael O'Brien's work is all too rare. At first it is hard to believe that we and children are so vulnerable to the confusing attepmt to resymbolize good and evil in children's... Read more
Published on March 17 2000 by Jeremy Smyth
2.0 out of 5 stars So much for the Reluctant Dragon
Mr. O'Brien's treatment of fairy tales, Tolkien and Narnia is interesting and informative. His list of recommended books at the end is very useful. Read more
Published on March 9 2000 by Sheila L. Beaumont
3.0 out of 5 stars Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Dragon
Much of Mr. O'Brien's book is very interesting, and he is correct that how we use myth and legend reveals a lot about us. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2000 by Pat Reader
5.0 out of 5 stars Disturbing, but very necessary
When I first started reading, I thought that O'Brien was just being an alarmist. Having heard his full case, however, I must agree with what he says. Read more
Published on Oct. 20 1999
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