Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle Earth, by John Garth; Houghton Miffllin, 2003. This meticulous new biography of J.R.R. Tolkien during the years of World War I lays the groundwork for Garth's eloquent argument that Tolkien's fiction, rather than being an escape from reality, is Tolkien's reflection on and reaction to his experiences as a combatant in World War II. Despite its very specialized nature it's quite interesting, and Garth argues convincingly. It its own specialized way, it is quite as good as Tom Shippey's The Road to Middle Earth and J.R.R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, although I think that Shippey's books have wider appeal.
Random musings on books, code, and tabletop games.