The subtitle of this book characterizes it as a “guide” to The Abolition of Man. Potential readers might, therefore, ask themselves: What does Michael Ward mean in calling his book a “guide”? And why should a guide be needed for a book that (with rather large print) runs to only a little more than a hundred pages and is written by an author whose prose style is noted for its clarity?
It turns out, however, that this book is an excellent guide in several different respects. Lewis’s small book (of three chapters and an appendix) is, with a few revisions, the text of his Riddell Memorial Lectures, delivered at the University of Durham in 1943 and published shortly thereafter. If there are any facts Ward does not know about the occasion for those lectures, the reception of the book by reviewers and readers, and the influence it has had on other thinkers in the years since its publication, we probably do not need to know them. The very helpful six opening chapters of this book situate The Abolition of Man within its historical setting (in the midst of the Second World War), outline the philosophical context to which Lewis was reacting, and discuss some of the ways in which Lewis’s book has been influential.