Author: Eric Metaxas
Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Blackstone Audiobooks
Mextaxas’ Bonhoeffer was a long but overall enjoyable read. I will admit to knowing little about Metaxas himself, but I think he did a good job scripting a narrative of Bonhoeffer’s life that was enlightening and enticing. If you like history, biographies, and a gripping story, this is the book for you.
I think the best way I can describe this book is “unhurried.” For such a man as Bonhoeffer, I am sure it was difficult to choose what to include in this biography and what to leave out. More often than not, I have a feeling the author chose the former option. I would be neglectful if I didn’t mention that this work is long. Quite long, in fact. While I enjoyed every minute of it, and I learned so much about this man, the state of the Church at that time, and WWII, there were multiple times that I could hardly believe I still had so much of the book left. Metaxas packs so much into every chapter it is almost as if this book were a series of books.
Even though this was a piece of nonfiction, I found the narrative engaging. I repeat this point only because I have found it a rare occurrence among most nonfiction I have read or listened to. Unlike other nonfiction books, even history and biography, I felt myself pulled along with the story. You learn history along the way of following Bonhoeffer’s life, allowing you to see into the world of Germany, Europe, and even America that is typically only experienced through well-written fiction. This was perhaps my favorite part of how the book was written. Next to that was getting the opportunity to hear so many passages of Bonhoeffer’s writing. Along these lines, the ending was most fitting, and I do not wish to spoil it.
As a warning, the reader or listener should be aware that the last chapter holds some rather disturbing descriptions of experiments done in concentration camps. For anyone familiar with the practices of the Nazi’s or the last months of Bonhoeffer’s life, this should not come as a surprise. And yet, it is still unsettling to hear these descriptions every time. Such reports are not unnecessary, though they make me sick, and the reader should be prepared before they come.
There is so much to be gleaned by Bonhoeffer’s devotion as a pastor and his life in general. One of the best things I learned from this book was the importance of intense and daily study of Scripture. Hopefully, none of us will be imprisoned for our faith or separated from the Scriptures. Yet such trials were trivial to Bonhoeffer because he knew Him in whom he had put his trust. If you have the Lord’s Word on your heart, no one will ever take it from you.
Bonhoeffer is an intense and unhurried narrative about a man who truly lived his convictions. I can only think of the good he could have done had he lived long enough to see freedom. Yet as he said, “This is the end—for me, the beginning of life.” And that was very much true. He knew where he was going, and in that, he had hope. So many things about this man are inspiring, yet that statement is possibly the most so. Perhaps there are better biographies and histories out there, but Bonhoeffer is one book that I think people should read sooner than later.
Blessings to you and yours,
~Madelyn Rose Craig