Bonhoeffer: A Biography

by Carrie


Bonhoeffer: A Biography is a hefty six hundred page read. However, when you close the book, you know Bonhoeffer in a way you’ve never quite understood him before.

I saw this book coming down the pike from Thomas Nelson and I knew it would be one that I would absolutely want to read. Despite its length, I believed it would paint the most thorough picture of Bonhoeffer that I’ve come into contact with. I read Bonhoeffer’s work, Life Together, listened to lectures about the man and watched a biographical movie about it. I was aware of the basics of what Bonhoeffer is sometimes though most famous for – being part of a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

As history has shown, the assassination attempt(s) were unsuccessful. As history has also shown, Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a surprising, honorable, faith-conscious and rather remarkable man. What I’ve never quite understood is how Pastor Bonhoeffer, as he was known in Germany, could have come to a decision wherein his conscience permitted him to be part of a group of men who had intent to kill. It is hard to reconcile how a Christian could come to the decision to take the life of another – even if the other IS Adolf Hitler (a man I have zero admiration for.) Eric Metaxas (author of Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery) presents a work wherein I could finally see Bonhoeffer’s thought processes. Metaxas explains Bonhoeffer’s family, his childhood, his upbringing, the culture in which he lived, the theologians he studied under, the politicians he rubbed elbows with and the people who made up his world in a way that helps make sense of something that has always raised question marks in my own head.

Reading this biography was both insightful and enlightening. I admire Bonhoeffer. I am frustrated by him. He thinks too much and doesn’t seem to connect with the world and society. He doesn’t make sense! At the same time, he makes all the sense in the world. He is admirable. He is annoying. He is – human. Metaxas paints the picture well. I walked away from this book admiring Bonhoeffer’s ideals and understanding what drove him to make the decisions that he did – whether or not I happened to agree with them. Bonhoeffer is a mysterious man and, as Metaxas points out, was misunderstood even in his own time. When most of his peers were of the mindset that that they try to rock the boat as little as possible, Bonhoeffer seemed always to be out in the midst of the stormy seas, purposefully rocking the boat! He made his friends nervous and his family concerned for his safety. However, despite the fact that not everyone in his immediate circle of life always agreed with him, they all unanimously seemed to be of the opinion that Bonhoeffer was a credible and amazing brilliant individual, worthy of honor and they would do whatever they could to protect him and keep him safe.

What is clear, from reading this biography, is that Bonhoeffer was complex in both thought and personality. He’s probably one of the most interesting men that I’ve ever read about. So much of what he stood for and believed in, I agree with my whole heart. I loved his bravery and devotion to doing what he felt that he must do. I admire that. I couldn’t help but think that the choices he had to make were so much easier because the world – during WWII – seemed so black and white. Hitler was undeniably evil to the core and standing up to him took a great deal of bravery that would be hard to find in the world today. Yet at the same time, our own generation suffers greatly from misconceptions and untruths and reading this biography made me wonder how many times I’m ready to give in and ‘tow the party line’ instead of standing up and speaking that which I know to be true. I’m quite cowardly on too frequent of a basis and reading this book inspired me to really know what I believe and stand ready to explain and defend it when I’m called upon to do so. I think that standing for truth looks different for various people at various times in their life but one thing is certain – Bonhoeffer was born at a specific point in history to stand for particular truths. I think, on the whole, he did so admirably.

I was very impressed by Metaxas’ writing style and the length is only a problem if you have a limited amount of time to make it through a book. Give yourself some time and I think you’ll find Bonhoeffer: A Biography to be historically accurate, insightful and thought-provoking. I originally meant to spend a week reading it, but that time frame was expanded somewhat because of the depth of detail that Metaxas goes into when laying out Bonhoeffer’s life. He is on point, completely on target but I would find myself finishing a chapter and staring off into space for awhile. Why? Because this biography provides so much to think about that it was both fantastic and took some time and effort. In my book (pardon the pun) that means that this book was most excellent and I’m going to give it the five stars (and more) it deserves!

I am delighted to inform you that Thomas Nelson Publishers has offered a copy of Bonhoeffer: A Biography to one of you. To enter? Simply leave a comment below. This contest is open to U.S. Residents only. I hope you will seek this book out to enjoy it and to learn from it. Sure, it’s hefty – but oh so profitable!

The winners from last week’s Claude & Camille giveaway are #6 Linda, #50 erma, #66 blueviolet.

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Carrie comes by her book obsession honestly, having descended from a long line of bibliophiles. She blogs about books regularly at Reading to Know and Reading My Library.

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1 rita April 7, 2010 at 9:12 am

Amazing offer, a biography, and Bonhoeffer no less!

2 edj April 7, 2010 at 9:26 am

I didn’t want to be the first!! I hope I win–I would LOVE to read this! :) Thanks.

3 Casey April 7, 2010 at 9:55 am

Looks like a really interesting book!

4 Laura April 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

I would love to win this. I will definitely look for this bio.

5 bekahcubed April 7, 2010 at 10:24 am

Well, my local library doesn’t have it, and I know I’ve GOT to read it–so I sure hope I win! (Elsewise I’ll have to either buy or ILL it. Ah, the trials and decisions of my life! :-P)

6 Amy April 7, 2010 at 12:14 pm

I’d like to win this book.

7 Amy April 7, 2010 at 12:38 pm

Sign me up! I want to read it for sure!

8 Sheila Deeth April 7, 2010 at 12:53 pm

I’ve been fascinated by him ever since I first met his writing. What a wonderful offer.

9 Jen N April 7, 2010 at 2:04 pm

I would enjoy reading this book, and learning about this man. Thanks for the giveaway!

10 melissa n April 7, 2010 at 3:01 pm

Sounds like a good read! Thanks for the chance !

11 Anita Yancey April 7, 2010 at 3:34 pm

Sounds very interesting. I would very much like to read it.

12 Katie Schroeder April 7, 2010 at 3:59 pm

Sounds like an amazing book that will be a wonderful read.

13 Linda April 7, 2010 at 4:59 pm

I just heard about Bonhoeffer just this morning on Focus on The Family. They are having a 3-part series about WWII. I would LOVE to win this book to increase my knowledge about this man. Please enter me. Thank you.
desertrose5173 at gmail dot com

14 Linda Kish April 7, 2010 at 6:48 pm

I would love to read this book.

lkish77123 at gmail dot com

15 Linda Kish April 7, 2010 at 6:50 pm


lkish77123 at gmail dot com

16 Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith April 7, 2010 at 8:25 pm

Thank you,

Bill ;-)

billsmith2003 (at) gmail (dot) com

Hope you’ll check out my book giveaway:

17 Krista April 7, 2010 at 8:59 pm

I am definitely in a non-fiction mood at the moment and this sounds fascinating. I read Life Together in college. I wasn’t completely thrilled with it, but would love to find out more about his life!

18 Mrs. White April 7, 2010 at 11:03 pm

I would love to win this book! Thank you for offering it!

19 enyl April 8, 2010 at 1:51 am

This biography will make a valueable addition to my Holocaust library.

20 Stacy April 8, 2010 at 3:37 am

I’d love to read this! I was going to snag it when it came through on Thomas Nelson but I was too late.

21 Janet April 8, 2010 at 5:02 am

Wonderful review, Carrie. I’ve had the same question: how could he have become part of an assassination plot? Probably a question it would take 600 pages to answer!

22 Anna April 8, 2010 at 8:43 am

This sounds fascinating! I hope it’s okay to link to this post on War Through the Generations.

23 Alison S. April 8, 2010 at 10:50 am

Oooo! I would love to get this book. I love history and I know my mom would enjoy reading it after me.

24 Tracy April 8, 2010 at 1:41 pm

sounds intersting.

25 Rick Duncan April 8, 2010 at 2:57 pm

Thanks for the review. As a pastor, I am always interested in seeing how other pastors led spiritually. I’m sure I would be inspired to follow Christ more closely and to be a better example to the congregation I serve. Thanks for the opportunity.

26 Karen Harris April 8, 2010 at 7:11 pm

I would love to read a biography of Bonhoeffer! Thank you for your generous offer!

27 Corinne April 9, 2010 at 8:56 am

I’d love to read this. Thanks for the opportunity!

28 Amy April 9, 2010 at 1:09 pm

Would enjoy reading this for sure!

29 Page Turner (Heather) April 9, 2010 at 2:22 pm

This is going near the top of my TBR list regardless of whether I win or not (but I hope I do!).

30 Sharon Walling (sharon54220) April 9, 2010 at 4:53 pm

I love reading biographies. Thanks for the chance.

31 Vicki Wurgler April 9, 2010 at 7:58 pm

sounds so good -I’d love to win

32 Francine Anchondo April 9, 2010 at 9:28 pm

Thanks for the giveaway would love to read this.

33 JHS April 10, 2010 at 1:08 pm

I definitely want to read this book as I love biographies & have been fascinated by the pastor for a long time. He has been much preached & talked about in my particular church (Lutheran) over the years. I enjoyed reading your review.

34 Some Lucky Dog April 10, 2010 at 2:58 pm

This sounds like a wonderful history lesson as well as an insightful biography. I think hubby would like it, too.

35 Megret April 10, 2010 at 9:23 pm

I’d love to win! My dad would probably be the giftee — he loves studying Bonhoeffer.
musesofmegret (at) gmail (dot) com

36 Megret April 10, 2010 at 9:24 pm

I’m a subscriber.

37 Michele Anne April 10, 2010 at 11:01 pm

looks interesting…would love to win…sign me up

38 deb April 11, 2010 at 8:56 pm

love to give this to my husband

39 Christy H. April 11, 2010 at 11:09 pm

Sounds like a great read ~ please enter me

40 Stacy Taylor April 12, 2010 at 7:51 am

Would love to win this. Looks like a great read!

41 DarcyO April 12, 2010 at 8:44 am

I’d love to read this one. Please include me.

42 katklaw777 April 12, 2010 at 6:25 pm

Great book to giveaway, I’d like to read it, thanks.

43 Jessica in M April 12, 2010 at 6:50 pm

Oh, I would love to win!

44 Mozi Esmes Mommy April 13, 2010 at 12:24 am

I’d love to read this! We posted about this giveaway at Winning Readings:

janemaritz at yahoo dot com

45 Julia April 13, 2010 at 3:24 pm

Have read some of Bonhoeffer’s work and would love to read this.


46 Melissa M. April 13, 2010 at 3:34 pm

He is a fascinating person. Please enter me in the giveaway, thanks.

47 Cindy Woolard April 13, 2010 at 6:50 pm

I would love to win this book. Please enter me in your giveaway & thank you for the opportunity.

Smiles & Blessings,
Cindy W.


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