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on April 13, 2010
On the morning of April 9, 1945, German pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed at Flossenburg concentration camp. The camp doctor, H. Fischer-Hullstrung, later remembered:

[Just before the execution] "I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer kneeling on the floor, praying fervently to God...so certain that God heard his prayer...I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God."

Others testified that, up to his last day, the 39 year old Bonhoeffer remained cheerful. He knew what he had to do, was reconciled to God's will, and was able to climb the steps to the gallows "brave and composed."

Who was this man who died so bravely--who Hitler himself, from his bunker beneath Berlin just three weeks before his suicide, ordered to be "destroyed?" He's the subject of best-selling author Eric Metaxas's new biography, "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy."

Shortly after his conversion in 1988, Metaxas read Bonhoeffer's The Cost of Discipleship and learned the story of the young man who, "because of his Christian faith stood up to the Nazis and ultimately gave his life." From then on, he was determined to tell the story to others. And tell it he has.

Metaxas takes readers, in 592 pages, through Bonhoeffer's entire life, from his parent's courtship to his memorial service. No corner of the subject's life is left unexplored. Through the author's use of Bonhoeffer's personal letters to family and friends, earlier biographies, interviews with those who knew Bonhoeffer, and other thorough research, readers get a comprehensive and balanced look into one of recent history's greatest theologians.

Appropriately, Metaxas emphasizes Bonhoeffer's theology and how it played out in his life. In contrast to "cheap grace," Bonhoeffer believed that true grace influences all aspects of a Christian's life. Christianity is more than formal religion, and it requires believers to be willing to sacrifice everything to God. Christianity is also more than legalistic morality. Ethics, according to Bonhoeffer, can't be reduced to a set of rules. These beliefs are what led this humble and devout follower of Christ to be involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

How Christianity and assassination plots can be reconciled is hard for many to fathom--especially those who have lived only in peace and safety. We must consider Bonhoeffer in the context of his life, his country, and the war that he had no choice but to be a part of. Ethics, once so clear, become unclear. Do we lie to the Nazis, or do we give them information that leads to the deaths of innocents? Do we obey our nation's laws, or do we defy them by leading Jews into safety? Do we fight in Hitler's army, or do we refuse, knowing that we will be beheaded and leave our family destitute? These are some of the questions Bonhoeffer faced.

But readers can sympathize with Bonhoeffer. Metaxas masterfully puts us in his world. We celebrate with him in his family's parlor. We study with him in his illegal seminary. We watch with him as his world unravels. And we see him agonize over decisions, decisions that are not so clear, and decisions that he often had to make without the support of others.

Metaxas's "Bonhoeffer" will be one of the best books of the year. I've learned, as expected, much about the life of a great and inspiring Christian. But I've also learned about the world, sin and evil, what it really means to be a Christian, and what it really means to live. There are a few books that, years after I have read them, I realize have had a great influence on me. This will be one of them. You can't go wrong with this book; I give it my highest recommendation.

I received a free review copy of this book through the Thomas Nelson Booksneeze program.
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on March 15, 2016
I found this to be a marvelous description of the life of an amazing personality and mental giant and of his contributions to the religious beliefs of Christians everywhere. The book also clearly explains how the Nazis created the "Church of Deutschland" and the slanting the Arian definition of a religious group (Jews) into a "racial" group.

The most marvelous aspect of the book, however, I believe to be the portrayal of Bonhoeffer's honesty and his steadfast personal bravery in his quest to support those who wished to define, maintain and practice their "rational" religious beliefs, Metaxas has done a wonderful job in introducing us to this "hero of our age".
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on January 4, 2016
As a non-fiction biography, I braced myself for possible boredom. But, page after page proved to be one cohesive account of a life well lived. This book covers the fate & sufferings of the German people during the years 1932 to 1945. The heart wrenching burden of Bonhoeffer fighting against the Hitler imposed 'State Church' is incredible.
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on December 27, 2012
This was purchased as a gift for someone but it was given to me previously as a gift. I absolutely loved it. I learned so much about the behind the scenes of how the influence of Hitler impacted families throughout the entire country of Germany, and German christians in particular. It's a great read for the history particularly if you know or remember any of the events of WW11. I was a youngster at the time but still have some memories of the war effort in our country and the impact it had on women working outside the home in factiories and the rationing of many things like silk stockings, sugar, shoes and butter to name a few. We had to eat margarine which was nothing more than colored lard & tasted terrrible. All that fits in with the events happening throughout Europe as Hitler ran headlong over countries, killing thousands of fearful, innocent, bewildered people as he went.
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on December 19, 2011
The title says it all, "Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy." What other character in history do you know that was all of these? You'll be hard-pressed I'm sure, if you can think even of one.

Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" is a thorough and detailed glimpse into Dietrich Bonhoeffer's childhood, relationships, theology and ultimate destiny as an executed martyr of The Third Reich.

"Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" is extremely well documented with letters and writings by himself and others. Many of these letters are while he was in prison between himself and his fiancée Maria von Wedemeyer. Unfortunately the two would never be together again outside of prison and never see their dreams fulfilled for a life together.

Through author Eric Metaxas's biography, we learn how Bonhoeffer felt spiritually justified in his participation as a double-agent and key contributor in the strategies to kill Hitler. It was Hitler himself, who just weeks before his own suicide, ordered the execution of Bonhoeffer.

This biography allows readers a complete look into Bonhoeffer's life from the days before his birth all the way through complete words delivered in sermon at his memorial service.

Ultimately we come away with a view of this man, who died at only 39 years of age, as one who knew God's calling on his life and allowed himself to be used knowing the potential risk and ultimate cost.

The doctor present at his death said this: Through the half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God.

"Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy" was recently named "Book of the Year" by the ECPA, won the 2011 John C. Pollock Award for Biography awarded by Beeson Divinity School and a 2011 Christopher Award in the Non-fiction category. It is certainly not a read to be accomplished in a few sittings, but is so full of historical documentation and writings that it is certainly a worthy read and guaranteed that you will learn something new about Bonhoeffer, Hitler or both ... likely the latter.
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on January 31, 2017
Amazing and also terrifying about how evil just nibbles away at you bit by bit, once you go in one layer, the door closes behind you and it is very hard to go back. So many individuals just compromise their lives away, value by value, principal by principal, truth by truth.
Yet Bonhoeffer had the ability to see the Nazis early for what they were, but few seemed to heed his call
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on October 4, 2017
EXCELLENT book. His experiences are incredible, and his life worth replicating. Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a disciplined, highly intelligent, motivated man who loved God, served others, and displayed a level of courage, faith, and dedication rarely seen. Eric Metaxas honored Bonhoeffer with this book. I highly recommend reading this! The only dilemma I'm left with is how I will incorporate the name Dietrich into the name of my next child.
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on March 17, 2017
This biography of an amazing person begs the question of whether I could ever live up to his life, not even thinking about Christ's. But that is the point. Bonhoeffer' entire life purpose was to point us to Christ. Without the power of Christ in our lives, there is no hope but With Him, we can do so much for our communities. Dear Lord, allow me to see this as an inspiration to a closer relationship with Christ and my community. Amen
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on September 19, 2017
This without doubt is one of the very best books I've ever read. The movie is likewise excellent and follows the book without embellishment.
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on May 22, 2015
This account of Dietrich Bonhoffer covered the spiritual & physical life of this extraordinary pastor. The horrific horrors of the Third Reich now known to us were foreseen by this man. Oh if the church in Germany had heeded the warnings. Thanks Eric for this in-depth look at a brave Christian.
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