John Hendrix, The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler (Amulet Books, 2018), 172 pages.
I first heard of Dietrich Bonhoeffer while driving home from work one evening. His story intrigued me, so I went and purchased my first biography of him. It was written by Eberhard Bethge, one of Bonhoeffer’s students and close friend. The massive work was thoroughly enjoyable! I wanted to learn more, so I purchased some more biographies, books written by Bonhoeffer, and even works that address his theological views.
With that said, Bonhoeffer can be an overwhelming figure. Regardless of your agreements with his theological views, the man was blessed with an incredible intellect. His entire family stood at the top of most of their fields. Add to that the enormous conflict that was World War II, and Bonhoeffer becomes similar to Mt. Everest, only a few brave people can climb its height.
That is where John Hendrix’s work comes in. He writes at the end of the work, “This story is not primarily a work of scholarship but a work of art.” (170) He is right. It is a work of art. The graphic pictures, stark color contrasts, and handwritten font all give a glimpse at his ability. More than simply a work of art, however, is the story of one of the most influential pastor-theologians of our time. Add to this the discussions of world events, particularly within Germany, and you have Hendrix’s work.
Several positive aspects are worth noting. First, I love the art work. Many of the pictures display exquisite detail. Hendrix uses 3-4 shades of colors, which is easy on the eyes. The story of Hitler’s rise to power, Bonhoeffer’s inner conflict, and the actions of many Germans can be read from the artwork alone. Another great asset to the work is the font. It is handwritten, which I loved! It changes from all capitals to regular print. The colors, size, and placement of the font is varied as well. Each page provides a new layout for the reader’s eyes, and yet the consistent use of color schemes and font give a holistic feel to the book. One final aspect worth mentioning is the story itself. I am amazed at how Hendrix gives such an excellent overview of Germany, WWII, and Bonhoeffer. I could never author such a work! After reading Bethge’s 933 pages, I cannot imagine dwindling it down to 167 pages! Yet, Hendrix does so without leaving out any key details.
This work would be excellent for the average individual. It is also helpful for the scholar. Most importantly, it is great for anyone wanting to know history and how pastors can have influence in the community at large.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the author and/or publisher through the Speakeasy blogging book review network. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR,Part 255.