Nearly seventy years after his execution by the Nazis in 1945, Bonhoeffer continues to fascinate and inspire people of all ages and religious persuasions. This new biography focuses as never before on Bonhoeffer’s inner life – his doubts, fears and weaknesses, as well as his immense intellectual achievements, his hopes for the world and his country, and his courageous death.
Here we see Bonhoeffer as a child, and then as a young man: the scion of a wealthy family who rarely went to church but who, at the age of twenty-five, wrote a dissertation that was proclaimed a ‘theological miracle’. We see him in 1930 when he spent ten fateful months in America: a season of dramatic encounters with social reformers, Harlem churchmen and Establishment intellectuals, which gave the young German an utterly new perspective on faith and moral responsibility. We see him return to Germany, to a ministry for the downtrodden. We witness his vocal denunciation of Germany’s treatment of the Jews, and his anti-Nazi activism. And we see him drawn into the officers’ plot to kill Hitler, for his part in which he would be hanged.
Throughout the book, Charles Marsh laces his elegant prose with telling extracts from Bonhoeffer’s own letters and papers, creating in the mind of the reader a vivid sense of Bonhoeffer’s innermost thoughts and feelings, as well as the turbulent times through which he lived.