The Doubled Life of Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Diane Reynolds. Wipf and Stock/Cascade, $51 (466p) ISBN 978-1-4982-0656-3
PW reviewer and contributor Reynolds ambitiously treads where many have gone before with this biography of 20th-century German theologian Bonhoeffer, whose involvement in anti-Nazi resistance led to his execution in April 1945, three short weeks before Adolf Hitler committed suicide as the Third Reich collapsed. Reynolds focuses on the women in Bonhoeffer's life, who were many and influential; Bonhoeffer had a female twin, a fiancée, and a patron. He also had a close male friend, Eberhard Bethge, who became Bonhoeffer's definitive biographer. Using letters, photos, and published writings, Reynolds studies the social ecology of her subject, placing him in context to show whom he loved and how those relationships mattered. She doesn't argue for a romantic or sexual relationship between Bonhoeffer and Bethge, but makes a convincing case that their special friendship fit no conventional category. Her study also implicitly calls attention to the job and presumptions of any biographer. Given the complexity of the social network in which she locates Bonhoeffer, a list of figures in his life would have been helpful, as would photographs she refers to that are not included. The field of Bonhoeffer studies will benefit from this balanced correction to popular hagiography. (Mar.)
Reviewed on: 03/14/2016
Genre: Religion
Paperback - 466 pages - 978-0-227-17632-0
Open Ebook - 466 pages - 978-1-4982-0657-0
Hardcover - 466 pages - 978-1-4982-0658-7
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