trying to see the world with my ears
This is a great listen for the social history detail of the period and also for following the development of a courageous man's thinking about moral issues: To arrive at nonviolence as a personal philosphy, and yet face circumstances where involvement in a violent plot is the "last resort" solution to a desperate situation becomes a moral choice! For me, Bonhoeffer is the great the icon of the 20th century, with all its moral dilemmas, and this bio does him justice. It also helps in understanding how otherwise good people -- so many of Bonhoeffer's fellow citizens -- slide into and rationalize immoral choices.
I hesistated to download this because I had found Metaxas' Amazing Grace to be a bit rambling and the tone a bit odd, but Bonhoeffer is both a stronger bio and is better narrated.
I'm an adult high school history teacher, and I am always amazed that most students (even those who know great detail of WWII battles etc.) have NEVER heard of Bonhoeffer. I hope this book and the deserved publicity it is getting change that. Nevermind Valhalla - Bonhoeffer's story deserves a Hollywood film all its own.
This is not exactly Downton Abbey fan fiction -- it has more substance than that. But in the intro the author rightly states that she's not writing history, biography or a novel --it's sort of a combo of all those genres - and as much about the estate as the Countess. It wouldn't succeed as strictly bio, novel or history, but take the listen for what it is-- splendid background to late Victoriana transitioning to Edwardian and beyond. I think it would be really useful listening for fans of historical fiction or period novels who might not "get" some of the references to the times when they made obliquely. I enjoyed the social history portrait for itself, understanding that it's not a critical look at the people or times depicted.
McCaddon delivers this with all the formal Brit-ness the listen deserves, and since she (or any of her audio alter egos) seems to be the kind narrator that reviewers either love or hate, listen carefully to the sample if you are unfamiliar with her.
Whatever the demerits of the book as outlined by some very good previous reviews, for someone like me -- a white Canadian who had never looked into the life of Malcolm X any deeper than the film and excerpts from the Autobiography-- this was an engaging and informative read. Some have described it as scholarly; others dispute its scholarship. For me, it read like a novel and motivated me to learn more about Malcolm X. Don't be put off by the word "scholarly" --it's far from a snooze.
I am writing this review for both volumes and putting it in both places. This is a well narrated story written by what has been described as the best biographer of the 20th Century about a man who was perhaps the greatest man to live in the 20th Century. What's not to like?
Both volumes have advantages over the other (listed below), but bottom line is that both are marvelous works. I doubt too many will be able to read Volume I without soon proceeding to Volume II. Volume I pluses include a better narrator (***** vs ****) (I was impressed with his mature Churchill voice and amazed that he started with a good child Churchill and gradually aged him into the famous voice we all love!), a more narrative/chronological layout as opposed to more topical, and illumination of the transition of the Victorian age through WWI and up to the Depression. This is a time of which I knew little relative to what came before and after. Volume II has the obvious advantage of fleshing out the rise of Hitler and explaining how the Appeasers were a product of their times.
I know it will take close to 80 hours to listen to both, but the time will fly and you will wish you could listen to Volume III, which was unfortunately never written. Both books are great though I slightly preferred the first volume.