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.
I feared that this would be overly sentimental and pious, but it is a good bio, using many primary sources. And it is Davidman's bio, not that of Mrs. C.S. Lewis. Although touted as the story behind the movie Shadowlands, it's much more comprehensive; in the intro to a second edition, the author clarifies a couple of fictions in that movie.
The bio is written with obvious fondness for Davidman and well-narrated by Reading. The book makes a good companion to Alan Jacobs' brief bio of C.S. Lewis, The Narnian, in which a slightly different interpretation is given to some of Davidson's relationship with Lewis.
While not a simplistic bio of Lewis, it's not overly academic either. Neither is it (thankfully) an interpretation key for Chronicles of Narnia. Although Jacobs' thesis is that Lewis expressed his imaginative world best (consciously or unconsciously) through Narnia, he covers all Lewis' work. Jacobs creates a skilful and entertaining biography, weaving together smoothly discussion of Lewis' fiction and nonfiction with bio details and some interpretation of those life experiences.
Occasionally, however, the book sounds like C.S. Lewis for Dummies--Jacobs will cite a passage of Lewis (quite well expressed by itself) then explain it in his own words. Jacobs assumes the listener is unfamiliar with early/mid century British culture and details the school system etc. that would be familiar to even occasional readers of Brit lit. There are also short digressions about Chesterton, Housemen and others who influenced Lewis--not enough to bore someone familiar with them, but enough to situate a reader who isn't. It's very much a conversion story and an exposition of Lewis' attacks on moral relativism, instumentalism and conformity, but the bio ends with the older, wiser Lewis transcending the words and doctrines of the middle-aged apologist with images.
Overall an enjoyable listen, neither heavy nor lightweight, a bio skilfully and lovingly written and narrated by Jacobs so as to surprise with joy even a tepid fan of CS Lewis like me.