College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
I have read most of Bonhoffer's work and many, many biographies, and this stands as the best and most comprehensive. Metaxas does a wonderful job of placing Bonhoeffer in his times, showing the many sides of him usually left out or lightly sketched in other books about the great Christian martyr. In the end, the life of Bonhoeffer, so well rendered here, stands as a clarion call to all of us to rise up in our lives and live our faith all the way out. Metaxas' rendering of this great life is a must read.
in terms, but Koonz is very careful to define "conscience" not as reflection and action based upon a universal sense of morality and ethos, but rather, as it was with the Nazis: a relativistic Weltanschauung, a monolithic Zeitgeist that guides an insular society to see their way of doing things, no matter how evil or perverted, as right...and even as the morally correct way of thinking and living life. This book is an excellent addition to anyone's library of WWII and Holocaust literature, in that Koonz does what not many dare to: she looks at things the way the Nazis did; takes their historical and cultural point of view--without, of course, abandoning the broader view that, in the final analysis, shows the Nazi regime for what it truly was: a despicable and reprehensible machine of murder and mayhem. I am reading this book after three excellent volumes on the Nazi's: The Nazi and the Psychiatrist, Hanns & Rudolph, and Hitler's Furies. I recommend they be taken together, because all four of these books go beyond the bare history to search out the human factor, and to puzzle once more over what compels otherwise normal people to take part in such loathsome and nefarious acts as those that played out during the terrible reign of the Third Reich.
concerning WWII, the Nazi regime and the horrors of the Holocaust, I can honestly state that Wendy Lower uncovers perhaps the most neglected aspect of Hitler's reign of terror: the role of women. Sure, if one is widely read, the names Irma Grese and Ilsa Koch will have been encountered a time or two, but if you took nearly all of the histories of Nazi Germany to date, you might think that it had been almost entirely a male project. Lower points out very adroitly that this is truly a narrow view of what amounted to a cultural revolution---and that the culture in question was half female. As with literature on psychopaths, so with Nazi Germany: namely, that the evils of women have lain under the cover of more outwardly acting males, allowing, of course, the evil side of femininity to course through history almost unnoticed--and unchecked. Now, given another review, I must note that this is an academic work, and not chucked full of sexy gore, so if "meaty bits" are more your style, perhaps the film Ilsa, She-Wolf Of The SS might be more to your liking. But if you want a clear and intelligent investigation of a grossly underinvestigated aspect of WWII, this is the book for you. (I read this book on the heels of Jack El-Hai's The Nazi And The Psychiatrist and Thomas Harding's Hanns And Rudolph, and I recommend that they be taken along with this book.)
trying to see the world with my ears
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.