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Publisher's Summary

In the charnel house that was Europe in the Second World War, there were few instances of shining moral courage, let alone secular sainthood. Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian and Nazi resister, was the exception. This emblematic figure risked his life, and finally lost it, through his participation in a failed plot to assassinate Hitler and topple his regime. Saints and Villains gives us this exemplary life in a sweeping narrative that is bold in conception and utterly convincing in its power of imaginative reconstruction.

Here is Bonhoeffer experiencing the awakening of his social conscience while witnessing racism in the United States during his studies at Union Theological Seminary; leading a breakaway church in Germany as the Nazis rise to power; entering a dangerous liaison with a Jewish woman; undertaking perilous clandestine meetings abroad under cover of official church and intelligence business; and living the dark night of the soul in prison after the plotters fail in their assassination attempt.

Saints and Villains is a gripping and resonant novel that confronts the painful dilemmas that beset righteous men in times of great evil, when sin and necessity seem entwined. It is historical fiction of a very high order and of startling pertinence to our time.

©1998 Denise Giardina (P)1998 Blackstone Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"[A] panoramic story...This novelized version of the pastor's life by Giardina manages the extremely difficult task of giving a known story genuine tension and spiritual resonance." (Publishers Weekly) "A splendid novel about a splendid man." (Philadelphia Inquirer)

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  • Overall
  • Connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 05-28-08

a story most relevant today

At first I didn't trust the form of "novelized biography," fearing that I would leave it with misapprehended facts like a bad docudrama, but the author does a respectible job in the after word of setting the listener straight on fact vs fiction in her tale. The ficitonalized parts don't seem to depart too much farther from "facts" about the subject than a writer's interpretative voice usually does. And what a tale! I listened over a year ago, and the story is still with me and motivated me to read several of Bonhoeffer's essays.

The author did a very skillful job of conveying both the man's spiritual development and his ideas within a gripping narrative. I think the narration style is very appropriate for its subject.

11 of 11 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Disappointed

I enjoyed the book OK. I was disappointed in the bad language and I had a hard time following the story, it seemed to skip around.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Misleading...

I generally like historically based novels...but this is an exception. You learn early that, unlike the real Bonhoeffer, the character in this book is not attempting to be a follower of Jesus. Instead he is blaspheming and getting drunk, etc. I understand authors need liberty, but this was so far from the truth that I couldn't bring myself to continue listening. If a historically based novel needs to be relatively close to reality for you to enjoy, you will not like this one...Not worth a credit.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful