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In on the plot to kill Hitler

By Martin E. Marty

Princeton University Press, $24.95, 275 pages

Dietrich Bonhoeffer might not be a household name, at least among the current generation. Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s Letters and Papers from Prison: A Biography is a perfect introduction to the man many consider a modern day martyr: he was executed by the Nazis in the plot to assassinate Hitler.

Bonhoeffer was considered a minor Lutheran theologian before the war. Instead he wrote letters from prison and started a book; together these would change how religion would be viewed in the latter half of the 20th Century. His work would no longer be regulated to the dusty shelves of libraries.

This is a biography of his letters and papers, and Martin Marty spends quite a bit of time discussing if it is possible to write a book about a book. Mr. Marty’s answers are not definite, and his ability to go into minutia will bore some readers. It is well worth the trip; the life of a book is different from a person and these letters have enjoyed a long life. They have been used and misused by many people over time and have brought comfort and pain to many readers. These papers, and letters, continue to be read today by students and scholars.

Reviewed by Kevin Winter
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