Friends, last week I received a package from the folks over at ABRAMS Books, inside I found a hardcover copy of John Hendrix’s new book The Faithful Spy. To be honest it’s official title is The Faithful Spy: Dietrich Bonhoeffer and the Plot to Kill Hitler. I believe that this combination of graphic novel and prose history book is quite possibly one of the best books I’ve had the pleasure of reading this year. It is quite frankly an astounding true story concerning Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and how this Lutheran pastor stood up against not just the moral collapse of his countrymen but attempted to defy the Nazi Regime.
The Faithful Spy features handwritten text and art, all beautifully meshed together. Which is why of course I said it was a combination of graphic novel and prose format. I believe this excerpt from the book itself will better illustrate the point I’m attempting to make.
John Hendrix’s book gives a thorough and straight forward account of Bonhoeffer’s early years. Giving us a fascinating insight of both his early Family life and beliefs, helping us to understand the path that Dietrich would take to become the man he is remembered as being. Hendrix in addition wisely takes time to explain why the people of Germany, through the economic punishment of the Treaty of Versailles after the end of the first World War, could be swayed by the histrionic and vehement words of Adolph Hitler and his Nazi regime.
As John explains, Bonhoeffer had the ability to travel around the world a bit in his youth for postgraduate studies in theology. Which is how he ended up in New York City during the Great Depression, witnessing not only the construction and completion of the Empire State Building – but forming friendships with two fellow Union Theological Seminary students. It is with the help of these two young men that Bonhoeffer was able to see a different view in his studies and aided him in beginning to mold the beliefs he would later teach. Dietrich was witness firsthand to the prejudice that Frank Fisher, a black student who introduced him to the Abyssinian Baptist Church in Harlem, was sadly accustomed to. And with Dietrich’s friendship with Jean Lasserre, the young man began to question if there was a difference between one’s duty to their country and their religious beliefs. It was this study abroad as Hendrix illustrates that helped Bonhoeffer to see the world and the church itself in a different light.
John hasn’t delivered a stuffy book in the least, thanks in no small part of including actual quotes from Bonhoeffer himself, all of which gives us a better understanding of the man and his ideals. We can see why Dietrich would take action by forming his ‘rebel seminary’ in opposition of the ‘Reich Church’, whose goals were aligned with the April 7th 1933 Aryan Paragraph . Basically if you were of Jewish heritage, or married to someone of Jewish descent you were not allowed to hold an office in the civil service nor be affiliated with the church.
The Faithful Spy successfully manages to convey the life and world events that would lead an ordained pastor to become a spy, a double agent even, for a conspiracy to eliminate Adolph Hitler. In actuality that would lead to two separate attempts on the life of the Fuhrer! A third attempt in 1944, that Dietrich was not part of due to his imprisonment, was known Operation: Valkyrie. You might remember seeing the trailer for the 2008 film, with Tom Cruise portraying Colonel Claus von Stauffenberg.
[Via] Trailers Playground HD
Friends, I have mentioned before on this site, that I have always loved history – learning of what came before. John Hendrix‘s latest book sheds light on one of the darkest events in our history, of that there is no doubt whatsoever. More importantly however it gives the gift of understanding, in this case of the extraordinary man that Dietrich Bonhoeffer was. The Faithful Spy will be available at better book dealers on September 18th – this upcoming Tuesday!