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Perfect for lay readers who want something more than a mere introduction to Luther.

A meaty autobiography of the Reformation leader.

Metaxas (If You Can Keep It: The Forgotten Promise of American Liberty, 2016, etc.) brings his flair for epic biography that was on such impressive display in his 2010 book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy. Despite a glut of Luther biographies surrounding the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, Metaxas offers something different and special. As in many other works about Luther, the author follows his life chronologically and covers much familiar ground. However, he manages to concentrate on certain aspects of Luther’s life and times that set his work apart. Metaxas expertly introduces the many key players in Luther’s saga in ways that make them understandable and unique to lay readers; notably, he realizes that places are often personae, and he treats the places of the Luther story as characters to be understood for the roles they played. The author relies heavily on primary sources, trusting his audience to read along with him in these documents. Unlike many biographers, Metaxas includes the full text of all 95 Theses (the key to the Reformation’s birth) in the middle of the book, devoting nine pages to them. Elsewhere, readers find an entire letter to Pope Leo X, who excommunicated Luther, and lengthy excerpts from other key source material. Most importantly, Metaxas shares rarely told stories about his subject, adding depth to an understanding of his life. He spends dozens of pages retelling Luther’s decision to marry and the details of his married life, details that are often a mere mention in other biographies. Finally, the Metaxas flair for dramatic language is on full display: “It is indeed as though every medieval mountain were uprooted and the whole Potemkin range of them cast into the heart of the sea….The curtain was whisked back and the papal Oz exposed as a fraud, frantically pulling his ecclesiastical levers.”

Perfect for lay readers who want something more than a mere introduction to Luther.

Pub Date: Oct. 3, 2017

ISBN: 978-1-101-98001-9

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Aug. 21, 2017

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2017

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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