The story of the 16th-century German monk and the start of the Protestant Reformation.
Martin Luther’s life and work are presented as the origin of the modern social justice movement. Archival portraits, maps, and documents on glossy pages play a prominent role in this attractive book. Some design elements are problematic, however. A decorative initial “F” is easily mistaken for an “E,” making the line “Fast. Pray. Work” one that’s easy to stumble over: is it “East. Pray. Work”? “Eat. Pray. Work”? Short sentences and simple narrative suggest a young audience, yet the vocabulary—theology, heresy, edict, recant—assumes a working knowledge of church history, implying an older audience. Some clunky phrasing (possibly due to the translation) could lead to misinterpretation: of Lutheranism’s spread around the world, Elschner states that “as ships reached the coast of North America emigrants founded the first communities, many with Protestant churches.” A transition from Luther’s life to contemporary times is achieved somewhat awkwardly by equating Luther’s posting of his 95 theses with Martin Luther King’s “I Have a Dream” speech, notwithstanding the possibly greater influence of Gandhi on King’s activism. Perhaps in an effort to make the Reformation feel relevant to modern readers, this biography opens with the words “Here is where it all began” and ends with “The name of Martin Luther lives on, now doubled, and continues to travel across borders.”
Sunday school teachers may find this useful to supplement their students’ knowledge of the Reformation. (Biography. 7-12)