Yesterday I had a chance to read (as it was Martha’s turn to drive), so I picked Eberhard Bethge’s biography of Bonhoeffer, (Dietrich Bonhoeffer: A Biography, Fortress, 2000.) chapter 12, about his political book review. I felt a renewed appreciation for the power of the book review. There are so many different ways to review a book. Bonhoeffer used his review of William Paton’s book The Church and the New Order to communicate that Germany had a resistance group, and that any talk of German disarmament needed to include the future of the German people after Hitler. Wow! Here’s a subversive Christian seeking to influence British public relations via a book review. Gives me hope for this genre of writing.
Too often book reviews seek to simply sell books, or in the case of Jon A. Shields review in the May/June 2008 Books & Culture of Preston Shire’s book Hippies of the Religious Right, titled “State of Protest,” sell the reviewers own forthcoming book! There is nothing more disgusting to me in a book review than disregarding the author’s writing altogether in order to say “Nice topic, pick this direction instead, and read my book.” I can understand this substanceless approach where everyone wins kudos: the review magazine, the book reviewer, and even the author reviewed. Maybe if the reviewer is lucky, the reader won’t question what the actual book was like!
Our vacation has been wonderful. It’s been an adventure. Car trouble and illness, kids squabbling, money worries, all the typical stuff. But we’ve seen some beautiful country. Yellowstone is gorgeous this time of year. There’s plenty of elk and buffalo. Chris Aaron saw a family of bears one morning. We took in some hiking and caving. The journey is not quite over yet but we are very grateful.