Just added: Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy by Eric Metaxas.  Looks interesting; my knowledge of Bonhoeffer is, sadly, limited.  Read a review of this bio in the Wall Street Journal at lunch; here’s a portion:

Bonhoeffer by Eric Metaxas

Martyr

Since the 1960s, some of Bonhoeffer’s admirers have seized upon a phrase from one of his letters—”religionless Christianity”—to argue that he favored social action over theology. In fact, Bonhoeffer used the phrase to suggest the kind of ritualistic and over-intellectualized faith that had failed to prevent the rise of Hitler. It was precisely religionless Christianity that he worried about. After a 1939 visit to New York’s Riverside Church, a citadel of social-gospel liberalism, he wrote that he was stunned by the “self-indulgent” and “idolatrous religion” that he saw there. “I have no doubt at all that one day the storm will blow with full force on this religious hand-out,” he wrote, “if God himself is still anywhere on the scene.”

As the storms of hatred raged in Germany, Bonhoeffer moved beyond “confession”—that is, preaching and writing—and into rebellion. By the summer of 1940, he was recruited by Adm. Wilhelm Canaris and others as a double agent for their conspiracy against Hitler, an effort that operated out of the Abwehr (Nazi military intelligence). Henceforth he would pretend allegiance to the regime and pass along to the conspirators—whose goal was Hitler’s assassination—whatever intelligence he could gather. He depended on deception for his survival.

It was a bizarre role for a religious man, and a hitherto loyal German citizen, to play. As Mr. Metaxas notes: “For a pastor to be involved in a plot whose linchpin was the assassination of the head of state during a time of war, when brothers and sons and fathers were giving their lives for their country, was unthinkable.” And yet it became thinkable for Bonhoeffer precisely because his understanding of faith required more than adhering to tidy legalisms about truth-telling and nonviolence.

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Books I Really Should Have

On December 1, 2009, in Books I'd Like, General, by marc

Books I’d Like, Vol. IV

On November 20, 2009, in Books I'd Like, Culture, General, War, by marc

I’m currently reading Big Story: How the American Press and Television Reported and Interpreted the Crisis of Tet 1966 in Vietnam and Washington.  It’s an interesting read, but I’m finding that I’m pretty uninformed about the ins and outs of Vietnam in general.  The thesis of Big Story is that press portrayals of the Tet offensive by the communists portrayed the battle as a disaster for the Americans, and the negative image portrayed by the press led to massive political repercussions in the US, and ultimately, probably the eventual collapse of the war effort in Vietnam.  In reading, I’m finding that I really know very little about the history and geography of the war, so I set about looking for a decent account of the conflict with some current perspective.

Here’s what I found: A Better War: The Unexamined Victories and the Final Tragedy of America’s Last Years in Vietnam. A review:

A Better War by Lewis Sorley

A Better War by Lewis Sorley

There was a moment when the United States had the Vietnam War wrapped up, writes military historian Lewis Sorley (biographer of two Vietnam-era U.S. Army generals, Creighton Abrams and Harold Johnson). “The fighting wasn’t over, but the war was won,” he says in this convention-shaking book. “This achievement can probably best be dated in late 1970.” South Vietnam was ready to carry on the battle without American ground troops and only logistical and financial support. Sorley says that replacing General Westmoreland with Abrams in 1968 was the key. “The tactics changed within fifteen minutes of Abrams’s taking command,” remarked one officer. Abrams switched the war aims from destruction to control; he was less interested in counting enemy body bags than in securing South Vietnam’s villages.A Better War is unique among histories of the Vietnam War in that it focuses on the second half of the conflict, roughly from Abrams’s arrival to the fall of Saigon in 1975. Other volumes, such as Stanley Karnow’s Vietnam and Neil Sheehan’s A Bright Shining Lie, tend to give short shrift to this period. Sorley shows how the often-overlooked Abrams strategy nearly succeeded–indeed, Sorley says it did succeed, at least until political leadership in the United States let victory slip away. Sorley cites other problems, too, such as low morale among troops in the field, plus the harmful effects of drug abuse, racial disharmony, and poor discipline. In the end, the mighty willpower of Abrams and diplomatic allies Ellsworth Bunker and William Colby was not enough. But, with its strong case that they came pretty close to winning, A Better War is sure to spark controversy. –John J. Miller

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Books I’d Like…

On November 20, 2009, in Books I'd Like, General, by marc

…has been updated.  I mean, just in case you’ve been thinking that you’d like to pick something up for me.

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Books I’d Like Volume II

On October 24, 2009, in Culture, Humor, by marc

OK, these deserve their own post; they just don’t fit with any of the other books on the list right now.

I’m led to believe that Wuthering Bites will be next in the series.

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Books I’d Like, Vol. 1

On October 23, 2009, in Economics, Reformed Theology, Theology, by marc

This seems like as good a place as any to start keeping a list of books I’d like to add to my library, so let’s rock and roll.