I’ve been itching to get my hands on a copy of one of the books in Simonetta Carr’s acclaimed “Christian Biographies for Young Readers” series for years now. So when I had the opportunity to write a review for her book on Martin Luther (which is her latest addition to the series) I jumped at the chance! I’m a church history buff (I’ve been both studying and teaching on the subject for years now) so I’m always fascinated to read more about Luther and the Reformation.
Of course one of the great challenges in a work like this is to present the basic outlines and significance of Luther’s life in a way that does justice to both the man and his times. Too many accounts of his life (particularly ones intended for young readers) fall into hagiography or stop the story just as it’s beginning. Simonetta Carr does neither of those things. Instead she offers her readers an informative and engaging introduction to Luther’s life from birth to death. She hits the high points of his dramatic story (his abrupt decision to become a monk, dramatic conversion, and stirring courage in the face of Papal displeasure) without painting him as a spotless saint (she talks about the horrors of the Peasant’s War, the troubles he faced in the work of Reformation, and his unfortunate tirades against the Jews later in his life). The prose is steadily written and easily read. The illustrations are lavish and the visual material arresting. The book is beautifully produced and well-made.
One of the things that most surprised and delighted me about the book was how many facts and tid-bits were new to me. Even though I’ve been learning about Luther for years she had a wonderful way of weaving striking new insights into this introductory text. She managed to write a book that is both accessible to new readers and engaging for those who are already familiar with her subject. I give this book high marks on all counts and now I’m itching to get my hands on the rest of the series!
I would like to thank the good folks over at Cross Focused Reviews for providing me with a free review copy of this book. I was not obligated to provide a positive review.