Sunday Book Reviews – 8/19/18

Bookshelf books, photo by Alien Motives

Letters and Papers from Prison by Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1953, Widerstand und Ergebung)

This book serves as part of what I consider to be the victims’ trilogy of World War 2, beside the Diary of Anne Frank and Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.

Bonhoeffer was a Christian pastor who spoke out against Hitler’s euthanasia program and against the persecution of Jews.  Recognizing the inherent immorality of the Nazis, he chose his faith and his view of humanity’s virtues over a comfortable life with his fiancee and his parents as a mild promoter of Hitler.

Anne Frank provides a look at the horrors enacted upon the innocent and Frankl gives us a glimpse into the value of hope and reason from the inside of a concentration camp. Bonhoeffer, through his steadfast efforts to render aid to other prisoners and grant some solace to his family outside of the prison walls, reminds us that there is an absolute worth to the fundamental tenets of human decency.

The book collects the letters he wrote, sermons given, and associated ephemera from the time he was incarcerated.  Through it all, despite enduring continued hardship and deprivation, he not only maintains his faith but also uses the time to more deeply examine it.

This is in many ways a counterpoint to Frankl’s book.  Frankl expected to die on any given day in the camp; Bonhoeffer optimistically informs his fiancee that he expects to be released soon.  Frankl survived and attempted to explore the reason of what had happened; Bonhoeffer was hanged for treason after trying to explore the morality of what had happened.  Both are exercises in humanity, from deep within the depths of inhumanity.

Spectrum 20 by Artie & Cathy Fenner, (Underwood Books, 2013.)

The Spectrum series has run for a quarter of a century at this point, and with the exception of the first, had been a showcase for the best art talent working in speculative fiction fields.

They focus on fine art, sculpture, comic art and everything related.  Because they rely on pieces submitted by the artists, the books have sections with otherwise-unreleased and unpublished art.

It bills itself as the best in contemporary fantastic art, and it consistently lives up to that description, using a variety of styles, mediums and artists to showcase the possibilities within the field.

The only real issue with the book is the price.  All art books tend to be expensive, because they use thicker, higher-quality pages.  These are no exception.  Early editions typically had fewer than 200 pages, but the later ones had more than 300… which led to the prices being higher.  At $50 for the paperback edition, it demonstrates that art isn’t cheap.

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About AlienMotives 1991 Articles
Ex-Navy Reactor Operator turned bookseller. Father of an amazing girl and husband to an amazing wife. Tired of willful political blindness, but never tired of politics. Hopeful for the future.