I read Metaxas’ Bonhoeffer and consider it a difficult book (because of the subject) but a book that I’m glad to have read. It brought out a lot of detail about the life and death of Dietrich Bonhoeffer and introduced me to his theologic legacy.
At B&N the other day I saw 7 More Men, which is a compilation of biographies of Martin Luther, George Whitfield, William Booth, George Washington Carver, Sergeant Alvin York, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, and Billy Graham. It turns out this is a follow-up to Seven Men and Seven Women, but I was unaware. I knew the author from Bonhoeffer and jumped in.
Bonhoeffer is exhaustive at 639 pages and touches on many parts of the man’s life. 7 More Men is light reading at 247, especially when those pages are divided between seven subjects. Each section covers that big points in the person’s life, explains the challenges they faced, and describes what made them extraordinary. I appreciated that each of these men were somewhat ordinary folks who are distinguished in their service, making the lessons drawn accessible. The exception to this is Carver, who was intellectually extraordinary.
I’ve read a bit about Luther, Whitfield and Graham, but the material presented here was fresh. I knew a little about Carver, York, Solzhenitsyn, and Booth and hearing their stories was revelatory. I’ve never been quite sure how to take the Salvation Army, but Booth’s story really opened my eyes.
There’s probably not enough material here to draw a lot of application from. Stubborness as a character feature comes through in all cases, but otherwise it’s just an opportunity to familiarize yourself with the outlines of their stories. Because of the short chapters, the delivery comes across as simplistic. There’s not a lot of comparisons or contrasts drawn to explore particular areas and Metaxas gift for understanding isn’t really taxed in these tellings.
I teach young men and there’s definitely enough here for me to use in those discussions and to help them see that ordinary people of faith can become inbued with purpose and accomplish fantastic things.
This is a good book, well written, about fascinating subjects. By it’s nature, it’s a quick and easy read.