REVIEW: The Faithful Spy
The Faithful Spy
By John Hendrix
Amulet Books/368 pages/$18.99
Every time you think you’re done hearing amazing stories about individual acts of courage during World War II, another one comes along. In this case, the true story of the German plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler comes in a unique graphic novel that is compelling reading for Middle and High Schoolers.
Dietrich Bonhoffer was a devout Lutheran, a member of a large German family, and destined to be a leader. He went to school, became ordained and was a theologian, teaching and preaching while the storm clouds gathered around Germany. The Nazi Party took advantage of the diaspora surrounding the citizenry, instill outrage at their economic plight and hatred towards the ones responsible for their plight – the Jews.
Bonhoffer’s story is told parallel and intermingled with the rise of Nazi power, a primer to pre-World War II history. Once it became clear that Hitler and his part wanted absolute power, resentment grew in a select few who saw through the artifice. As Chancellor Hitler changed the national dialogue and rebuilt their war machinery in direct violation of the Paris Treaty that ended World War I. A weary Europe tried to ignore them until Hitler seized absolute power in the wake of President Hindenburg’s death. Then the war drums began beating.
Hitler’s actions within Germany are carefully detailed so we see how he incrementally seized control, with events not usually included in historic works, such as Hitler altering prayer so rather than praying to God above all, it was God then Hitler. Yikes.
Concerned, Bonhoffer found himself slowly drawn into a cabal that was determined to exterminate Hitler before he could not be stopped. Yet, while Hitler blitzed his way through Europe, the conspirators proved either inept or unlucky (perhaps both). Obviously, the conspiracy failed as we know, but that makes the book no less interesting. While he was never directly involved in planting failed explosives, he was close enough to eventually be captured and imprisoned.
Hendrix works in a complex style, mixing long stretches of text with illustrations and graphic storytelling elements. There are wonderful sidebars that provide context for events and personnel and much of the dialogue comes straight from Bonhoffer’s own writings, giving the work authenticity. The work is visually interesting, printed in black, magenta, and cyan tones. His style is compelling and clear, just cartoony enough to avoid looking scholarly.
The creator provides notes on sources and a limited bibliography for those interested in learning more about Bonhoffer and his colleagues. By all means, check this one out.