Title: Luther: Biography of a Reformer
Author: Frederick Nohl
Major Themes: Germany, Martin Luther
Synopsis: Martin Luther set off a major revolution in the Catholic church in Germany, with affects throughout the rest of the Western world.
We’ve had Luther: Biography of a Reformer on the shelf for several years now, but I had never read it. When my oldest went through Sonlight’s World History program, she read the book by herself, but it was one that I didn’t get around to pre-reading. She really enjoyed it, though, so I was glad to get the chance to read it to my boys this month, now that we’ve reached the Reformation era in our journey through world history.
One of the first things I noticed about this book was the quality of the binding and the paper. It’s a hardcover, with thick, glossy pages—lovely to handle! I enjoyed the color photos throughout the story, as well. They are stills from a movie about Luther, which it would be interesting to watch now that we’ve seen these pictures.
It is difficult to write a biography in an engaging tone. Most biographies end up being dry recitals of facts. Frederick Nohl has done a good job with this book, though. He has broken up the text into many short subheadings, and that helps keep you moving. The story of Luther’s life, from birth to death, is told in many short snippets. We didn’t find it exactly engrossing, but quite readable and interesting. At one point we were absolutely shocked at a decision Luther made, but glad a few paragraphs later when he reversed his thinking, after realizing he was wrong!
One thing we noticed is that the author is apparently whole-heartedly Lutheran. He states several times that Luther’s teachings were “built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets.” Personally, I don’t agree with everything Luther taught, specifically going to war and baptizing babies. I do believe there is great value in studying Luther’s life, however, because he sparked a true revival in the church.
If you’re looking for a good biography of Luther for your preteens or early teens, seek out a copy of Luther: Biography of a Reformer. Unfortunately, it is out of print at this writing; Sonlight has replaced it with another book. I’m glad we got this one while it was in print!
Listening Level—Ages 10 – 12
Reading Independently—Ages 10 – 12, 12 – 15