...a meticulously researched and detailed account of Luther’s life and times. This is not a self-consciously psychological study — indeed, he has some fun with historians who put Luther in the psychiatrist’s chair — but it is nevertheless a very human portrait. Metaxas takes us through all the twists and turns of this almost impossibly dramatic life: the bold defiance of hierarchy, the gradual repudiation of the church that had made him … Metaxas is a scrupulous chronicler with an eye for a good story. The result is full, instructive and pacey, but unusually discursive … Metaxas is not unusual in seeing in Luther’s bold defiance of the papacy the birth of modern society.
Metaxas...has written a book that explores Luther's lasting impact - a biography designed to peel back the myths and reveal Luther as the fascinating and influential man he was … Instead of an audacious act of rebellion, Luther's complaint was quieter. In fact, Metaxas says, he didn't know he was about to start an all-out revolution that would create an irreparable divide in the church and change the world. And yet he did.
Metaxas’ relentless hyping of the world-shaking significance of Luther and of each and every aspect of his Reformation is often closer to sermonizing than to the dispassionate tone one would expect from a historian. As a result, the book’s two components should be evaluated individually … Since this is a book aimed at a general audience, its hyperbole and hagiographic bent are understandable, at least to some extent. Complexity, ambiguity and paradox may be sweet nectar for historians, but not necessarily for a broad public that tends to prefer grand generalizations, sound bites and contemporary categories into which to shoehorn historical figures … In brief, of the two distinct but inseparable strands that constitute this book, one is instructive and engaging, the other highly subjective and distracting. The contrast between the two is perplexing but, ultimately, it probably doesn’t matter.