John Woodbridge of Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has just published a book with Pulitzer-prize winning journal Maurice Possley that tells a fascinating story: how a gun owned by Adolf Hitler ended up in the possession of his family. That is already an interesting tale, but the book, entitled Hitler in the Crosshairs: A GI’s Story of Courage and Faith (Zondervan, 2011) delves into another story, the strange and faith-building life of an unknown man named Teen Palm, who before helping bring back the gun had traveled a twisting path that led to Jesus Christ.
Here’s what a brief review at Christianity Today said about the book:
Many evangelicals know church historian John Woodbridge for his masterful scholarship. Surely very few know about his personal connection to an astounding World War II heirloom: a golden pistol owned by Adolf Hitler. Nearly six years ago, a news notice of the weapon’s impending auction triggered a flashback, sending Woodridge scrambling to locate surviving relatives of the devout young soldier who snatched it up and gave it to his father. With award-winning journalist Maurice Possley, Woodbridge reconstructs the adventures of Ira “Teen” Palm—whose team raided Hitler’s Munich apartment—and the golden gun this man of faith found in lieu of the Führer.
[T]his is a book about Teen Palm’s Christian faith, which sustained him through the travails of war as friends fell before him. This is a book about Hitler’s pistol, its discovery, theft, and present-day whereabouts. But the authors seek to do much more. They juxtapose Palm’s life, recounted primarily through letters sent to and received from his affectionate wife, with Hitler’s chilling rise to power in Germany. The contrast illustrates how hundreds of thousands of citizen soldiers helped bring down one of history’s most notorious mass murderers.
I look forward to reading this book in full. I got to read draft chapters while at TEDS and thoroughly enjoyed them. This one would be a great summer beach-read. It’s also an example of how a Christian can tell a compelling and accessible story that many people will find interesting.