Monday, April 10, 2023

Tortured for Christ

Right off the bat, let me just say I review vintage paperbacks. I love paperbacks. Bestsellers, Lowsellers, Nosellers, it makes no difference to me. But, I also do enjoy reading and reviewing paperbacks that were a sensation at the time of their publication. Books that flew off of shelves for no real reason other than just “you had to be there” sort of thing. 

Before you roll your eyes and think Paperback Warrior is now Paperback Priest, I'm reviewing Tortured for Christ because it is a vintage book from 1967, it was a sensation in multiple countries and languages, and for the most part it has everything I love - high adventure, military combat, WW2 history, good guys fighting bad guys, espionage prison, and escapism. So, if I'm going to read The Great Escape, If I Die in a Combat Zone, or Yet Another Voice, there's no reason to avoid Tortured for Christ. I believe everyone should have the freedom to believe what they believe and read what they want to read. Which is ultimately the premise of Tortured for Christ. If you are a believer or nonbeliever, it honestly doesn't matter. This is just a great book. 

The book is like an autobiography written in the third person by Richard Wurmbrand. As a fascinating history lesson, Wurmbrand chronicles his life growing up in Romania and the effects World War I and II had on his life and his country. The events of those wars are well documented in the book, but Wurmbrand goes behind the lines and really presents a human element to the madness of war and its effects on women, children, and families. 

Due to Wurmbrand being a Christian pastor, he immediately becomes a target of the Nazis. After World War II, his life and those of others in Romania seemed to have finally reached a bright spot. But, Stalin and communist forces took control of Romania and transformed it into a puppet government for Russia. Wurmbrand and his wife go on the run, working incognito and underground to avoid the brutal regime. Unfortunately, Wurmbrand is caught by the secret police and is shuffled through multiple prisons for 14 terrifying years.

I'm a veteran of the 70s, 80s, and 90s team-combat books, the military fictional men's action-adventure novels, the high-numbered installments of your favorite vigilante or supermerc, so I'm accustomed to heroes undergoing torture by evil governments, villains, drug dealers, etc. It isn't anything new. But, when it comes to real-life descriptions of torture, it's a different thing completely. 

The horrors that Wurmbrand endured, and his unbending faith in God, really had an impact on me. It made me question why I'm complaining about my coffee being served cold in the drive-thru lane when people like this suffered, and are still suffering, daily for various reasons. I'm not sure how Wurmbrand was able to do the things he did (which in itself might be hyperbole on his part), but the book's overall development from freedom to prison to liberation was simply mindblowing. 

If you do enjoy reading this sort of thing, I do recommend Yet Another Voice, which I reviewed, and also Faith of my Fathers, both of which depict real-life horrors of prison in North Vietnam. If you want to skip this book completely, the novel was adapted into a film this year by the same name. Buy a copy of the book HERE.


  1. Why was he being targeted by the Nazis? He was a Christian pastor not a Jewish rabbi.

  2. I am curious as to the book answer, but generally speaking they didn't limit their targeting to Jews (or even other groups they deemed "undesirable"). Academics, religious leaders, civic leaders... anyone influential that wasn't compliant could pose a threat to their authoritarian goals.