Thursday, October 3, 2013

Book Review: Amazing Grace

Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery. Eric Metaxas. 2007. HarperCollins. 304 pages. [Source: Bought]

I have been wanting to read this one for years; I've even owned it for years. It is so satisfying to finally get to a book one has been wanting to read for so long.
We often hear about people who "need no introduction," but if ever someone did need one, at least in our day and age, it's William Wilberforce. The strange irony is that we are talking about a man who changed the world, so if ever someone should not need an introduction--whose name and accomplishments should be on the lips of all humanity--it's Wilberforce. What happened is surprisingly simple: William Wilberforce was the happy victim of his own success. He was like someone who against all odds finds the cure for a horrible disease that's ravaging the world, and the cure is so overwhelmingly successful that it vanquishes the disease completely. No one suffers from it again--and within a generation or two no one remembers it ever existed. 
What Wilberforce vanquished was something even worse than slavery, something that was much more fundamental and can hardly be seen from where we stand today: he vanquished the very mindset that made slavery acceptable and allowed it to survive and thrive for a millennia. He destroyed an entire way of seeing the world, one that had held sway from the beginning of history, and he replaced it with another way of seeing the world. Included in the old way of seeing things was the idea that the evil of slavery was good. 
Amazing Grace is a great biography of William Wilberforce. It is "Christian" to the extent that Wilberforce was a man of faith, and his faith informs or even transforms his life. But at the same time, it would be horrible if only Christians were to read this biography. This isn't a preachy book. It is a biography. It is just as much about politics and history as it is "the faith." What readers get is a glimpse into life in Britain in the late 1700s to mid-1800s (1780s - 1820s). Readers get a glimpse into the monarchy (George III and George IV) and into parliament. Any reader who loves history or biography could find something to appreciate in this one.

© Becky Laney of Operation Actually Read Bible

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