William Wilberforce has been a hero and role model for me for years; I am not sure when we first learned of his historic influence in stopping the slave trade in England. I know he was friends with everybody in those years—from Edmund Burke to Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from Ben Franklin to William Lloyd Garrison. He was roundly hated, stalked, beat and opposed, but seemed to carry on with joy amidst persecution, and saw victory just days before he died. Os Guinness wasn’t the first to tell us about him, but those who admire Os, know that he often cites the British parlimentarian and social reformer and has shared his passion for Wilberforce’s multi-faceted vision to bring about “a reformation of manners (morals)” driven on by his solid theology.
I wrote about Wilberforce briefly a few postings ago, and commended the new, very brief book by John Piper, Amazing Grace in the Life of William Wilberforce. The movie will be out soon, and I trust you know all about Amazing Grace film which tells of Wilberforce’s call to stay in politics (discerned during a particularly important conversation with former slave ship captain and hymnwriter, John Newton, who advised him to fight for the abolition of slavery by staying in politics.)
Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas (Harper SanFransico; $21.95) is now out, and we are thrilled. It is surely the biography of Wilberforce to first read. (We have been proud to promote Kevin Belmont’s sturdy Hero for Humanity for several years, which is the most thorough and well-documented one yet done. Thank goodness it has just been re-issued in paperback by Zondervan for just $12.99!)
Metaxas is a hoot of a guy–he’s been in our shop—and is one of those rare indivuals who is charming and smart, funny and serious, thoughtful and yet not overly academic. The guy has set up “Socrates in the City” in Manhattan, and has been a writer for VeggieTales. He has written children’s books (and has been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Children’s Recording.) And his last book of apologetics is written with winsome vigor and an honest defense of classic Christianity. If you get my drift, I hope you realize that this book is interesting, well-written, classy, serious-minded yet deeply inspirational in the best sense of the word. It is not simplistic nor overly scholastic. It is just right. I think Dick Staub is correct when he notes that this is “an exquisite pairing of biographer and subject.” And Dr. Guinness (who loaned Eric some very rare and antique books on Wilberforce for his research, which word has it he needs to return!) is perceptive when he says, “Writing with a spirited and sparkling style, Metaxas brings William Wilberforce alive. Here is a superb introduction to history’s greatest and most surprising social reformer. It will jolt the cynical and inspire the visionary.”
Jolt the cynical and inspire the visionary. This book can do that not just because it is nicely written and well-done, which it is, but because that is the sort of impact the mighty W had. A good family man, an elquant and compelling orator, a deep thinker, a man of deep compassion, sure piety and good humor, he is, indeed, a man for our times. Thank God for the movie coming out, for the various campaigns and efforts being mobilized around the film, and for the new batch of books. Metaxas’s will be considered by many to be the best.
I will review a number of Wilberforce and Amazing Grace related titles over at the website for the February column, later this month. For now, we are pleased—we are joyously compelled—to annouce the arrive of this landmark, new work. We couldn’t recommend it more surely.
And, to happily complicate matters, Harper has also released a companion book on contemporary slavery, a companion to the parallel Amazing Change campaign, called
Not For Sale by David Batstone ($14.95.) David has travelled the globe in recent years researching this horrific matter, much, much worse than in any time in history! Here is another link for those interested in working on the Not For Sale campaign. It, and the Amazing Change movement, are good introductions to the activism that will emerge around David’s new book. As I noted, I will write more about this soon. For now, see our special Amazing Grace/Not for Sale package deal. This Blog Special will get you both of these for a great price.
Eric Metaxas (Harper SanFransico) $21.95
Not for Sale: The Return of the Global Slave Trade—and How We Can Fight It
David Batstone (Harper SanFranciso) $ 14.95
save almost $12
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