In 2007 the world celebrated the 200th anniversary of Britain’s historic decision to abolish the slave trade. While many people toiled for decades to make this happen, the individual perhaps most responsible was William Wilberforce, the British MP who tirelessly brought the bill before the House of Commons over the course of 18 years. Amazing Grace is the story of Wilberforce’s campaign, written by Eric Metaxas (2007- yes, I like to review books a few years after they come out, not when everyone else is reviewing them.). The film Amazing Grace (which opened in the US in 2007) tells the same story. (Slavery as an institution was not abolished in the British colonies until 1833; over 30 years before it was abolished in the US).
Wilberforce went to Cambridge (I don’t hold it against him) shortly after turning 17, became a Member of Parliament at age 21, and at 24 was best friend to the youngest British Prime Minister in history, William Pitt (the younger), also 24. What were they thinking to allow a 24 year-old run the country? Good point, but people didn’t live as long back then, so 24, was like 28 in our years. So, I guess 28 was old enough to run a country nation like the UK.
Wilberforce’s story is an amazing one of persistence, he had health problems, received death threats, major disappointments (one year the abolition bill didn’t pass because potential votes were absent at the opera).
At risk of sounding like Goldilocks, of the three Metaxas’s books that I’ve read, I enjoyed Bonhoeffer but at over 600 pages at times I found it a bit long (too hot?), Seven Men, also engaging, but with only 20 or so pages on each guy, not in-depth enough (too cold?), but since in Amazing Grace he’s able to tell Wilberforce’s story in less than 300 pages, I found it just right. Metaxas does a great job of telling the story, giving historical insights and entertaining along the way (I now believe that he wrote for Veggie Tales). I highly recommend it.
Read it before you watch it. If you haven’t already.
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