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Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery by Eric Metaxas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Excellent book. Things slowed up a bit toward the end, as life usually does, but I mostly did not want to put it down. Aside from being a well-written, well-researched book, this is an important book. Wilberforce’s life deserves to be more widely known. I came into the book knowing that he was key in the fight for the abolition of the slave trade in England in the early nineteenth century, but that was about all. I am thankful to know better now.
His life has many lessons for us–faith, perseverance, service, charity, etc. Wilberforce had begun a promising political career when he was converted to Christianity. He then faced a crossroads crisis. He did finally decide to remain in politics, but to do so with a Christian worldview, not divorcing his faith from the public square. His faith informed and drove his public service. He was resolved to pursue two great objects with his life–abolition of the slave trade and the reformation of manners (by which he meant the morality of the nation). His was a life lived to a great purpose.
Wilberforce was pre-Victorian, and you might also say he helped make Victorian England possible. We tend to romanticize these periods of British history. Metaxas gives us a good look at the reality that was not so idyllic. The time was full of excesses, cruelties, injustices, and wickedness. Wilberforce engaged his generation and challenged them. We have many parallels today. Human trafficking is by no means gone, but we presuppose it wrong. Cruelties and injustice still abound. How shall we then live?
Metaxas has quite a bit of personality, but he mostly stayed out of the way that we might see Wilberforce the more clearly. I appreciated that effort. I highly recommend this book.