At the center of this heroic life was a passionate 20-year fight to abolish the British slave trade, a battle Wilberforce won in 1807, as well as efforts to abolish slavery itself in the British colonies, a victory achieved just three days before his death in 1833.
Metaxas discovers in this unsung hero a man of whom it can truly be said, "He changed the world." Before Wilberforce, few thought slavery was wrong. After Wilberforce, most societies in the world came to see it as a great moral wrong.
This account of Wilberforce's life will help many to become acquainted with an exceptional man who was a hero to Abraham Lincoln and an inspiration to the anti-slavery movement in America.
©2007 Eric Metaxas; (P)2007 Tantor Media Inc.
I loved listening to books during my commute to work. Maybe I shouldn't have retired!
This is a fascinating book about a man that is seldom mentioned in history texts but contributed a great deal to the world. The book gets off to a slow start, the first hour or so devoted to praising Wilberforce before getting on with the story of his life. Nonetheless, I highly recommend this book!
College English professor who loves classic literature, psychology, neurology and hates pop trash like Twilight and Fifty Shades of Grey.
The worst criticism one is likely to encounter in regard to this biography of William Wilberforce is the same as came later for Metaxas' biography of Bonhoeffer, namely, that he lapses into hero worship in the telling of the tale, but one might ask how the extraordinary stories of the lives of two such remarkable men could be told without it. In fact, we do not write biographies of ordinary men and women but extraordinary ones, and so accusing a biographer of writing with abundant admiration of William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer is like accusing a biographer of Adolph Hitler of not showed a "better side" of the most notorious dictator in history. In the end, we write our own biographies with our deeds--if, in the end, these inspire praise and adulation rather than scorn and censure, all the better.
I learned a lot from this book, both about the British history of slavery and abolition, but also many illuminating details of the era itself. Previous reviews commented on the author's obvious religious bias, but it didn't impact the historical value, and his writing style was delightful.
Narrative makes the world go round.
As others mention, the book seems far from objective and the reader is a bit too ...enthusiastic? and also too... modern? in tone (I can't quite put my finger on the words). But what a story! What a man! (even if the portrait is less than neutral). And what great details and anecdotes of the times. It's an all round 5 star listen to me, despite the flaws.
This book tells the story of William Wilberforce in detail from birth to death. Along the way you will read about his efforts to outlaw the slave trade and, ultimately, to emancipate the slaves throughout the British possessions. However the author seems to have taken delight in finding the biggest words (or should I say, the most 'erudite' ones) to express even simple ideas. Unless you have a large vocabulary, you will find it confusing and, even if you do, you may find it annoying as if he kept searching in a thesaurus for a less common word. I gave it five stars because it really IS well written despite what seems like an unnecessary display of verbal ability. On the positive side, I came away with a great appreciation for Wilberforce, himself and I hope you will too.
Professional librarian type, amateur historian.
In the beginning Johnny Heller seems to be rushing through the book and the hurried voice is a bit annoying. But you get interested in the story of Wilberforce and I found myself struggling to stop listening for things like sleep and work. After listening, I want to get a hard copy of the book to share aspects of the book with friends. Regarding the storytelling, it is very Christian and not a secular bio.
I'd like to meet Eric Metaxas some day. He is a great storyteller and the mini lessons he offers along the way are as enlightening as they are Germaine to the topic of abolition and the man who dedicated his life to bringing it to an end.
I would hate to think where we would be at today without William Wilberforce. Truly this was a man whose life changed history. This book is well written, interesting, and well read. I would recommend it highly.
We often forget what had to happen in the past to make our life what it is today. I have been interested in the life story of William Wilberforce because he was a man greatly admired by Charles Colson. In fact, Colson's organization, Prison Fellowship, gives an annual award to the person that most exemplifies William Wilberforce. I am a great admirer of Charles Colson.
William Wilberforce grew up in a family where religious practice was not a focal point. When he converted to Methodism, it was a great scandal and his family did all they could to wean him from this belief. Despite some ups and downs, William remained a Methodist all his life. In that day, to be a Methodist was to be outside the mainstream where religion was in words but not in deeds.
William was a key political player and was a life long friend of William Pitt who was a political leader of England for quite a long season. Despite their differences on slavery, they remained friends. This is to both of their credit. William's life mission was the ending of the slave trade and the horrors that this visited on Africans (and on all who were so engaged, such as John Newton of Amazing Grace fame who was a mentor of Wilberforce). Despite several near misses on passing legislation to end the slave trade, it took over thirty years to finally make it happen.
I found the book to be full of information that I didn't know and plan to listen again after a season to pick up additional insights. My compliments on a great listen.
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