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Amazing Grace: William Wilberforce and the Heroic Campaign to End Slavery Hardcover – February 6, 2007

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Editorial Reviews


“A fine and important book.” (Chicago Sun-Times)

“The little-known story of the lifelong struggle of a member of Parliament to abolish slavery in the British Empire.” (USA Today)

From the Back Cover

Amazing Grace is based on the true story of William Wilberforce, a British statesman and reformer from the early part of the 19th century. It chronicles his extraordinary contributions to the world, primarily his 20-year fight to abolish the British slave trade, which he won in 1807. He was also instrumental in passing legislation to abolish slavery in the British colonies, a victory he won just three days before his death in 1833. He was a hero to Abraham Lincoln and an inspiration to the anti-slavery movement in America. America needs to become reacquainted with this moral hero.

In 1784 Wilberforce had a conversion experience. He joined the Clapham Set, a group of pious and activist members of the Anglican Church, centered around John Venn, rector of Clapham Church in London. As a result of this conversion, Wilberforce became interested in social reform and was eventually approached by Lady Middleton to use his power as an MP to bring an end to the slave trade.

Wilberforce became one of the leader of the anti-slave trade movement. Most of Wilberforce’s Tory colleagues in the House of Commons were opposed to any restrictions on the slave trade and at first he had to rely on the support of Whigs. When William Wilberforce presented his first bill to abolish the slave trade in 1791 it was easily defeated by 163 votes to 88. Wilberforce refused to be beaten and in 1805 the House of Commons passed a bill that made it unlawful for any British subject to transport slaves, but the measure was blocked by the House of Lords. In February 1806, Lord Grenville formed a Whig administration. Grenville and his Foreign Secretary, Charles Fox, were strong opponents of the slave trade. Fox and Wilberforce led the campaign in the House of Commons, whereas Grenville had the task of persuading the House of Lords to accept the measure. When the vote was taken the Abolition of the Slave Trade bill was passed in the House of Lords by 41 votes to 20. In the House of Commons it was carried by 114 to 15 and it became law on 25th March, 1807.

Unfortunately, the passing of this legislation did not put an end to the practice of slave trading. Even though British captains who were caught continuing the trade were fined L100 for every slave found on board, captains often reduced the fines they had to pay by ordering the slaves to be thrown into the sea. William Wilberforce died on 29th July, 1833 and is buried in Westminster Abbey. One month later, Parliament passed what Wilberforce had dedicated his life toward; they passed the Slavery Abolition Act that gave all slaves in the British Empire their freedom.

This biography of one of the foremost abolitionists of Britain’s anti-slavery movement will be the official tie-in book to the film Amazing Grace by Walden Media.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: HarperCollins; 1 edition (February 6, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061173002
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061173004
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (386 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #56,409 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ERIC METAXAS is the author of four New York Times Bestsellers, including the #1 Bestseller, BONHOEFFER: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, which was named "Book of the Year" by the ECPA and sold over one million copies in 19 languages. Called a "biography of uncommon power," it appeared on numerous 2010 "Best of the Year" lists and was ranked #21 on the listing of Most Highlighted Books of all time.

He is host of the Eric Metaxas Show, a nationally-syndicated daily radio program in 120 cities. ( ABC News has called Metaxas a "photogenic, witty ambassador for faith in public life," and The Indianapolis Star described him as "a Protestant version of William F. Buckley." Metaxas is also the host of Socrates in the City: Conversations on the Examined Life, broadcast on the NRB network and

Metaxas was the keynote speaker at the 2012 National Prayer Breakfast in Washington DC, an event attended by the President and First Lady, the Vice President, members of Congress, and other U.S. and world leaders. Previous keynote speakers have included Mother Theresa, Bono, and Tony Blair. That speech and Eric's essay on the experience, were put into a book, No Pressure, Mr. President: The Power of True Belief in a Time of Crisis.

Along with his colleague John Stonestreet, Metaxas is the voice of BreakPoint, a radio commentary that is broadcast on 1,400 radio outlets with an audience of eight million.

In 2011, Metaxas was the 17th recipient of the Canterbury Medal awarded by the Becket Fund for Religious Freedom. He has testified before Congress about the rise of anti-Semitism in the U.S. and abroad, and spoke at CPAC2013 on the issue of Religious Freedom. In September 2013, Eric and his wife Susanne were jointly awarded the Human Life Review's "Great Defender of Life Award." Metaxas has honorary Doctorates from Sewanee College, Hillsdale College, and Liberty University.

Eric's book (November 2014) MIRACLES: What They Are, Why They Happen, and How They Can Change Your Life hit #12 on the New York Times Best Seller list and is being translated into German, Polish, Greek, Portuguese, Hungarian, Romanian, Russian, Estonian, Slovak, Korean, Swedish, Finnish, and Croatian.

His Dec. 25th, 2014 op-ed for the Wall Street Journal, titled "Science Increasingly Makes the Case for God," is unofficially the most popular and shared piece in the history of the Journal, garnering over 450,000 Facebook Likes and 8,000 comments.

Metaxas is a Senior Fellow and Lecturer at Large for the King's College in New York City.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

188 of 197 people found the following review helpful By B. D. Weimer on February 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I purchased this book with low expectations, assuming it was a hastily-written biography produced to promote the upcoming Wilberforce film. I was very pleasantly surprised.

The author, Eric Metaxas, has produced a masterpiece worthy of its subject. Metaxas is an eloquent and fluid writer, and he brings to life one of Britain's most gifted and eloquent politicians.

William Wilberforce electrified Parliament in his early years, before he yet had a cause. His silver tongue and quit wit won him many friends, including Prime Minister William Pitt the Younger. Had Wilberforce continued along this path, he might well have succeeded Pitt.

With respect and sensitivity, Metaxas documents a powerful change to Wilberforce. Through a serious and intelligent conversion to Evangelical (Methodist) Christianity, Wilberforce's life was forever altered. His heart was changed ... to God and humanity. He could no longer ignore the sufferings of African slaves, kidnapped and shipped under horrible conditions to a living death in Britain's Caribbean colonies. He brought his faith to bear on politics ... as controversial in his day as in ours.

Metaxas dramatically shows how much Wilberforce suffered for the sake of abolition. He faced powerful and dangerous foes without fear or malice. By the force of his stubborn will, Wilberforce awakened the British conscience. He refused to turn back, despite many bitter setbacks. Returning to Parliament year after year, Wilberforce finally saw the abolition of the slave trade in 1807. Then, mere days before his death, he witnessed Parliament's history-changing vote to outlaw slavery throughout the British colonies.
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74 of 76 people found the following review helpful By Peter G. Hawkins on February 6, 2007
Format: Hardcover
In this biography Eric Metaxas traces William Wilberforce's roots, schooling, friends and faith to gain an understanding of what propelled the man to take on and defeat the powerful and politically connected slave traders/merchants of the late 18th century. It is a wonderful look into a period of time where one man leads a groundswell movement that results in an about face in Great Britain's perception of the slave trade, and ultimately slavery itself - a tidal wave that crossed the Atlantic to the U.S.
I would highly recommend "Amazing Grace" to anyone, not just for it's historical significance, but for those with a mind to effect change in their own community.
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82 of 89 people found the following review helpful By Robert W. Kellemen on February 25, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Eric Metaxas provides the story behind the movie "Amazing Grace." Whereas the movie somewhat down-plays Wilberforce's Christianity, Metaxes' book clearly hightlights Wilberforce's faith in Christ as the primary motivator for his campaign for the end of slavery.

Metaxas vividly portrays the real and raw experiences that Wilberforce endured including intense opposition. Readers see in Wilberforce, as the subtitle suggests, a heroic and resilient Christian whose faith impacted not only his life, but the lives of millions.

It was Wilberforce's freedom from the slavery of sin that led him to fight for freedom from the sin of slavery. Read "Amazing Grace" and learn the rest of the story.

Rewiever: Bob Kellemen is the author of Beyond the Suffering: Embracing the Legacy of African American Soul Care and Spiritual Direction , Spiritual Friends, and Soul Physicians.
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By MommyHuggin on December 27, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
After seeing the movie, Amazing Grace, our 12 year old daughter chose William Wilberforce as a school Language Arts project. When she submitted her "topic" to her teacher, the teacher said, "I have no idea who he is." Admittedly, before the movie, we, too, had never heard of him. Whereas the movie skims over this man's life, this book allows you to get to know him, as a man and as a public figure. You will know his weaknesses and his strengths. You will learn that he championed many other causes which helped usher in the Victorian Age in England. He was at the center of the campaign to abolish slavery in the British Kingdom. His abilities as an orator kept the abolisment of slavery at the forefront of Parliament for decades. He did not do it alone and this book does not insinuate that he did. This book, "Amazing Grace", is about William Wilberforce and it is well done.

I would not recommend it for 6th, 7th, or 8th graders. Some of the material on slavery was very rough, but necessary. We had to edit the book and cross out sections which she shouldn't read.

I think all adults should read this book. William Wilberforce's life is inspiring, to say the least.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael A. Heald on February 3, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Amazing Grace by Eric Metaxas is the New York Times bestseller about the life of William Wilberforce. The subtitle describes the theme: The heroic campaign to end slavery.

I thoroughly enjoyed Mr. Metaxas's book because he so obviously liked and admired his subject. In the epilogue he writes, "I confess that while writing this book I sometimes had the happy sense that Wilberforce was present, or on the verge of it, twinkling with delight at my elbow, wearing that rosebud smile of his, head quizzically cocked."

However, it is Mr. Metaxas's sharp wit and skill with words - not his admiration - that brings Mr. Wilberforce to life and illuminates the dark underbelly of the Georgian era that arose from the unfeeling and unquestioning pursuit of the enlightenment. I sputtered in startled amusement when Mr. Metaxas described the public ox roast that William Wilberforce hosted when he stood for Parliament the first time, an event that had occurred in

"1809 to celebrate to Golden Jubilee of King George III, and another was held in 1887 to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of Victoria. And here now, in Hull in 1780, an ox roast was held to celebrate the twenty-first birthday of the grandson of the late Alderman, the scion of the great Wilberforce family, a tiny, brilliant, and exceedingly ambitious young man who happened to be standing for Parliament in the general election just two weeks away . . . .
It was duly noted that the newly minted twenty-one-year-old had won exactly as many votes as his two opponents combined, which gave him a nice little push as he entered parliament--the ox had not twirled in vain."

Mr. Metaxas writes with empathy as well as with a sharp wit.
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