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Hero for Humanity: A Biography of William Wilberforce Hardcover – October, 2002

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Editorial Reviews

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By Belmonte's lights, Wilberforce (1759-1833) is unjustly little known; hence, his yeomanly attempt to make the great English politician more familiar to a broad, popular readership. He treats Wilberforce's career topically rather than in strict chronology, devoting separate chapters to activities that Wilberforce performed simultaneously. Chief among those activities were Wilberforce's 20-year campaign to abolish the slave trade throughout the British empire and his lifelong project to reform his nation's morals by organizing a broad range of private philanthropies to better the conditions of Britain's poor. Throughout, Belmonte stresses Wilberforce's motivation: the "great change," as Wilberforce called his conversion to evangelical Christianity when he was in his midtwenties, after which he felt obliged to ease suffering and need however he could and to approach all challenges with equanimity, including the challenges of disparaging critics and political foes, whom he strove to regard positively, with the consequence that many later supported his policies. A good introduction to an example of that now rare species, the genuinely Christian statesman. Ray Olson
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

From the Publisher

Winner of the 2003 John Pollock Award for Christian Biography.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Navpress Publishing Group; 1st ed edition (October 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1576833542
  • ISBN-13: 978-1576833544
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,329,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Kevin Belmonte holds a B.A. in English Literature from Gordon College, an M.A. in Church History from Gordon-Conwell Seminary, and a second master's degree in American and New England Studies from the University of Southern Maine (Portland). His first biography, William Wilberforce: A Hero for Humanity, received the prestigious John Pollock Award for Christian Biography and has been taught as part of a course on leadership and character formation at The Kennedy School of Government at Harvard. For six years, Belmonte served as the lead historical consultant for the motion picture Amazing Grace.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful By David A. Vosseller on April 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In an age when celebrities are made through self-promotion, selfish excess and even 'reality' television centering on the lowest forms of human behavior, Hero for Humanity is a refreshing look at a man who by his faith, life and commitments, made his country, and indeed his time, better for him having lived.
Kevin Belmonte has been fascinated by William Wilberforce for years, and is determined to have the world rediscover this man, and hopefully follow his example to change their world. Wilberforce was an Englishman of noble birth who was born into a nominal Christian home in 1795. A few years after being elected to Parliament, and with a bright political future ahead of him, the Lord worked in his life to bring him to faith. Counseled by John Newton to continue in Parliament, Wilberforce set his sights on bettering English society. His aim was to abolish the African slave trade (and later slavery itself in England)and to have a 'reformation of manners', meaning moral change in society.
Unlike many modern "Christian" statesmen and politicans, Wilberforce did not need to couch all his ideas in Christian language, nor did he feel that he had to quote Scripture on the floor of Parliament to make his case, but he was clearly and consciously informed by Scriptural principles in all that he did. He had many opponents who ridiculed his faith and attacked his reforms because of it, but he resisted the temptation to 'demonize' his opponents (again, unlike many today) and instead sought to win them over by integrity, honesty, care, and by using his incredible gifts of oration and persuasion. His struggle to eliminate the slave trade and slavery took many years and had many setbacks and defeats. But in the end, he and his group of co-workers achieved their goals.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By David C. Hoffner on February 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I found this book inspirational in many ways. Belmonte is clearly deeply immersed in the material and knows his subject well. In fact the book is so packed with direct quotes that even Belmonte's own prose seems at times influenced by Victorian style and cadence. Belmonte's stated purpose was not to write the complete Wilberforce story, but rather a `re-introductory' biography (p.16). This may explain the absence of any criticism of his subject.
One aspect of Wilberforce's life that I had read about before and was gratified to learn more about here was how he came to recognize his calling. After his conversion to evangelical Christianity, he had begun to think of leaving politics and pursuing Christian work of some kind. But fortunately for the welfare of thousands, he received some timely advice to remain in politics and to serve Christ there. Who knows how much longer the slave trade would have persisted if Wilberforce had left politics to become a minister. To my mind this has tremendous relevance today as far too many young Christians seek work in the Christian sphere instead of pursuing a calling to serve Christ in the marketplace at large.
Another aspect of Wilberforce that I already had some familiarity with was that he saw his life's work as "two great objects: the suppression of the slave trade, and the reformation of manners [morals]." I knew that he saw success in the first, but what about the second? Belmonte naturally details how Wilberforce led the accomplishment of the first object. But of fresh interest to me was to learn to what degree he saw success in the second object of reforming the morals of his entire nation/society. How he did it and the perseverance with which he pursued both objects is truly an inspirational story.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By "asdfasdfsadf" on January 17, 2003
Format: Hardcover
William Wilberforce may be the most famous person in the world that no one knows. Author Kevin Belmonte has written a wonderfully engaging work that will keep you reading. If you ever wonder if one person can make a difference in the world this book will offer great encouragement. If not for the work of Mr. Wilberforce, slavery would not have been abolished in England so peacefully. If only America could have learned the lesson from the Mother Country. In fact, Wilberforce contributed so much to humanity that it is hard to measure his impact. His life was lived by conviction, even until the day he died. What a clear challenge for us all in our own lives. If you love history, like reading biographies and want to see a man who changed the world almost anonymously, this is your book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Lyons on July 14, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Belmonte's work, Hero for Humanity, is one of the best works I've picked up in a few years. He traces the life of English statesman William Wilberforce from his boyhood through his career in public life. Along the way, Wilberforce struggles with the subject of faith, finally becoming an evangelical Christian. It is at this point that his worldview changes, and his legislative career in Parliment takes a new turn, as he begins on the long journey of the abolition of the slave trade in the British Empire. Wilberforce becomes a man whose "conscience is held captive by the word of God", and he wrestles with being a Christian in the rough and tumble world of politics. This book is a must read for history buffs, Christians, skeptics, and lovers of a life well lived.
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