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John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace Hardcover – June 7, 2007


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Crossway; 1St Edition edition (June 7, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1581348487
  • ISBN-13: 978-1581348484
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #759,651 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Using diaries and correspondence, this biography crosses the boundaries of history and religion."
(The Bookseller)

"This fascinating and gripping book makes the life of John Newton come alive for the contemporary reader. There's no hedging on Newton's depravity, nor his utterly passionate devotion to his precious Savior. I highly recommend this excellent work it's one that will transform not only minds but hearts!"
(Joni Eareckson Tada)

"Skilled and colorful biographer that he is, my friend Jonathan Aitken has brought to life one of eighteeneth-century England's most influential Christians.
(Chuck Colson)

"Master biographer Jonathan Aitken is in fine form, sympathetic, insightful, scholarly and vivid, and his book, like its subject, must be rated unobtrusively spectacular"
(J.I. Packer)

"A rip-roaring adventure, a passionate romance, and astonishing journey of faith all in one"
(Os Guiness)

"A fresh, insightful, and inspiring account of this great yet neglected figure. With that rare skill of a superb biographer, Aitken brings Newton to life for a new generation of admirers"
(Alister McGrath)

"The book captures superbly how one life can be transformed by God for the benefit of others"
(Tricia Neill, President Alpha International)

"Jonathan Aitken has written a book that, enriched by fresh research into unpublished papers, will enhance his reputation as one of today's foremost biographers.Secular and religious readers will alike profit enormously from this book"
(Rev.Dr. Michael Green)

"Jonathan Aitken as always writes with elegance, clarity, and sympathy in describing an extraordinary eighteeneth-century life"
(Graham Tomlin, Principal,St Paul's Theological Centre, Holy Trinity Brompton, London)

"Jonathan Aitken brings to life one of the unsung heroes of the Evangelical Revival"
(Richard Turnbull., Principal, Wycliffe Hall, Oxford)

"Aitken is well-qualified to serve an account of Newton for the modern reader. He is a renowned writer and biographer, a former businessman and politician, and, like Newton, a man whose heart has been changed through amazing grace."
(Ken Costa, Chairman of Alpha International, Vice-Chairman of USB Investment Bank)

Mentioned in The Plain Truth (after an interview with J Aitken)


"a thorough study, superbly written, and an excellent read"
(Keswick Convention Handbook)

Reviewed by Alec Ryrie, Church Times, July, 2007
(Alec Ryrie Church Times)

'This is an 'amazing' book which tells the story of an 'amazing' Christian life...This is a book to inspire and challenge us as to the true nature of Amazing Grace'
Christianity, October 2007
(Wendy Bray)

Reviewed in Catholic Herald, 2007
(The Catholic Herald)

"A brilliantly written biography ... Like all good biographers, Jonathan Aitken leaves us with the imprint of the subject firmly in our minds rather than the image of the author, but the engaging style of his narrative displays a personal commitment not only to the subject but also to his reason for living."
Paul Woolley, The Difference
(Paul Woolley, The Difference)

"Mr Aitken's biography... provides a rare spiritual treat and leads us to praise God for His mercy in the reality and wonder of salvation"
Gordon Murray, Protestant Truth, September - October 2007
(Gordan Murray - Protestant Truth)

"meticulously researched...[Aiken] writes beautifully and accessibly."
Reviewed in Christianity, 2008


"Here is a useful account of a great figure of the Evangelical Revival" - Times Literary Supplement


"Well before the end, I was conscious that I was reading another classic ... Aitken writes with real passion for his subject ... This is a book to inform your mind, warm your heart and inspire your Christian walk. I cannot recommend it more highly." - Evangelical Times


"Using diaries and correspondence, this biography crosses the boundaries of history and religion."
(Sanford Lakoff)

"This fascinating and gripping book makes the life of John Newton come alive for the contemporary reader. There's no hedging on Newton's depravity, nor his utterly passionate devotion to his precious Savior. I highly recommend this excellent work it's one that will transform not only minds but hearts!"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Skilled and colorful biographer that he is, my friend Jonathan Aitken has brought to life one of eighteeneth-century England's most influential Christians.
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Master biographer Jonathan Aitken is in fine form, sympathetic, insightful, scholarly and vivid, and his book, like its subject, must be rated unobtrusively spectacular"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"A rip-roaring adventure, a passionate romance, and astonishing journey of faith all in one"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"A fresh, insightful, and inspiring account of this great yet neglected figure. With that rare skill of a superb biographer, Aitken brings Newton to life for a new generation of admirers"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"The book captures superbly how one life can be transformed by God for the benefit of others"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Jonathan Aitken has written a book that, enriched by fresh research into unpublished papers, will enhance his reputation as one of today's foremost biographers.Secular and religious readers will alike profit enormously from this book"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Jonathan Aitken as always writes with elegance, clarity, and sympathy in describing an extraordinary eighteeneth-century life"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Jonathan Aitken brings to life one of the unsung heroes of the Evangelical Revival"
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Aitken is well-qualified to serve an account of Newton for the modern reader. He is a renowned writer and biographer, a former businessman and politician, and, like Newton, a man whose heart has been changed through amazing grace."
(Sanford Lakoff)

"a thorough study, superbly written, and an excellent read"
(Sanford Lakoff)

Reviewed by Alec Ryrie, Church Times, July, 2007
(Sanford Lakoff Church Times)

'This is an 'amazing' book which tells the story of an 'amazing' Christian life...This is a book to inspire and challenge us as to the true nature of Amazing Grace'
Christianity, October 2007
(Sanford Lakoff)

"A brilliantly written biography ... Like all good biographers, Jonathan Aitken leaves us with the imprint of the subject firmly in our minds rather than the image of the author, but the engaging style of his narrative displays a personal commitment not only to the subject but also to his reason for living."
Paul Woolley, The Difference
(Sanford Lakoff)

"Mr Aitken's biography... provides a rare spiritual treat and leads us to praise God for His mercy in the reality and wonder of salvation"
Gordon Murray, Protestant Truth, September - October 2007
(Sanford Lakoff) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"A new life of John Newton is a fitting celebration of the bicentennial both of Newton's death and of the abolition of the slave trade, Wilberforce's triumph in which Newton played a key role. Master biographer Jonathan Aitken is in fine form, sympathetic, insightful, scholarly, and vivid, and his book, like its subject, must be rated spectacular."
J. I. Packer, Board of Governors' Professor of Theology, Regent College

"A riveting historical account of the life of this notorious eighteenth-century sinner who was dramatically saved by God's grace. This book should be required reading for any person who loves history, loves the song, and is serious about following Christ."
Jack Kemp, former Secretary of Housing and Urban Development; former U.S. Congressman

"A rip-roaring adventure, a passionate romance, and an astonishing journey of faith all in one. I knew the story well, but this telling made a deep impression on me."
Os Guinness, cofounder, The Trinity Forum; author, The Dust of Death and The Last Christian on Earth

"Jonathan Aitken has written such an intimate account of one of the great saints of God that I can now say I have been mentored by John Newton!"
Joel Hunter, Senior Pastor, Northland, A Church Distributed, Longwood, Florida

"Jonathan Aitken's fast-paced, well-researched, and detailed book shows why Newton was such an important figure. This is a book to read, ponder, and read again."
Mark A. Noll, Francis A. McAnaney Professor of History, University of Notre Dame

"A fresh, insightful, and inspiring account of this great figure. With that rare skill of a superb biographer, Aitken brings Newton to life for a new generation of admirers."
Alister McGrath, Professor of Theology, Ministry and Education, King's College, London

"In careful and colorful detail, Aitken resurrects this nearly forgotten giant of the faith and establishes Newton in his rightful place as one who has altered the course of western history."
Robert Lupton, President, FCS Urban Ministries, Atlanta

"Skilled biographer that he is, my friend Jonathan Aitken has brought to life one of eighteenth-century England's most influential Christians. The story of amazing grace both in the life of Newton and in the song that has become the Christian national anthem."
Charles Colson, founder, Prison Fellowship and the Colson Center for Christian Worldview

"Only God could take a vile slave trader and turn him into a useful instrument in abolishing the slave trade and igniting a gospel revival, the flames of which are burning still. The story of Newton's life inspires all who seek to follow the path of Jesus today."
Timothy George, Founding Dean, Beeson Divinity School; General Editor, Reformation Commentary on Scripture

"John Newton not only wrote one of the greatest hymns of all time-he lived one of the greatest stories of salvation."
Rodney Stark, Author of The Rise of Christianity

"Even more amazing than Newton's life with all its drama and color is the reminder of how completely revolutionary is God's agenda to change the world his own way and through imperfect, broken people. Newton is just another entry to God's long resumé of his amazing grace in changed lives."
James MacDonald, Pastor, Harvest Bible Chapel, Rolling Meadows, Illinois; author, Vertical Church

"An informed, authoritative biography of the man who played a critical role in helping William Wilberforce abolish the slave trade. His life story is absolutely spell-binding. I could not put the book down."
Armand M. Nicholi Jr., M.D., Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Author of The Question of God

"Jonathan Aitken has written a book that, enriched by fresh research into unpublished papers, will enhance his reputation as one of today's foremost biographers."
Michael Green, Author, Theologian, Former Canon Missioner of Holy Trinity Church, Raleigh, North Carolina


More About the Author

Jonathan Aitken is a well-known British author and former politician. He was a Member of Parliament for twenty-three years, serving in the Cabinet as Chief Secretary to the Treasury and also as Minister of State for Defense. His political career ended when he pleaded guilty to charges of perjury as a result of having told a lie on oath in a civil libel lawsuit. During an eighteen-month prison stay, he converted to Christ. He is president of Christian Solidarity Worldwide, a director of Prison Fellowship International, and executive director of The Trinity Forum in Europe. He is the author of twelve books, including the award-winning Nixon: A Life and Charles W. Colson: A Life Redeemed.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 54 customer reviews
I have found it to be very informative and very well written.
grace2u
Jonathan Aitken has researched and documeted a comprehensive biography of John Newton the lyricist of the famous hymn "Amazing Grace."
John J. Hadley
Take the time with this book and return to the times in history we all need to know more about.
W. Williams

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

70 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Tim Challies TOP 500 REVIEWER on June 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
While not everyone knows the name of John Newton, everyone knows his song and at least a bit of his story. Immortalized in the words of "Amazing Grace," the most-recorded song in history, everyone knows that John Newton was wretched and miserable until saved by a grace that forever transformed his life. Two centuries ago, fewer people knew his song, but far more knew his story. That story is told again and told afresh in Jonathan Aitken's new biography John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace.

John Newton lived a life that could only have been more dramatic if it were the product of fiction. Forced into naval service when he was young, Newton endeared himself to no one, living a life of utter disregard for authority. While attempting to desert he was captured and dropped to the lowest ranks of seamen. He eventually found a way to be released from the military and wormed his way onto a slave shape with which he sailed down the long coast of Africa. Being deserted for a time on that dark continent, he was made the slave of a slave-trader and suffered terrible abuse at the hands of his captor. After a time he was rescued and became the captain of his own slave ship. But then, during a long passage across the Atlantic Ocean, he began to read a Bible and underwent the remarkable transformation chronicled in the song he wrote years later.

Newton worked in secular employment for a time but soon felt the call to ministry and was ordained an Anglican priest, a position he retained until his death in 1807. In the intervening years he became widely-known through his biography and through his efforts to abolish the slave trade. He served as mentor to William Wilberforce who fought a long but ultimately successful campaign to ban the British slave trade.
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28 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Brian on June 21, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I have been involved with church music ministries for the last 15 years, and I don't think that six weeks have past without either performing, or being asked to perform the most popular hymn ever written: Amazing Grace. This song has been featured in almost every hymn collection published since its inception, and as of today, itunes has 150 different versions available for download. With such popularity you would think the hymn's enigmatic writer, John Newton, would be more celebrated today.

I hope that will change with a new biography written by Jonathan Aitken entitled, "John Newton: From Disgrace to Amazing Grace." Like most people, I knew Newton was a seafaring slave trader in his younger years and that he had a remarkable conversion experience at sea during a terrible storm, but I didn't realize that his life was the kind of epic adventure you would normally associate with a Cecil B. Demille movie.

Aitken's biography is one of the most compelling historical books I've had the pleasure to read. It is thorough, well researched without being dry, and written by a man who knows something about "being lost but found," since Jonathan Aitken became a believer while serving time in prison for perjury in an infamous London trial. Throughout the pages of Newton's life you are confronted with a man that knew the depth of his sin, but by God's grace, lived to preach, write and sing about God's forgiving grace found in Jesus Christ.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By G. J. Weeks on October 20, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Jonathan Aitken has written an excellent biography, one of the best Christian biographies I have read. Newton is a great subject for a biography for he had a long and amazing life. Aitken is well qualified to write about "From Disgrace to Amazing Grace". He writes with style. His chapters are refeshingly short and to the point. The story is thrilling with "many dangers, toils and snare". One looses counts of the dangers from which the young Newton escapes. It is the story of a great sinner who was found by a great Saviour. Aitken tells the tale with real spiritual as well as historical undrstanding of his subject so that in concluion he can point the reader to spiritual lessons to be learned from Newton's life. For example. God's timing is not ours. Newton had to wait six years from applying, to be finally ordained as an Anglican minister. His marriage is an exemplary and touching story. Newtons spitiuality and prayer life are a real challenge. Aitken shows how faithful and inovatory Newton was as a pastor and how he helped many, especially his best friend William Cowper. Without Newton there would have neem no great poet only a forgotten suicide. Similarly, without Newton we would probably not have has Wilberforce, politician and reformer. Aitken also tells the story of Newton's famous hymn, its composition and rise to fame. Aitken faithfully relates Newton's faults too. His support of the American rebels had to be withdrawn but one is led to understand why many in England, especailly non-conformists, were suppporters of the rebels. Newton was an eirenic man who eschewed party labels and associated with Christian irrespective of denominational labels. This is a great biography and I hope we will have more from this fine Christian author.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By E. J. Ludwig on February 10, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Aitken's book takes us through John Newton's amazing life, and I found myself very pleased to read the story of Newton's role in the abolition of the slave trade through his influence on his friend Wilberforce (who served in Parliament devoting his life to abolition) as well as his own testimonies to the British authorities. Further, his Christian devotion to William Cowper helped that troubled man get through many dark periods -- even suicide attempts -- and he, Cowper, became one of the leading lights of 18th century English literature.
Also, his devotion to and love for his wife, Polly, is also heavily accented in this work. It was a 43 year love affair, despite the fact that many found her to be unattractice and somewhat deficient between the ears. Also, they never had children. Nonetheless from the day he first set eyes upon her until the day of her death, she was his one and only.
Rev. Newton also demonstrated singular devotion to hymnody in worship services which was suspect in high Church of England circles at that time. He showed a sympathy for and interest in some of the religious enthusiasts of the day that rankled some of his Church of England contemporaries, but his charitable attitudes seemed to win over those who needed to be won over, and the cause of Christ was served mightily by the man until he was in his eighties (he was exceedingly long-lived for a person in that century).
The author is thorough in his treatment of the above themes, but the work is a little too cooly detached for my taste which is why I have given it a four rather than a five. It's filled with facts, yet the texture of the man doesn't really come across.
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