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John Newton (Biography) Hardcover – January 1, 2001

2.5 out of 5 stars 2 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Series: Biography
  • Hardcover: 420 pages
  • Publisher: Christian Focus (January 1, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1857922840
  • ISBN-13: 978-1857922844
  • Product Dimensions: 5.6 x 1.2 x 8.7 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.5 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,683,730 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Hardcover
I suggest that you ignore bookwomanjoan's review. The basic format of the book is Richard Cecil's, the language unchanged. Nineteenth century English is not that hard to read. The spelling is consistent, there is more punctuation that is typical today, but if you can read the KJV, you will have no trouble with this. I should note that a modern typeface has been used (a nice roman font) and that it is much easier to read than the long out-of print original copies. The basic organization is Cecil's - you get 9 chapters of biography followed by some of Newton's observations followed by more of Cecil's. Each chapter is followed by an appendix by Rousse that put things in context. The original text was written for someone familiar with Newton's milieu, the appendixes provide the details needed to get a complete picture. You can safely ignore them.

The book ends with a Who's Who, more of Newton's writings and a bibliography. It isn't an easy read, but the work is worthwhile if you are interested in a contemporary view of John Newton and his role in the ending of the slave trade. The book also contains the sermon notes that are the basis for Amazing Grace.

If you want an easy read, read Steve Turner's "Amazing Grace." Turner describes the work under review here thus : "Her research was fastidious, an obvious labor of love, and was immensely helpful." If you have read literature of the period, you won't find this a difficult read. It's also good for browsing and makes an excellent companion to Newton's autobiography.
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Format: Hardcover
It is rare that I give up on a book. I slogged through this one to over half of the original (Cecil's) text and just had to give up. Newton's own narrative is interspersed with Cecil's biography. And then there are the Appendices placed at the end of each chapter. Reading this book is like reading a few paragraphs from one 18th century author, then another, then a few notes about the previous sections. It is very hard to follow. Some of the notes deal with people who knew Newton and are more about those individuals than Newton!
I am very disappointed in Rousse's editing job. She could have done a much, much better job of rearranging the material to make it flow in a readable fashion. The language is awkward and hard to understand. A little editing in updating the language for today's reader would have helped also.
Cecil"s "authorized" biography was written within a year or so of Newton's death. Perhaps, as it was published so soon, Cecil seems to have deliberately glossed over Newton's life while captain of a slave trading ship. Except for a minor allusion, one would have thought Newton's ship was one carrying spices or something. (One needs to remember his being captain of a slave ship was after his "conversion" during a severe storm at sea.)
If you are a scholar and are looking for first sources, then perhaps you will appreciate this book. If you want a readable book on John Newton's life, by all means skip this one.
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