I had a friend recommend this book, so I ordered it. I found it enjoyable to read and inspirational. At a time when courage is so rare, the biographies about the courage of these seven men challenged me to be more courageous and stand for truth.
I have a wonderful book to review today: 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness by Eric Metaxas. My first experience with Eric Metaxas was a children's book he wrote about Squanto, the Indian who helped the Pilgrims survive in the new year. He revealed what most historians leave out today about this amazing man. The next time I heard about him was on the Veggie Tale's DVD about Esther. It's obvious that Metaxas has an incredible ability to bring to life the great people of history. And he has absolutely done that with his new book 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness.
Metaxas spends one chapter with each of these men: George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson. I was riveted reading about these men and aspects of their lives I had never heard before. I loved learning about how their great faith in God got them through extraordinarily difficult circumstances-leading the American army in war, fighting against powerful men to end the slave trade, living in a Japanese concentration camp in China, hoping to survive a German concentration camp after plotting to assassinate the evil Hitler, holding his tongue against blatant racism so he could pave the way for future African Americans to integrate into American society, hiding his studying to be a priest while under German occupation during the war, and surviving prison while serving a sentence for breaking the law and then finding numerous ways to help prisoners for the rest of his life.
Each chapter had enough that I really felt like I was beginning to know the person, but not a full biography. Metaxas has written full books about both William Wilberforce and Dietrich Bonhoeffer.
I was so inspired by these seven great Christian men. They weren't perfect-far from it in fact-but they all had strong courage and perseverance which came through their relationship with Jesus Christ. I am now excited to meet them all in heaven one day!
(I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher through Booksneeze in order to write this honest review.)
Seven Men and the Secret of their Greatness is not just another book on leadership, or success, or fame and fortune. This book has real heart and its intent isn't to make you more successful, but to simply shine a light on the path to being a better man.
Eric Metaxas has already written extended biographies on Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer and abolitionist William Wilberforce. Seven Men is a collection of seven short biographies on seven men that have influenced Eric's life and revealed to him what manhood, real God-given manhood, is all about.
Why does the book exist?
From the outset Eric seeks to answer two questions: What is a man? What makes a man great?
To answer these questions he says, "you can talk about right and wrong all day long, but ultimately people need to see it. Seeing and studying the actual lives of people is simply the best way to communicate ideas about how to behave and how not to behave. We need heroes and role models."
The seven role models that Eric chose are George Washington (the first U.S. President), William Wilberforce (British abolitionist), Eric Liddell (Athlete and Missionary), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Pastor and freedom fighter), Jackie Robinson (Athlete), Pope John Paul II (Pope), and Charles "Chuck" Colson (Lawyer and Evangelist). He admits that Jesus is his greatest role model and this book is about how these men responded to the call of Christ on their lives.
There is a lot to be gained in this book. The stories are told in compelling fashion and do not shy away from the failures of these men. In fact, the failures help illuminate brightly where the men went right.
George Washington's horrendous mistakes in the French and Indian War coupled with his faith in Christ led him to be the man called the Father of the United States and give away the chance for supreme power.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, because of his desire to see people follow Christ and not Hitler, saw the danger of Hitler seemingly before anyone else. He did not sit idly by hiding behind pastor's robes, but instead became part of the movement to stop Hitler. Bonhoeffer was executed as a conspirator.
Chuck Colson, one of the architects of the Nixon era Watergate scandal, went to jail for his crimes. His new found faith in Christ after the scandal and before going to jail were seen as a ruse, but Colson accepted his time in prison and used it to reach out to the men their with the message of forgiveness that only Christ can offer.
Eric Liddel wasn't just an athlete, but a missionary who gave up the American dream to take Christ to the world. Jackie Robinson didn't just break the color barrier in baseball he was a living example of not returning hatred with hatred because of his faith in Christ.
And the stories continue_
The Wrap Up
While I'm not equipped to verify all the history of the book it does include 21 pages of footnotes and an extensive index. Eric is not trying to hide anything here, or gloss over anything that would go against these men.
He is trying to highlight the secret to real manhood and the answer is simple: faith in Jesus Christ, lived out.
This is not just a book for men, but also a chance for women to see examples of the way a good man should act.
In Eric's words
God's idea of making men strong was so that they would use that strength to protect women and children and anyone else. There's something heroic in that. Male strength is a gift from God, it's always and everywhere meant to be used to bless others.
I couldn't agree more.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneezeÃÂ®.com book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 : "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
Eric Metaxas brings his skill as a writer and researcher to this excellent series of biographies. Each man's story is told with care, accuracy and depth, giving us important insights and reflections on their life and spiritual journeys. Each chapter stands on its own as a great piece of writing and together they make a life-changing book.
I haven't read a lot of biographies. I prefer theological and practical discipleship books. That being said, one of the greatest gifts that came from receiving "7 Men" to review was the inspiration to read more biographies Ã¢â¬â because I loved it! What an inspiring book.
I've really been missing out and Metaxas' introduction gives some great reasons why it is important to put aside other things to read biographies of great men (and women): We need heroes!
Certainly Jesus is the hero for all generations, but God seems to have designed humanity with the need to follow in the footsteps of less-divine men as well. All of us need to find people we can look up to and emulate (and learn from when they catastrophically blow it). We need mentors who are right in front of us, in our homes, churches and neighbourhoods, and those who have passed from this life. Without giving these people influence over our lives we live life myopic at best, or blind at worst. "7 Men" gives us a great sampling of heroes to help open our eyes.
Metaxas is an incredible writer and intelligent scholar, but what surprised me about this book was that he wrote more as a fan than a researcher. His accurate language and love for details were all there, and the writing was impeccable, but the heart behind the words was what really came to the forefront. He wants every reader Ã¢â¬â particularly the men Ã¢â¬â to be as inspired, excited and amazed by these men as he is. And not just the men, but by the God who created these men, the Christ who saved them, and the Holy Spirit who lived in their hearts and motivated their lives.
This is no dry series of biographies full of events and dates. This book is meant to challenge and motivate us to a greater awareness of life. Each biography gives us lessons to learn, habits to adopt, mistakes to avoid and points us to God as our ultimate source of wisdom and strength.