Many reasons combine to make this full-scale portrait of Whitefield a biography of impressive importance. Whitefield's life provides in itself a story scarcely paralleled. From the age of 24 when he commanded the largest congregations yet seen in America, until his death 30 years later, his was the voice heard by the English-speaking world. By common consent he was the greatest preacher of the 18th Century, and of his preaching gifts J. C. Ryle wrote, "No Englishman, I believe, dead or alive, has ever equaled him." This first volume, covering the years from Whitefield's birth in 1714 to his second visit to America in 1739-40, throws new light on several aspects of Whitefield's early life and traces both in depth and with vivid simplicity the beginning of 'the Great Awakening.'