Bono on Bono Michka Assayas, Hodder and Stoughton, 2005
So much is written about the icons of today's pop culture and much of it doesn’t bear reading. It is vacuous and meaningless in terms of helping people to discover their true God-given potential. This book, however, is a departure from the trend. It gives us an interesting insight into the thinking and the faith of one of the world's leading rock stars, but engages the reader because it engaging is written as a series of transcripts from interviews conducted over a several years. The interviews are more than the usual journalistic Q&A sessions, where the usual bland questions are given the usual vacuous answers. These discussions are more intimate and, at at times, heart to heart -- more like a true discussion between friends. The author manages to track Bono's thinking on major issues, as well as the world of rock and roll. He leaves us with a very human picture of a man of Christian conviction and faith who has achieved influence in our postmodern world.
Heroes Who Changed the World Ben Alex, Scandinavia Publishing House, 2000
This biography of heroes of faith started out as a children's book project. It fulfils that mandate beautifully. Its original illustrations, combined with interesting layout and photographs add real colour to the brief biographical stories of people like Martin Luther, David Livingstone, Hudson Taylor, Mother Teresa, Francis of Assisi, and Martin Luther King Jr. It's the kind of book every Christian child or young teenager would do well to read. But its appeal is not limited to children. I fell in love with this book when I first read it just a few years ago. It gives a great overview of people whose lives changed cultures and nations because of their faith. So, you might buy it for your kids, but end up reading it yourself. And it will do you more good than Harry Potter!
Long Walk to Freedom Nelson Mandela, Abacus Books, 1994
I love this book. I love the man. We all know something about Mandela's stand against apartheid and his imprisonment for 27 years, 18 of them spent on the infamous Robben Island. In this account though, the man himself writes with such down-to-earth humanity, that you feel you are with him right through his ordeal. He comes across as a very humane individual and someone who has learned a lot along the way. He speaks from the heart and, while he is likely to scathing about the effect of apartheid on his people, he does not speak with rancour about those who put him in prison. Every leader -- whether in business, community or church life -- should read this book. My copy is dogeared and filled with underlinings. Don't miss it -- it's hard to put down.
Let The Trumpet Sound: A Life of Martin Luther King Stephen B. Oates, Payback Press, 1982 and 1994
This really is a must-read for anyone who is interested in the life of America's greatest civil rights leader. King was, of course, a brilliant orator who is sometimes best remembered for his "I Have a Dream" speech, but his importance goes way beyond that. Some biographies are not all that readable; they get mired down in dates and details. This book is an exception. It is highly readable and looks at King's life and legacy in a way that is both challenging and inspiring. A very inspiring read.
Foxe's Book of Martyrs Prepared by W. G. Berry, Baker Book House, 1978
This is a classic which recounts the lives, trials and deaths of Christian martyrs throughout history. It looks at the root of religious persecution throughout Western history and focuses on great people of faith such as John Wycliffe, John Huss, William Tyndale, Martin Luther and Thomas Cramner. It is certainly not light bedtime reading, but this book still has the power to challenge us as to the depth of our Christian commitment. It also shows us the power of faith when it comes under pressure.
Blood and Fire: The Story of William & Catherine Booth and the Salvation Army Roy Hattersley, Abacus Books
Whether you think you would like to know the William Booth portrayed in these pages or not, you will come to respect the compassion for hurting humanity that drove him and his devoted wife Catherine to form the Salvation Army. This story is not about humanitarian do-gooders. It is the tale of a couple who, by combining their very different areas of talent, formed a unit which challenged the religious and secular apathy of their time and reminded their nation once more what it really meant to be called ‘Christian’. The story of the Booths reminds us again that the major ambition of every Christ-follower must be promoting the good news message about Jesus. Good works and social care programs must then form the natural outworking of that message. The Booths were unconventional and definitely ruffled establishment feathers; but they did what had to be done to meet the need of their time.
David Livingstone: The Truth behind the Legend Rob McKenzie, Abacus Books, 1993
Anyone who has heard me speak in public on more than one occasion, knows that David Livingston remains for me an iconic figure in Christian history. Though he reportedly only made one Christian convert in all of his years working in Africa, Livingstone succeeded in changing the future of a continent and the way the rest of the world looks upon it. Driven at different points in his life by both a passion for Christian evangelism and a hatred for the African slave trade, Livingstone promoted education, commerce and civilization in the heart of Africa. It is said that his funeral was attended by more people than the funeral of any other British individual, outside the royal family – a remarkable feat for someone born into relative poverty in Scotland. In this book, written by a man who obviously shares my love for Livingstone, we find a human being who, though flawed in some ways was a product of his times; a man of intense feeling and a strong commitment to the betterment of African life. We also see a man who tried to appreciate the unique cultures of the indigenous peoples he encountered, rather than changing them to suit his tastes. In this respect he was ahead of his time. You will not read this book without being absorbed and having your heart impacted in a powerful way.
William Tyndale: If God Spare My Life Brian Moynahan, Abacus Books, 2002
This is a remarkable story of martyrdom, betrayal and the development of the English Bible. During his lifetime, William Tyndale allowed no-one to paint or sketch his portrait, for fear that such representations would aid the people who were bent on his destruction. He was considered an enemy of the state and a danger to his society – all because of his love for one book. As a young man, Tyndale had a single passion: to translate the power of the biblical message into the English vernacular of his own people. For too long, he believed, the established Catholic Church had locked the word of God behind walls of obscure Latin-speak. He wanted to let the common people of England breath the fresh air of God's word. Tyndale paid a high price for his devotion. Forced to live on the run for much of his adult life, he managed to complete his major translations from abroad. They were smuggled back into England in bales of merchandise. Eventually, he was betrayed and martyred. Tyndale not only gave us the basis of much of the later King James (Authorized) Bible, he also helped to refine the English language itself. We still use expressions first coined by this genius of language. You cannot read this book without being deeply moved by the passion of one man who aspired to do one service for his God.
John Wesley: A Brand from the Burning Roy Hattersley, Little, Brown Publishers, 2002
Very few people, Christian or not, will argue with the idea that John Wesley was a man of great influence, both in his own time and in subsequent English history. Some secular historians have, in fact, concluded that Wesley was instrumental in helping to save England from bloody revolution, through the power of his preaching and the influence of his Wesleyan Methodist movement. This biography covers a lot of ground and seeks to portray Wesley the man rather than just the historic icon. It is well researched and mostly sympathetic to its key character, but it doesn’t try to avoid the weaknesses of character or personality which are part of the makeup of any real human being. Wesley shines through as a man of unusual energy, creativity and foresight who, despite much opposition, continued to pursue a God-given cause even into old age.
God's Renaissance Man: Abraham Kuyper Jame F. McGoldrick
Biography of a true leader who influenced the course of a nation, using Christian principles in his role as prime minister of Holland