Book Review: “Seven Men” by Eric Metaxas

27 May

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Confession time: I don’t read a lot of biographies.

There are people that consume them like I consume bacon, but to me the idea of reading an entire book on a person (even if that person is completely amazing) sounds a little tedious at best.

However, when I first heard about the book “Seven Men: And The Secret To Their Greatness” I was convinced to give it a read for four reasons:

  1. I have heard nothing but glowing praise for Eric Metaxas and his apparently brilliant book on Bonhoeffer
  2. The fact that it is specifically a book about great godly men sounded appealing because of the thrust of this blog
  3. Being a biography noob, the idea of essentially reading 7 mini-biographies seemed less intimidating than one big one
  4. I had an opportunity to it for free if I reviewed it… and the only thing better than a good book is a good book that is also free.

So how did I like the book? We’ll get to that, but first some more about it…

According to the book description,

In Seven Men, New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas presents seven exquisitely crafted short portraits of widely known—but not well understood—Christian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues in the truth of the gospel.

In his book, Eric Metaxas looks at the lives of a fairly diverse set of men:

  • George Washington (America’s first president),
  • William Wilberforce (Fought the slave trade in England)
  • Eric Liddell (Olympic athlete and missionary to China)
  • Dietrich Bonhoeffer (Pastor and theologian who stood up to Hitler)
  • Jackie Robinson (Broke the color-barrier in Major League Baseball)
  • Pope John Paul II (Fought against abortion and homosexuality)
  • Charles Colson (Went from being a crook to starting an epic prison ministry)

While I did enjoy the book (greatly), and learned a lot (and I mean A LOT!) about these great men, I must say that I wasn’t blown away by it for two major reasons…

First of all, I didn’t connect with each of the men covered in the book… which is completely what I expected would happen. I enjoyed some of the sections immensely (Liddell, Bonhoeffer, Robinson), but in some of the sections, I was just dutifully plowing through a profile hoping the next would be more compelling. Perhaps all of the above men listed are intriguing to you, but I think that many people will feel the disconnect in at least a few places.

Secondly, I was hoping for a more distinct application element. With the book’s subtitle being, “And The Secret To Their Greatness”, I was expecting more of a direct explanation: “This is what they did… These are ways that you can model their behavior in your own life.” For many of the profiles, the men secret of their greatness was two fold: They had the raw materials to be great already, and they all had strength of character (or in Colson’s case, eventually got there). They all exercised character differently (Washington=humility, Robinson=patience, Liddell=sacrifice, etc), but at the end of the day, there isn’t much of a secret to these men’s success: when given a platform, they didn’t change who they were from who they didn’t have it. They were good guys and they kept being good guys. Not much of a secret there.

Having said that, it was well researched and solidly written by Eric Metaxas–I learned a lot more about all of these men! I went in thinking, “I’ve read a history book or two. I already know about Washington/Liddell/Bonhoeffer. Go ahead! Impress me with your research.”

He did. I found out that I knew next to nothing (other than a broad, flyover knowledge) of any of these seven men. And now I know a lot more. If for no other reason, I am thankful to know a bit more about some great figures in history.

That having been said, I have not been converted into a biography reader, but if you already are one, I’m sure you would get more out of it than I did. Give it a read!

 

-Dave Wonders

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(I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze.com  book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review.)

One Response to “Book Review: “Seven Men” by Eric Metaxas”

  1. computer repair aurora Il June 4, 2013 at 02:46 #

    Thanks!

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