About Me I am a retired librarian and I now support books and authors through my reviews.

I have always loved to read and I was able to share that love through my work as a public librarian for 22 1/2 years. I now promote literacy by reading, and then writing reviews. I love to support authors by sharing my reviews with others!

Thursday, March 9, 2023

Amazing Grace: The Life of John Newton and the Surprising Story Behind His Song by Bruce Hindmarsh & Craig Borlaise

Amazing Grace: The Life of John Newton and the Surprising Story Behind His SongABOUT THE BOOK

Amazing Grace is the surprising true story of John Newton, author of the song that has touched millions. A biography that reads like a novel, it reveals Newton’s dramatic story of sin and salvation as a slave trader before his ultimate transformation to speaking out against the horror of slavery. His story speaks to the brokenness within us all and our need for God’s amazing grace—and reveals the truth behind his song.

Amazing Grace is based on years of research on the life and writings of John Newton. It tells of a prodigal who returns home, and a young love that defies the odds; of a young man whose life is torn by grief and wounded by the cruelty of others, following his descent into deeper suffering and finally into the brutal world of the slave trade. Newton rejects God repeatedly but is rescued by a divine mercy that reaches deeper than he could ever have imagined as he ultimately faces his past and repents.

Newton’s story is shocking, and Amazing Grace does not try to airbrush or excuse his faults. There are glaring contradictions in the life of a ship’s Captain who retreats to his cabin to study his Bible and write tender love letters to his wife while hundreds of slaves lie in chains in the hold below.

The profound lessons from his life are applicable to us today, helping us to:

Discover that the need for grace is universal and offers the deepest hope for overcoming hatred
Be honest about our lives even when we are ashamed and face seemingly unresolvable problems
Look for grace when life is far from perfect and doesn't match up to our expectations 
Trust that our mistakes and regrets, no matter how deep, can be redeemed in the end

Since the first public singing of “Amazing Grace” almost 250 years ago, every generation has been profoundly moved by the song, and now readers can connect with John Newton’s story like never before. In these days of extreme polarization when beliefs about race, church, and politics have all become deeply divisive in society, we need grace more than ever. We need stories like this one that talk honestly about the human condition but even more about the relentless love of God and his forgiveness of sins.


John Newton's life is explored in this new book but it reads more like a novel than a biography. Authors Bruce Hindmarsh and Craig Borlase write about Newton's personal life and his work as a minister but it never appears to be just fact after fact after fact! I've long known about his hymn Amazing Grace and Newton's strong stance against slavery, but this book shares so much more. His life was filled with abuse, sorrow, and many wrong choices, including being a slave trader himself, until... the power of a loving God changed all of that. John Newton is the perfect example of someone who lived a wretched life, received amazing grace, and continued to enjoy it for the rest of his life!

There are many poignant lessons in this book. I loved being reminded that the grace that I was given when I first believed has continued to grow and evolve over the years. There is also the powerful suggestion that it took John Newton a long time to finally acknowledge how wrong slavery truly was. Yes, he was convicted of how wrong it was after his conversion but he didn't choose to wage his war on slavery for quite some time.  His story illustrates what many of us are painfully realizing today! Even though we are God-fearing and God-loving people, we often allow wrongdoing because it is being accepted by others in our society. What was once shocking isn't shocking anymore! It's now easy to overlook what was once so painfully wrong!

I believe that this thought-provoking book would be a wonderful addition to a church library. I highly recommend Amazing Grace: The Life of John Newton and the Surprising Story Behind His Song!

I received a complimentary copy from the authors and publisher via FrontGate Media. There was no obligation for a positive review. These are my own thoughts.

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Bruce Hindmarsh, DPhil (Oxon), is the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology and Professor of the History of Christianity at Regent College in Vancouver.

He wrote his doctoral thesis at Oxford on John Newton, which was published as John Newton and the English Evangelical Tradition (Oxford University Press, 1996). A paperback edition was published by Eerdmans in 2000. He also edited and wrote an introduction for an edition of Newton’s autobiography and his letters on growth in grace: The Life and Spirituality of John Newton (Regent College Publishing, 1998).

He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a past president of the American Society of Church History. His book The Spirit of Early Evangelicalism: True Religion in a Modern World won best History/Biography in the 2019 Christianity Today Book Awards.

Bruce speaks and writes regularly for academic and general audiences around the world on history, theology, and the spiritual life. Some of this work and his other books can be viewed at www.brucehindmarsh.com.

Craig Borlase is a New York Times, Sunday Times and international bestselling ghostwriter, collaborating with others to create dramatic, engaging memoirs.

Previous work includes Finding Gobi (the New York Times bestselling account of an ultra-marathon runner's chance encounter with a stray dog in the Mongolian desert) and My Name Is Tani (the story of an eight year old chess prodigy living in a homeless shelter in NYC, soon to be a Paramount Pictures movie produced by Trevor Noah).

His most recent project is a powerful story of redemption for a man sentenced to life for a crime he committed as a child. www.craigborlase.com


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