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Eric Liddell: Pure Gold

By David McCasland
November 2012 | Review by Julia Milner


Through the inspiring film, Chariots of Fire, the world knows something of the athlete who ran for gold at the Paris Olympics in 1924. Pure Gold tells the larger story of Eric Liddell: his upbringing in China as the son of missionary parents, his deep love for his devoted wife Florence, his zealous and outspoken faith and his tragic death at a Japanese internment camp just months before the end of the Second World War. Pure Gold is widely considered to be the best biography of Eric Liddell. Comprehensive and moving, and supported by 16 pages of photographs and significant supplementary material, it was first published in the US and has not previously had a UK edition.

  • Publisher: Lion Hudson
  • ISBN: 978-0-7459-5571-1
  • Pages: 334
  • Price: 9.99
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Book Review

Eric Liddell: Pure Gold

David McCasland

Lion Hudson

297 pages, £9.99

ISBN: 978-0-7459-5571-1

Star rating:4


With all the hype of the London Olympics, the biography of Eric Liddell has a contemporary feel. Many people know (perhaps from the movie Chariots of Fire) the stand that Eric took in the 1924 Paris Olympics not to run the 100m race he had trained for, and was capable of winning, as it took place on the Lord’s Day. Instead he decided to run the 200m and 400m races (which he hadn’t trained for in the same way) and yet still managed to win a bronze in the 200m and a gold in the 400m in which he set a new world record.

      While many people’s knowledge of Eric Liddell stops there, the biography sheds far more light on the passion driving him and his heart to reach the lost. He spent much of his free time giving talks (‘campaigns’) organized by his friend D.P. Thomson around Scotland and England until he finally felt the pull to China to work as a missionary teacher at the Tientsin Anglo-Chinese College at the age of 24 for the remainder of his life.

      The biography is extensive in covering Eric’s life. The style of the book is unusual in that the biographer comments on the thought life of the people involved so in some places it reads more like a novel than a traditional biography. From the bibliography, however, you can instantly see that the author had thoroughly researched his subject, obtaining personal letters, and conducting interviews with surviving relatives who perhaps would be able to comment more intimately on Eric’s life and the people who he spent time with.

      Any one interested in having a deeper understanding of the man behind the medal would

certainly not be disappointed in reading this book and indeed would be challenged in their

own spiritual walk.


Julia Milner,


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