Biographies of Christians can be rich feasts that inspire believers. How excellent it is to have a new work that should rank as one of the best of this present generation.
Duncan Hamilton is a sports writer and apparently not a Christian, so it is remarkable how he spent over eighteen months researching the life of Eric Liddell. Hamilton is a gifted writer, evidenced by his command of English and insight into Liddell’s character and work.
Following visits to places where Liddell lived, including China and Canada, Hamilton has produced a detailed work that is hard to put down. He interviewed family members and friends who gave accounts of Liddell. Each part of this fascinating and godly man’s life is seasoned with the author’s evident love for the subject.
Hamilton reveals Liddell as an Olympic sportsman first of all. Liddell was famed for winning gold in the 400 metres race at the 1924 Olympics. This followed his refusal to compete on the Lord’s Day for the 100 metres event, a distance he was more suited to.
Liddell’s subsequent work was that of an outstanding missionary and minister, spending much of his adult life in China. For this he should be best remembered, and Hamilton details this fruitful time with brilliant descriptive power. Eric witnessed China’s descent into a savage civil war, before its invasion by Japan. Liddell was robbed and lived under the spectre of roaming bandits and soldiers, at whose hands many other missionaries met their demise.
The Japanese interned certain Westerners in camps. Here people starved and suffered regular beatings and wickedness, which is sparingly mentioned by Hamilton. This can make harrowing reading, so the book is not for the young or faint-hearted. Liddell’s final years were spent in such a camp, ministering God’s Word and living a Christ-like life.
Eric died in the camp from a brain tumour, sadly separated from his beloved family. Known by fellow internees for spending each waking hour in prayer and having his life solidly patterned on the Sermon on the Mount, Liddell has left us a challenging and godly example. A book which moved this reviewer to tears, For the glory is thoroughly recommended.