A fascinating journey through the history of "Amazing Grace," one of the transatlantic world's most popular hymns and a powerful anthem for humanity.
Sung in moments of personal isolation or on state occasions watched by millions, "Amazing Grace" has become an unparalleled anthem for humankind. How did a simple Christian hymn, written in a remote English vicarage in 1772, come to hold such sway over millions in all corners of the modern world? With this short, engaging cultural history, James Walvin offers an explanation.
The greatest paradox is that the author of "Amazing Grace," John Newton, was a former Liverpool slave captain. Walvin follows the song across the Atlantic to track how it became part of the cause for abolition and galvanized decades of movements and trends in American history and popular culture. By the end of the twentieth century, "Amazing Grace" was performed in Soweto and Vanuatu, by political dissidents in China, and by Kikuyu women in Kenya. No other song has acquired such global resonance as "Amazing Grace," and its fascinating history is well worth knowing.
About the Author
James Walvin is Professor of History Emeritus at the University of York. He has published widely on slavery and modern social history. His most recent book is A World Transformed: Slavery in the Americas and the Origins of Global Power.
"A solid and well-researched effort about this famous, often-sung song." — Library Journal
"His affection for his subject is contagious and his engagement comprehensive, and his account is full of fascinating detail." — Wall Street Journal