by Edwin L. Carpenter – Associate Editor, The Dove Foundation
Ken Wales, the producer of “Amazing Grace: The Story of William Wilberforce,” has co-written a book with his wife Susan and with Ted Baehr, called “The Amazing Grace of Freedom,” in which he gives the illuminating details of both the historical story and the behind-the-scenes story of the film.
This book is well researched, well written, and is highlighted with pictures from the movie, historical sketches and paintings as well as photos of statues of the principals, and additionally includes maps and timelines.
The book consists of approximately 139 pages and the color illustrations and photos add a nice contrast to the black and white pages and map illustrations.
The ‘timelines and dates’ feature is most interesting, with notes such as: “1822: Wilberforce helps form the Anti-Slavery Society,” to “1878: William Booth (1829—1912) founds the Salvation Army.”
The thrust of the book is obviously Wilberforce’s campaign for the emancipation of slaves. His efforts in working through the obstacles in Parliament not only make an interesting film but the depth of his research shows in the book as well. The reader will learn much about history as well as the classes of society during Wilberforce’s time, including a background of the religious beliefs of the Church of England. The violence in the treatment of slaves is a real eye-opener and impacts the reader like a punch to the gut. An example of the horrible treatment the slaves endured is seen in the film, when a few of the movie’s characters refer to the stench of a slave ship, where slaves were chained and beaten, and vomited and relieved themselves on the ship.
In the book one slave refers to a white man taking away his fish; his only meal for the day. Of course the terrible separation of husbands taken from wives and wives from husbands, and children grasped from parents is also poignantly portrayed in the book.
“The Amazing Grace of Freedom” is available from New Leaf Press and appropriately the film opens in February, during Black History Month.