The scene is easy to recall. A group of young athletes in slow-motion, running on a beach, to a Vangelis score. The camera finds the beatific face of a young Eric Liddell, and the Chariots of Fire magic washes over you once more. It’s a great movie and a powerful story—the story of a unique Olympian, a conscience-driven Christian man, who was very fast and felt God’s pleasure in that fastness.
Yet here is the remarkable truth: Chariots of Fire did not tell the most engrossing part of Liddell’s remarkable life. This is left to Duncan Hamilton and his new biography, For the Glory: Eric Liddell’s Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr. Hamilton’s book spans the full spectrum of the Olympic champion’s life, allowing us an extended look at Liddell’s work as a missionary in China. The world might like the athletic heroism best, but Christians will find Hamilton’s portrait of Liddell’s sacrificial labor deeply stirring.
Hamilton is well known in the UK as an award-winning sportswriter. This nearly 400-page text amply demonstrates his talents, as not a word is wasted, and many an opportunity for a fresh metaphor taken. For the Glory fits self-consciously in the vein of true tales like Unbrokenand The Boys in the Boat, and belongs in their company for its dramatic power. Like the camera at an Olympic event, we rarely linger long on any one aspect of Liddell’s story; Hamilton keeps the pace at a fast clip, and his cut-glass prose focuses our attention squarely on the champion.
‘Each One Comes to the Cross-roads’
The biography is not hagiography, but it is deeply appreciative of Liddell’s character and example. While some readers might want more ...1