George Whitefield is one of the most influential figures in American history, yet his life and ministry are largely unknown apart from the occasional person who knows he was instrumental in the Great Awakening. A number of biographies are available about him, but one of the most recent, and likely one of the most readable, is that by Steven J. Lawson, a professor, pastor, and author of 20 books.
This volume comes in at 156 pages, and rather than focusing solely on the details of his birth, life, and death, Lawson’s focus is on Whitefield’s ministry—his evangelistic zeal. Despite having learned a little more about Whitefield than I would guess the average person would know, I learned new things and developed a better appreciation for the man. He may have been famous, but he had his hecklers as well, and worse. Occasionally people would throw rotten fruit and vegetables at him. Once someone even threw a dead cat on stage when he preached. Additionally, there were a number of assassination attempts against him. Through it all, he stayed faithful to his mission and was seen and heard in person by more Americans than George Washington.
Because this isn’t a cradle-to-grave biography, some readers who prefer that style would be better served by a different book. Also, Lawson doesn’t look much at Whitefield’s family, and there’s nothing negative said about the man. He certainly did a lot of great things and was a sincere and devout individual, but everyone has some warts.
Finally, I should say that the audiobook version that was provided to me by christianaudio is narrated by Simon Vance, one of the best professional narrators I’ve had the pleasure of listening to. After browsing their website, it looks like they contracted with him to narrate the rest of the books in the biography series by Lawson.