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Amazing Grace: A Cultural History of the Beloved Hymn (Hardcover)

Amazing Grace: A Cultural History of the Beloved Hymn By James Walvin Cover Image
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“A compelling story of a hymn rescued from the horror of slavery . . . in the author’s hands, 'Amazing Grace' lands firmly on the right side of history.”―TLS

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.

Praise For…

"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

"Walvin's book is a testament to his excellence as a historian. . . . [He] gives us a meaningful survey of a beloved hymn that is well worth the reader's time. It would be of interest especially for those curious about the confluence of history, social change and religion. . . . Amazing Grace delivers an insightful look at the perennial appeal of a cherished classic."
— National Catholic Reporter

"A short but fascinating book."
— The Economist

"The author’s research and writing are powerful and compelling. If you’re interested in musical history, religion, and both the human and American experience, Amazing Grace sums up much of our complex, ever-evolving story."
— 1776Books.net

"A compelling story of a hymn rescued from the horror of slavery to become ‘a bold assertion for humanity’—a song about forgiveness that ends up travelling its own arc of redemption. Indeed, in the author’s hands, “Amazing Grace” lands firmly on the right side of history." 
— Times Literary Supplement

 "It’s a nice story and it is nicely told by John Walvin"
— The Interim

Product Details
ISBN: 9780520391826
ISBN-10: 0520391829
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication Date: October 31st, 2023
Pages: 216
Language: English

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