Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Amazing Grace: The Life of John Newton and the Surprising Story Behind His Song by Bruce Hindmarsh, Craig Borlase



Amazing Grace is the surprising true story of John Newton, author of the song that has touched millions. A biography that reads like a novel, it reveals Newton’s dramatic story of sin and salvation as a slave trader before his ultimate transformation to speaking out against the horror of slavery. His story speaks to the brokenness within us all and our need for God’s amazing grace—and reveals the truth behind his song.

Amazing Grace is based on years of research on the life and writings of John Newton. It tells of a prodigal who returns home, and a young love that defies the odds; of a young man whose life is torn by grief and wounded by the cruelty of others, following his descent into deeper suffering and finally into the brutal world of the slave trade. Newton rejects God repeatedly but is rescued by a divine mercy that reaches deeper than he could ever have imagined as he ultimately faces his past and repents.

Newton’s story is shocking, and Amazing Grace does not try to airbrush or excuse his faults. There are glaring contradictions in the life of a ship’s Captain who retreats to his cabin to study his Bible and write tender love letters to his wife while hundreds of slaves lie in chains in the hold below.

The profound lessons from his life are applicable to us today, helping us to:

  • Discover that the need for grace is universal and offers the deepest hope for overcoming hatred
  • Be honest about our lives even when we are ashamed and face seemingly unresolvable problems
  • Look for grace when life is far from perfect and doesn't match up to our expectations 
  • Trust that our mistakes and regrets, no matter how deep, can be redeemed in the end


Since the first public singing of “Amazing Grace” almost 250 years ago, every generation has been profoundly moved by the song, and now readers can connect with John Newton’s story like never before. In these days of extreme polarization when beliefs about race, church, and politics have all become deeply divisive in society, we need grace more than ever. We need stories like this one that talk honestly about the human condition but even more about the relentless love of God and his forgiveness of sins.



About The Authors


Bruce Hindmarsh, DPhil (Oxon), is the James M. Houston Professor of Spiritual Theology and Professor of the History of Christianity at Regent College in Vancouver. He is a fellow of the Royal Historical Society and a past-president of the American Society of Church History. He was awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2022. The author of several books, Bruce speaks and writes regularly for academic and general audiences around the world on history, theology, and the spiritual life.

Craig Borlase is a New York Times, Sunday Times and international bestselling ghostwriter, collaborating with others to create dramatic, engaging memoirs. Previous work includes Finding Gobi (the New York Times bestselling account of an ultra-marathon runner's chance encounter with a stray dog in the Mongolian desert) and My Name Is Tani (the story of an eight year old chess prodigy living in a homeless shelter in NYC, soon to be a Paramount Pictures movie produced by Trevor Noah). His most recent project is a powerful story of redemption for a man sentenced to life for a crime he committed as a child.  

My Review

Yes, I love the song Amazing Grace, and knew some of his being a slave trader, but what an eye opener into what made this gifted man.

From an irresponsible young man to a gifted minister of the faith, we follow John from one disaster to another, and even wonder at times how he will survive all that happens to him!

I am so glad to have read this, such a blight on history, but it was a blessing to read this!

I received this book through Net Galley and Thomas Nelson/W. Publishing, and was not required to give a positive review.

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