For as much as I love history, there always seems to be a key player or two who I have never heard of and then I feel like a fake fan. One such example? George Whitefield. We’ll just blame my Church history professor on my lack of knowledge. After this book though, all that has changed.
A groundbreaking look at the strange friendship between George Whitefield and Benjamin Franklin, who together defined what it means to be an American.
They were the most famous men in America. They came from separate countries, followed different philosophies, and led dissimilar lives. But they were fast friends. No two people did more to shape America in the mid-1700s.
Benjamin Franklin was the American prototype: hard-working, inventive, practical, funny, with humble manners and lofty dreams. George Whitefield was the most popular preacher in an era of great piety, whose outdoor preaching across the colonies was heard by thousands, all of whom were told, “You must be born again.” People became excited about God. They began reading the Bible and supporting charities. When Whitefield died in 1770, on a preaching tour in New Hampshire, he had built a spiritual foundation for a new nation―just as his surviving friend, Ben Franklin, had built its social foundation. Together these two men helped establish a new nation founded on liberty. This is the story of their amazing friendship.
“Whitefield and Franklin were not just the two most famous people in America in their time – they were also the most significant. The effects of their lives and their work are still being felt today.”
There was plenty for me to learn with this book, including several fun facts about both Benjamin and George. The organization of the chapters interrupted the flow of the book a bit, especially in the first half. Even with that, the author made good points showing their impact and friendship was long lasting.
If anything, I think this book spurs people to look deeper into both of their lives and how people on opposite ends of the belief spectrum can still be friends.
I’ll close with this interesting quote:
“Like George, we are, as a nation, very religious. Like Ben, we like to make up our own beliefs. About half of Americans call themselves evangelical, children of the Great Awakening. Many use George’s favorite term: born again. But others do not share this faith. Many, like Ben…take an “enlightened” approach to life, focusing on the natural world, not the supernatural.
We are George and Ben.”
Who have you recently learned about from the pages of history?
(Thank you to BookLook Bloggers for a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review)