Many people will remember Eric Liddell as the Olympic gold medalist from the Academy Award winning film Chariots of Fire . Read more...
Many people will remember Eric Liddell as the Olympic gold medalist from the Academy Award winning film Chariots of Fire. Famously, Liddell would not run on Sunday because of his strict observance of the Christian sabbath, and so he did not compete in his signature event, the 100 meters, at the 1924 Paris Olympics. He was the greatest sprinter in the world at the time, and his choice not to run was ridiculed by the British Olympic committee, his fellow athletes, and most of the world press. Yet Liddell triumphed in a new event, winning the 400 meters in Paris.
Liddell ran--and lived--for the glory of his God. After winning gold, he dedicated himself to missionary work. He travelled to China to work in a local school and as a missionary. He married and had children there. By the time he could see war on the horizon, Liddell put Florence, his pregnant wife, and children on a boat to Canada, while he stayed behind, his conscience compelling him to stay among the Chinese. He and thousands of other westerners were eventually interned at a Japanese work camp.
Once imprisoned, Liddell did what he was born to do, practice his faith and his sport. He became the moral center of an unbearable world. He was the hardest worker in the camp, he counseled many of the other prisoners, he gave up his own meager portion of meals many days, and he organized games for the children there. He even raced again. For his ailing, malnourished body, it was all too much. Liddell died of a brain tumor just before the end of the war. His passing was mourned around the world, and his story still inspires.
In the spirit of The Boys in the Boat and Unbroken, For the Glory is both a compelling narrative of athletic heroism and a gripping story of faith in the darkest circumstances.
Publishers Weekly® Reviews
- Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
- Review Date: 2016-01-11
- Reviewer: Staff
British sports hero Liddell (1902–1945), best known as the lead character in the film Chariots of Fire, returns to center stage in this in-depth biography. Hamilton, a sportswriter based in the U.K., gives plenty of attention to Liddell’s famous decision to forgo running the 100-meter race at the 1928 Olympics because he refused, due to religious reasons, to race on a Sunday. This story may be Liddell’s hallmark, but Hamilton presents it as just one in a long line of sacrifices that Liddell would make for his beliefs. By covering Liddell’s entire life, from his birth into a Christian missionary family and athletic career to his nearly 20 years of missionary work in China and his subsequent death there in an internment camp, Hamilton shows Liddell as more than a star who used the spotlight to call attention to his beliefs and himself: he was a truly selfless human being who gave everything he had to others. Hamilton seamlessly combines quotes from research documents, historical facts, and his own way with words (“Liddell had become a public speaker for God”), and his writing feels effortless in this inspiring story. (May)
A Scottish sprinter's inspiring saga
Maybe they made the wrong movie.
Or, at least, perhaps there should have been a sequel to Chariots of Fire, the 1981 historical drama that became an international hit and won four Academy Awards. That’s because, as British author Duncan Hamilton writes in For the Glory, Scottish sprinter Eric Liddell’s life was really just beginning when he won a gold medal in the 400 meters at the 1924 Summer Olympics after missing out on the 100-meter event by famously refusing to race on Sunday in accordance with his Christian beliefs.
As Hamilton depicts in this vivid and heartfelt narrative, Liddell went on to make a far more lasting mark in life than his athletic triumphs. A year after his Olympic glory in Paris, he began serving as a teacher and missionary in a remote region of China, where he was born the son of missionary parents. It was a difficult life in an environment already hostile to outsiders, and it became progressively more difficult as war clouds threatened. Ultimately, Liddell and other Westerners were sent to a Japanese work camp, where he died at age 43 from a brain tumor in 1945.
Hamilton’s passion for his subject shows through on every page as he recounts life in the camp, where Liddell worked tirelessly, gave up his meager rations and counseled despondent fellow internees. He also could be cajoled into the occasional footrace, never being beaten until near the end of his life.
Through it all, Liddell held to his beliefs and inspired countless others to follow in his footsteps. Hamilton makes it clear: His race became theirs, and the human race was the better for it.