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Book review by Sarah Chaudhary
A gripping and edifying read about the English abolitionists, their fight against slavery – and the one who started it all.
“Please show me the way, O God. I know that slavery makes you weep, and that you created all me to be free…I know that the task for bringing down slavery is an honourable one. But it will be terrifying and difficult, and who knows if it is your will that I succeed?”
When Thomas Clarkson began writing an essay for a university award on the slave trade, he had no idea what God had in store for him. It wasn’t long before he was shaken by the horrors of slavery which had been unknown to him and most people in England (this book describes about the slave trade in a way which is clear about its atrocities and sensitive to younger readers). But Clarkson’s profound faith in God and deep sense of justice convicted him that something had to be done. Clarkson realised that if he were to try and take down the slave trade, it would mean giving up his academic career and dreams of becoming a bishop, and it would take his whole life.
In this book, follow Clarkson’s journeys around England as he fought to make the horrors of the slave trade known – as he travels hundreds of miles to find sailors willing to testify, narrowly escapes an attempt on his life, meets with William Wilberforce and John Newton to share his crucial research, and rides through a storm at midnight to track down an important lead. At every turn, it looks like his efforts are thwarted – many people turn against him or are bullied into withdrawing their evidence, Parliament votes again and again against abolition, and dark rumours are spread to discredit his work.
Clarkson was right – the fight to end slavery consumed his whole life, but his tireless perseverance and faith in God was vital to the eventual abolition of the slave trade in England and paved the way for many other countries to do likewise.
Though The Giant with One Idea is intended for primary-aged readers, I found it hard to put down. Clarkson’s infectious passion for God’s justice and unstoppable zeal leap off the page. As it recounts the story of a faithful man in history, the book also encourages readers to count the cost of their faith in God, to never give up their pursuit of what is right, to be willing to sacrifice everything, and, above all, to trust God.