Uh-oh, it looks like your Internet Explorer is out of date.

For a better shopping experience, please upgrade now.

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness

4.1 16
by Eric Metaxas

See All Formats & Editions

In Seven Men, New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas presents seven exquisitely crafted short portraits of widely known—but not well understood—Christian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues in the truth of the gospel.

Written in a beautiful and engaging style, Seven Men


In Seven Men, New York Times best-selling author Eric Metaxas presents seven exquisitely crafted short portraits of widely known—but not well understood—Christian men, each of whom uniquely showcases a commitment to live by certain virtues in the truth of the gospel.

Written in a beautiful and engaging style, Seven Men addresses what it means (or should mean) to be a man today, at a time when media and popular culture present images of masculinity that are not the picture presented in Scripture and historic civil life. What does it take to be a true exemplar as a father, brother, husband, leader, coach, counselor, change agent, and wise man? What does it mean to stand for honesty, courage, and charity, especially at times when the culture and the world run counter to those values?

Each of the seven biographies represents the life of a man who experienced the struggles and challenges to be strong in the face of forces and circumstances that would have destroyed the resolve of lesser men. Each of the seven men profiled—George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, John Paul II, and Charles Colson—call the reader to a more elevated walk and lifestyle, one that embodies the gospel in the world around us.

Editorial Reviews

In this new book, Eric Metaxas (Amazing Grace; No Pressure, Mr. President) paints word-portraits of seven exemplary men who provide Christian models of manhood untainted by bullying and bravado. His half dozen plus one are diverse; from George Washington and abolitionist William Wilberforce to anti-Nazi Lutheran preacher Dietrich Bonhoeffer and baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson.

Publishers Weekly
Metaxas’s (Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy) newest biographical effort deftly details in brief the lives of “seven of the greatest men who ever lived”— George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, Chuck Colson— with the hope that they may serve as role models for adolescents and fathers confronting what he calls “a crisis of manhood.” The men are as diverse as they are fascinating, with his list ranging from Christian leaders to sports stars. Metaxas highlights three things in each life: the critical issues and events each man confronted; the inner strength they possessed to face adversity; and the contours of a Christian faith that framed their work. While Metaxas is forced by the need for brevity to gloss over certain biographical details and skirts thorny issues with sometimes glib commentary, the reader will learn something, as Metaxas reveals surprising or little-known facts about each man. Although Metaxas, an evangelical Christian, might have included interfaith examples, readers of different religions can appreciate these men and seek to emulate their more laudable qualities. (Apr. 30)
Kirkus Reviews
Metaxas presents profiles of seven men he considers manly exemplars. The great slide into unmanliness, writes Metaxas (Bonhoeffer, 2010, etc.), began with the Vietnam War and the presidency of Richard Nixon, a time of ignorance, venality and shame, when many called nearly all authority into question. When the young turned to role models, they were more likely Cheech and Chong than Westmoreland and McNamara. But do we really have to settle for the macho meatheads or the "emasculated...pretend[ing] that there is no real difference between men and women," asks the author? Certainly not, he writes, for "God's idea of manhood is something else entirely"--no "loudmouthed bullies or soft, emasculated pseudo-men," but strong, loving, chivalrous, service-oriented men who use authority for leadership, not personal advancement. Jesus lords over this book--"My own personal greatest role model is Jesus"--but Metaxas has chosen another seven men who surrendered themselves to a high purpose and sacrificed to do the right thing. There is a goodly measure of zeal in Metaxas' style, and Jesus shares the credit with the acts of the seven men: George Washington, who could have been king but declined, and William Wilberforce, for his abolitionist stance and fights against child labor, alcoholism and animal cruelty in the 19th century. The author also includes Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II and, less convincingly, Charles Colson, perhaps only due to the fact that he was such an unsavory character before he found his calling in prison. Metaxas gives the men their rightful due without lapsing into hagiography.

Product Details

Nelson, Thomas, Inc.
Publication date:
Sold by:
Sales rank:
File size:
818 KB

Read an Excerpt




Thomas Nelson

Copyright © 2013Eric Metaxas
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-59555-470-3



George Washington


Let me begin the first biography in this book by saying that even if the seven great men discussed within its pages were not in chronological order, I probably still would have started with George Washington. When it comes to true greatness, Washington's tough to beat. But someone's greatness can sometimes lend him an aura of such outsized fame that we begin to think of him not as a real person but as a cartoon superhero or as a legend. That's often the case with Washington.

As you know, he has a state named after him. (Do I need to say which?) And he has our nation's capital city named after him; he has a soaring obelisk monument in that city; his birthday is a national holiday; and he has a huge bridge named after him right here in my hometown of New York City. And if all these things aren't impressive enough, his face is on the dollar bill! (Perhaps you already knew that.) So who really thinks of him as an actual flesh-and-blood human being who struggled as we all struggle and who put on his breeches one leg at a time? That's the problem with being that famous. People often don't really think about you as a person at all.

If you do think of him, you probably think of George Washington as that old guy with the somewhat sour expression on the aforementioned dollar bill. In that overfamiliar picture, sporting heavily powdered hair and a lace-trimmed shirt, he looks almost as much like an old woman as an old man.

But what I've discovered is that this famous portrait has given many of us an outrageously false picture of who Washington actually was. It presents him as an elderly man with chronic denture discomfort, who looks none too happy for it. But the reality is completely different.

What if I told you that in his day, George Washington was considered about the manliest man most people had ever seen? No kidding. Virtually everyone who knew him or saw him seemed to say so. He was tall and powerful. He was also both fearless and graceful. On the field of battle, he had several horses shot out from under him; on the dance floor, he was a much sought-after partner.

There's so much to say about Washington that it's hard to know where to begin. For one thing, he was a man of tremendous contradictions. For example, the man who became known as the father of our country never fathered children himself. And he lost his own father when he was a young boy. The man who was viewed as deeply honorable actually told some real whoppers when he was a young man, despite Parson Weems's fictitious episode by the cherry tree: "I cannot tell a lie." More than anyone else, he is responsible for freeing American colonists from the greatest military power on earth—the British Empire—and yet he held some three hundred black men, women, and children in bondage at Mount Vernon.

But here's the biggest contradiction: Washington was an extremely ambitious young man who worked hard to achieve fame, glory, land, and riches—yet at a pivotal moment in American history, he did something so selfless that it's difficult to fully fathom. It's principally because of this one thing that he's included in this book.

So what did he do? In a nutshell, he voluntarily gave up incredible power. When you know the details of his sacrifice, it's hard to believe that he did what he did of his own free will. And yet he did it. The temptation not to surrender all that power must have been extraordinary. There were many good reasons not to surrender it, but history records that he somehow did. Somehow he made an impossibly grand sacrifice—and in doing so he dramatically changed the history of the world. Had Washington not been willing to do it, America as we know it almost certainly would not exist. That's not hyperbole.

This is why contemporary memorials to Washington describe him as an American Moses, as someone loaned to Americans from God. He was the right man for his time—arguably the only man who could have successfully birthed the American Experiment. If you wonder whether one person's actions can matter, and if you wonder whether character matters, you needn't look any further than the story of George Washington. So here it is.

* * *

George Washington was born on February 22, 1732, in what is now Westmoreland County, Virginia, the first son of Mary Ball Washington and tobacco farmer Augustine Washington. George had two older half-brothers, Augustine and Lawrence, and one half sister, Jane, who were children from his father's first marriage. George also had five full younger siblings: Samuel, Elizabeth, John, Charles, and Mildred.

Augustine and Lawrence were sent to England for their educations, but George's father died when George was just eleven, making an English education for him financially impossible. He would regret this deficit in his education throughout his long life. George's brother Lawrence, who was fourteen years older, became a father figure to him, someone whose advice the young George would listen to. In 1751, Lawrence took nineteen-year-old George to Barbados, where Lawrence hoped to be cured of tuberculosis. Alas, George contracted smallpox on this trip. Although the disease was dangerous, it actually turned out to be a hugely fortunate occurrence; George was then inoculated from the disease at an early age, thereby preventing him from future attacks of it when he was a general. During the Revolutionary War, large numbers of soldiers died of disease rather than enemy attacks.

As a boy growing into manhood, George frequently visited Lawrence's home on the Potomac River, which was named Mount Vernon. He also frequently visited Belvoir, owned by Lawrence's in-laws. As one biographer put it, at Mount Vernon and Belvoir, "George discovered a world that he had never known." In particular, Belvoir "was a grand structure, an architectural showcase gracefully adorned with exquisite molding and rich paneling and decorated tastefully with furniture and accessories from England." George "was stirred by the people" in these homes, "people of influence," adults "who were well-read and thoughtful, men who were accustomed to wielding power."

Young George determined to turn himself into one of them—especially someone like Lawrence, who was not only a distinguished war hero but also adjutant general of Virginia, a member of the Virginia legislature, the House of Burgesses, and by marriage, a member of the socially prominent Fairfax family. George threw himself into learning proper etiquette, reading serious books, dressing properly, and improving his character. He also eventually shot up to be roughly six-foot-three, this making him much taller than most of his contemporaries and giving him the heroic, statuesque appearance of a born commander.

Given his future career, it's certainly ironic that George's mother fought his efforts, at age fourteen, to become a commissioned officer in the Royal Navy. She thought such a life would be too harsh for her son, so George decided to learn to become a surveyor. He was fiercely intent on acquiring property and wealth, and a surveying career could lead to quick riches in land and money. By the time he turned twenty, George owned some twenty-five hundred acres of Virginia's frontier land.

But that same year—1752—tragedy struck. George's beloved brother Lawrence lost his battle with tuberculosis. Lawrence's wife and daughter also died within a few years. This meant that George would ultimately inherit Mount Vernon—an estate he would ambitiously enlarge and improve during the next four decades.

When he was twenty-one, George once again turned his attention toward the possibility of a military career. Through the interve

Excerpted from SEVEN MEN by ERIC METAXAS. Copyright © 2013 by Eric Metaxas. Excerpted by permission of Thomas Nelson.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.


Meet the Author

Eric Metaxas is the author of the New York Times bestseller Amazing Grace, Everything You Always Wanted to Know About God (But Were Afraid to Ask), Everything Else You Always Wanted to Know About God, and thirty children’s books. He is founder and host of Socrates in the City in New York City, where he lives with his wife and daughter. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, the Atlantic, Washington Post, Books & Culture, Christianity Today, Marks Hill Review, and First Things. He has written for VeggieTales and Rabbit Ears Productions, earning three Grammy nominations for Best Children’s Recording.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Post to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews

Seven Men: And the Secret of Their Greatness 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 16 reviews.
Dolphins72 More than 1 year ago
This book is about seven men—George Washington, William Wilberforce, Eric Liddell, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II and Charles Colson—who lived lives well worth emulating.  The author makes it clear that his goal in writing such a book is to provide role models for those in today’s world who emulate no one.   Metaxas shows us how Washington determinedly refused personal power for the sake of the country; Wilberforce persisted in work that changed the world through social reform; Liddell chose principle above fame; Bonhoeffer sacrificed his life to save victims of the Nazi regime; Jackie Robinson pioneered breaking through racial barriers at great personal cost; Pope John Paul II set an example of compassion, intelligence, and humility; and Colson faithfully used his deserved incarceration to give birth to a new work:  prison ministry.  This book was very interesting, as Metaxas writes in an appealing and compelling way.  It inspires the reader to want to be deliberate about choosing character and principle as life compass points.   I would recommend this book to others, as it describes lives well worth emulating.  It was an interesting, enlightening read. I received this book for free in exchange for my unbiased review through the Thomas Nelson BookSneeze Program.
JudyinWashington More than 1 year ago
Eric Metaxas does an excellent job of hitting the highlights of the lives of these 7 men and what helped them to succeed in difficult circumstances. He brings out little known facts about each man. This is an easy read written as if the author is sitting down with you having a conversation.
Heather_Wietz More than 1 year ago
A fine book about what it takes to be a great man in today's age
richardblake More than 1 year ago
Heroic Word Portraits of Seven Notable Men – Men of Courage, Sacrifice, and True Greatness “7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness” features short biographical sketches which highlight the lives of seven men who have demonstrated strength in their commitment to a cause, personal conviction, courage in crisis, and bravery in the face of battle. Metaxas has created inspiring positive role models represented by men in government, sports, and church leadership. These men have made significant contributions to social reform, breaking down racial barriers, and religious bias. Eric Metaxas writes with a passion which inspires his reader to pursue excellence, motivate patriotism, and in making right choices.  This may not be the book for real history buffs, however it is suited perfectly for reading together as a part of your family night, included in home school reading assignments, and as a part of every church and Christian school library.  “7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness” is widely endorsed by recognized leaders, is highly readable, and deeply moving. I am recommending it to my family and friends. Disclosure of Material Connection: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."
EKC More than 1 year ago
Just started the book but so far, it's excellent. It's very interesting and very readable. Metaxas is a wonderful writer. His book on Bonhoeffer was one you couldn't put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very inspiring. Highly recommend. Every man should read about these men.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
You will enjoy this book. It is a quick way to learn about 7 great men in history and their spiritual contribution to this world.
JimFKS More than 1 year ago
I thoroughly enjoyed each man's mini-biography and look forward to reading more about each of them. I have already read Eric's biography on Dietrich Bonhoeffer and was moved deeply by Pastor Bonhoeffer's commitment to his faith. I would love to read more about Chuck Colson and Pope John Paul II, since I saw the world evolve while their were ministering. Very readable and very well executed, a high recommendation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
book4children More than 1 year ago
While 7 Men and the Secret of Their Greatness wasn't quite what I was hoping for, it was an interesting read. I hadn't heard of many of these men before (please don't judge me) so I got to know some interesting figures from history that I wouldn't have learned about otherwise. I also liked how the author focused on the good influence these men had on the world and the way they stuck to their guns and didn't back down when faced with pressure. This is a collection of impressive men that relied on God to see them through the challenges they faced and were able to accomplish amazing things because of it. Since I knew little to nothing about most of these men before reading this book, I would have liked more information about them than what was included. Most of these men had very eventful and interesting lives and it was difficult to get a sense of that with a 30 page mini-biography. However, if there had been as much information as I'd wanted, the book would be a monstrosity. If nothing else, Eric Metaxas has piqued my interest in some of history's men and I'd like to learn more about them, especially William Wilberforce. Content: Some violence and prejudice, but I consider this a clean book Source: I received a copy of this book from BookLook Bloggers in exchange for an honest review.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is a fantastic buy. It is made up of biographies of seven different men. These biographies aren't copies of existing biographies. In almost all of them, areas of the men's personalities and values that help you understand them better in a more personal way are brought out. I had read biographies of most of the seven men before, but these biographies are fresh and informative.
Shenandoah-Valley-Marine More than 1 year ago
This is an interesting book, long on aspiration, short on driving home its thesis about the meaning of manhood. Except for that emphasis, it reminds me of Alistair Cooke's 1977 book, 'Six Men' (which featured Humphrey Bogart, Charlie Chaplin, Edward VIII, H.L. Mencken, Bertrand Russell, and Adlai Stevenson). Mr. Cooke was a man of the Left, and his choices, except for Mencken, leaned that way. I suspect the 'Sage of Baltimore was there because, for sheer writing punch and panache, he is the champ. Unlike Metaxas, Cooke did not admire each of his six subjects. For Edward VIII, he gave a searing send-off: "The most damning thing you can say about Edward--as a prince, as a king, as a man--is one that all comfortable people should cower from deserving: he was at his best only when the going was good." Cooke describes the six thusly: ". . .they all seem to me to be deeply conservative men who, for various psychological reasons, yearned to be recognized as hellions or brave progressives. Perhaps that is their real link to this writer." Indeed. I hear Mencken roaring from the grave, convulsed in laughter at being labeled a 'brave progressive.' Metaxas comes from a different perspective. '7 Men' comprises minibiographies of George Washington, William Wilburforce (the 18th-19th century English abolitionist, about whom Mr. Metaxas wrote a well-received biography), Eric Liddell (one of the runners featured in the 1981 Oscar-winning film, 'Chariots of Fire'), Dietrich Bonhoeffer (German theologian and spy executed in 1945 for his part in the plot to kill Hitler - Mr. Metaxas also wrote his biography, which received glowing reviews), Jackie Robinson, Pope John Paul II, and Charles Colson, the Nixon hatchet-man-turned-Christian supplicant to imprisoned criminals. Instead of preaching about what it means to be a man, Metaxas lets the meaning emanate from the stories he tells. Those familiar with his philosophy won't be surprised to hear that all were serious Christians. The book is an interesting collection, unevenly written. One wonders if its author wanted some scale economies from his earlier efforts with the inclusion of Bonhoeffer and Wilburforce. Colson is an offbeat choice, included perhaps to show that redemption is real. With Dodger owner Branch Rickey's unshakable support, Jackie Robinson survived the slings and slurs of racism in major league baseball to become one of its premier players in the mid-twentieth century; I heard him speak during the 1968 political campaign (he was for Nixon), and he remained livid about his treatment two decades earlier. Of course, Washington was the most remarkable of men. But I found the portrait of Liddell most compelling, especially in the way he chose to die at such an early age (he was barely 43). My loud complaint about this book is the inclusion of Pope John Paul II. As I write this, we are but four days from his hurry-up canonization. I stipulate that he was one of the three singular forces who took down the Soviet Union--Ronald Reagan and Maggie Thatcher were the two titans in that triumvirate. But stories have emerged about JPII's role in covering up the widespread pedophilia by Catholic priests. In particular, I wish that Metaxas had explored JPII's cover-up of the allegations by nine priests against Fr. Marcial Maciel Degollado. I believe that Pope Francis, whom I greatly admire, will rue the day that he allowed John Paul II to be sainted in a veritable