A few weeks ago I perused a list of outstanding books published in 2016 and noticed a new biography of Eric Liddell, the 1924 Olympic gold medalist made famous by the 1981 movie Chariots of Fire. Liddell went on to become a missionary to China and died in a Japanese internment camp in China in 1945. The reviews of the new book For the Glory: Eric Liddell's Journey from Olympic Champion to Modern Martyr by Duncan Hamilton are uniformly positive.
- "A marriage of prose and detail so fine and fastidious that it takes the breath away."
- This book is better than a movie. For the Glory is the best biography I’ve read on its subject, and may be one of the best non-fiction books I’ve ever read.
This is a book now high on my "to read" list. I previously blogged about Eric Liddell here, and the post is worth visiting because it not only talks about Liddell, but also about the book, Shantung Compound, that describes the living condition Liddell and others endured in a Japanese internment camp in China along with hundreds of others during World War II.
In preparing this post, I discovered that a movie was made in Hong Kong on Eric Lidell's life in China called "The Last Race." It opened in July 2016 in 50 Chinese cities. The New York Times wrote about the film:
Co-directed by the veteran Hong Kong filmmaker Stephen Shin and the Canadian Michael Parker, it focuses on the final years of Liddell’s life, when he was held in a Japanese labor camp in the coastal province of Shandong.
With its themes of religion and wartime aggression, however, this unofficial sequel wound up requiring some careful negotiations with the Chinese censors.
One of the questions was how to depict Mr. Liddell’s strong faith without alarming the censors.
“You have to be very careful with how you portray religion,” Mr. Shin said. “The movie can’t be a medium through which to promote certain religious beliefs.”
In the end, he said, the script was approved with only a few changes, and crosses and churches are shown throughout, even as the Chinese authorities are cracking down on the public display of crosses.