Blood and Fire: William and Catherine Booth and Their Salvation Army

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Blood and Fire is a brilliant biography of two great social and religious figures whose inheritance lives on to this day.  William Booth (1829-1912) was one of the most extraordinary men of his age, a pawnbroker's clerk who would found the most successful religious movement of the nineteenth century--the Salvation Army. As a twenty-year-old, he developed the unshakable belief that God had ordained him to convert the world to Christianity.  Convinced that both churches of Victorian England were ignoring the needs of the poor, he founded the East London Christian Mission.  As the mission became the Salvation Army, it recruited thousands of members in battalions around the globe.  Its membership is now in the hundreds of thousands in virtually every country.

Catherine, his wife, was in many ways even more exceptional.  A chronic invalid and mother of eight children (within ten years), she inspired the social policy that was, and remains, an essential part of the Salvation Army's success.  Catherine held ideas on social equality that were ahead of her time, and she encouraged the Army to accept "women's ministry" and give female officers authority over men.  Her campaign against child prostitution resulted in the age of consent being raised from thirteen to sixteen.  And it was Catherine who, even while dying of cancer, urged William to develop his plans for clearing the Victorian slums.  Blood and Fire is a brilliant account of a fascinating period of social history.

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Blood and fire: William and Catherine Booth and their Salvation Army

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Hattersley (Fifty Years On; A Yorkshire Boyhood) writes an account of the Salvation Army that is good history and good reading, a rare and wonderful combination. Though the title suggests a dual ... Read full review


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About the author (2000)

Roy Hattersley is a politician-turned-writer.  He was elected to the British Parliament in 1964, serving in each of Harold Wilson's governments and in Jim Callaghan's cabinet.  In 1983 he became deputy leader of the Labour Party.  He is the author of fourteen books, including Who Goes Home?, Fifty Years On, and A Yorkshire Boyhood.  He has written "Endpiece," his Guardian column, for sixteen years, was the television critic for the Daily Express, and has contributed to other London-based periodicals, including the Daily Mail, The Observer, and The Times.

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