Sunday, June 13, 2010

Billy Graham: His Life and Influence

Billy Graham: His Life and Influence, by David Aikman, thoroughly covers the evangelist’s life and influence around the world. From his upbringing in the 1920s through his relationship with and the administrations of the presidents from Eisenhower through G.W. Bush, the book shows Graham’s influence on both our country and the rest of the world. This book is chockfull of history and Aikman delivers it in an easy style of reading.

Graham saw many changes in his lifetime. He was at the center of many of these changes and was even instrumental in them. Although he had a brief and less-than-satisfactory encounter with Truman, he got close to most presidents beginning with Eisenhower. He continued these relationships with each president at varying degrees. Although a Democrat himself, he was particularly close to Johnson, Nixon, Reagan and the Bushes.

Surprisingly, Graham was also able to break the ice around the world. He was able to speak in Russia and China long before any American would have this access. Even when the American government didn’t want him to preach, Graham was able to visit and speak in Eastern countries. Being careful not to say or do anything that would be insulting or dangerous in the culture where he was a guest yet not saying anything that would upset the American government, Graham had a tight rope to walk. He was not only successful but helped warm relationships during the years of the Cold War.

David Aikman doesn’t show Graham’s life and endeavors as all rosy though. He was particularly close to Nixon and was surprised as anyone when Watergate came down, and even more so, when the tapes were later revealed. The book tells of Graham’s struggles with his relationship with Nixon after this and how he came to be spiritually close to Nixon again.

Graham is shown as a man of God but certainly not perfect. He had charisma and a need to be liked by everyone and that sometimes caused mistakes in dealing with other cultures and governments and certainly in reporting back to our government the true situation in other lands. But he was always ready to listen to God and to spread the Gospel far and wide.

Throughout the book we also learn about his family from his parents and siblings to his wife Ruth and their children. Ruth’s influence on Billy also helped direct him in his dealings with our country and others. Ruth was a strong woman and definitely showed it. They had a long and very strong marriage based on love and their beliefs.

Christians will get to know the man and his views by reading this book. Non-Christians will also get a lot out of it, more from the history side of his story. No matter what your religious views are, you will come away with a wealth of historical knowledge after reading this book. An easy-to-read and informative book, I highly recommend David Aikman’s Billy Graham: His Life and Influence.

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