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Ben Hur

Ben Hur

Written by Lew Wallace

Narrated by Jeff Harding


Ben Hur

Written by Lew Wallace

Narrated by Jeff Harding

ratings:
3.5/5 (28 ratings)
Length:
2 hours
Released:
Mar 1, 2006
ISBN:
9789629545789
Format:
Audiobook

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Also available as bookBook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook

Description

Ben Hur could be said to be the first blockbuster. When it was published in 1880, it sold over two million copies and was translated into numerous languages. It combines all the best elements of popular classic, epic and action story against a background of authoritative historical detail. The pace and immediacy of Ben Hur was the basis of its appeal to film-makers – Charlton Heston’s portrayal of the title role is one of the classics of the cinema. Wallace’s original novel has been largely forgotten now, but as this vivid reading shows, the story – together with the sweeping rhythm of the writer’s prose – make it ideally suited to the audiobook.
Released:
Mar 1, 2006
ISBN:
9789629545789
Format:
Audiobook

Also available as...

Also available as bookBook


About the author

Lew Wallace was an American lawyer, soldier, politician and author. During active duty as a second lieutenant in the Mexican-American War, Wallace met Abraham Lincoln, who would later inspire him to join the Republican Party and fight for the Union in the American Civil War. Following the end of the war, Wallace retired from the army and began writing, completing his most famous work, Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ while serving as the governor of New Mexico Territory. Ben-Hur would go on to become the best-selling American novel of the nineteenth century, and is noted as one of the most influential Christian books ever written. Although Ben-Hur is his most famous work, Wallace published continuously throughout his lifetime. Other notable titles include, The Boyhood of Christ, The Prince of India, several biographies and his own autobiography. Wallace died in 1909 at the age of 77, after a lifetime of service in the American army and government.

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What people think about Ben Hur

3.6
28 ratings / 27 Reviews
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Reader reviews

  • (3/5)
    I read this long book long ago.
  • (3/5)
    I can't recall another novel I've read that seesawed between sublime and sheer awfulness like this one. There were some wonderfully written moments, and then mere sentences later we'd get a description of a handshake that's, like, paragraphs long. The dialogue was the same way--some really subtle stuff, then a mallet to the head.

    It's a great premise that's not handled that well. As a person of faith, I also found the handling of Christ reallllllly obnoxious, like a stoic model who also kind of looked like a figure from a Margaret Keane painting.

    This is one of those cases where the '50s film version is vastly superior to the source material. Watch that instead.
  • (4/5)
    When I was in primary school I read almost a book a day from the school library. Ben Hur was on the shelf, but I never selected it to take home to read. Now 40+ years later I have finally read it; I've never watched the film versions.The book was written well over 100 years ago; the style of writing is certainly not modern. Even some of the spelling is strange e.g. earht (or was that a typographical error that was repeated?) However, it's fun to read. It's the story of a young Jewish boy, who by accident, earns himself a place on a Roman galley. There are two themes - one being the boys hatred for the Romans, especially his former friend; secondly, the events around the birth and crucifixion of Jesus. The author was apparently not a Christian, and it shows. Or perhaps he was realistic - Christians often do not forgive others as they should; revenge is in play almost through to the last pages of the book, and even then the conflict between the two protagonists is not really resolved.
  • (4/5)
    This is a very interesting novel. Here are some items I will look for if I watch the movie again, or items that are in contrast to the film: Is Balthasar's daughter a vamp for Messala, and a real threat to BH? Messala does not die from the race, but attempts to have BH killed right afterwards. Messala has benefited from the Hur family wealth. BH has trained in military arts while in Rome. Ilderim and Simonides are good friends. From the race onward, BH focuses on being ready to help the expectant King if he should need military help. The last portion of the book revolves around Christ's ministry, which is in the background. Christ heals mother and daughter on Palm Sunday while traveling into Jerusalem, and BH is the follower who runs naked from Gethsemane. BH has observed many of Christ's miracles. A question that abides through much of the last half is whether His kingdom will be political (Simonides) or spiritual (Ilderim). BH triggers Messala's crash, as his yoke contacts a wheel of Messala. Mother and daughter are secretly imprisoned in a secluded cell which is laced with leprosy. BH is about the same age as Christ. There are several years between the race and the Crucifixion. Simonides and Ilderim place very heavy bets to bust Messala.
  • (3/5)
    I have loved the movie, Ben- Hur since I first saw it in a re-release in 1968. It has taken me 48 years to read the book.I was surprised that the 1959 movie, which I love, was so boring in book form. The first 16 chapters were the first 10 minutes of the 1959 movie. The author, General Lew Wallace, wanted to make sure the reader knew the historical background of the 3 wise men and their cultural and religious histories. The person who wrote the 1959 screenplay, Karl Tunberg with contributions from 4 others, is a masterpiece considering the tsunami of words a person had to wade through in order to focus on the important ideas. The movie screenplay hit the important points and left out characters and side plots that distracted from the main theme. There are many differences between the book and the movie. First, it was Judah that knocked the tile off the roof, injuring the governor, not Tirza; the slaves in the Hur home were imprisoned but in the movie, released; Judah's faithful steward, did not know or recognize him in the book when he returned. Judah had a different love interest throughout most of the book but in the movie, it was only Esther. Most importantly , Masalla did not die in the book but only became a paraplegic. Judah's mother and sister were not healed of leprosy when Jesus died, as in the movie, but were healed when they approached him on roadside. (far less dramatic). In the movie, Judah sees Quintus Arias fall over board and saves him. In the book, he simply escapes and finds Quintus Arias floating and drags him aboard his little raft. Many more smaller changes, for the better, were made in the screenplay, making the movie more concise and move at a much faster pace. You would have to be a real lover of reading to get through this book in my opinion .
  • (4/5)
    Really good read!
  • (5/5)
    I enjoyed this story of redemption
    very much! Good narration!
  • (3/5)
    Ben-Hur is a prince of Judah in the days of ancient Rome, specifically around the same time that Jesus Christ is born. A terrible mistakes strips everything of value from Ben Hur -- including his family, his home, his wealth, and his freedom -- and he vows vengeance on those who took it all from him.From the outset, I am going to note that I read this book solely because it is on the 1,001 Books to Read Before You Die list and its accompanying movie is on AFI's 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time list. I did not really have that much interest in the subject matter, but I hoped for the best.My first observation of this book is that it is looooong. The audiobook I listened to was 24 hours in length. It took 3 hours before the character of Ben-Hur was even introduced. Most of the beginning part was Wallace's version of the nativity story, which is told in the Bible with just a few paragraphs. If he wanted to do an expanded look at that story, that's fine. It just didn't need to be in a book that already had 21 more hours of content. That's just my opinion.In fact, this book seems to be more about its subtitle "A Tale of the Christ" than it is about its title "Ben-Hur." Ben-Hur's story is essentially pretty short when it comes down to it, while Wallace fills out the pages by describing all the physical scenes in minutiae, as if the reader really needs to know about the color of the curtains are in every room Ben-Hur ever steps foot in throughout his life. In terms of characterization, there is really no one here who is well-rounded or grows in any way. Everyone is exactly what you predict they will be from the first moment they are introduced.There were times here and there where the plot could be interesting or where Wallace showed some fine writing skills. But there was also just so much that seemed extraneous. If you really enjoy historical fiction and/or religious fiction (specifically Christian fiction), then you might enjoy this book more than I did.
  • (2/5)
    Yes, I know, it's one of the 1001 Books to Read Before You Die. And yes, it's all about revenge and redemption. But oh my goodness how tedious is this? Dull, overly verbose, what good story there may be lost in unnecessary words. I have no idea how much time I invested in reading this book. However much it was, it was about 75% too much!
  • (2/5)
    While the story itself is interesting, the writing felt a little forced and stilted. The style was simply not there and the writing felt a little archaic due to this. I felt a little cheated out of my expectations for this one and I would suggest that those interested in the tale might read a modern, or different, version of this story rather than resorting to this particular novel. Overall, a disappointing experience. 2 stars.
  • (2/5)
    Unbelievably abridged! Not even a tenth of the original book.
  • (4/5)
    This was the third 'library book' I read when I obtained access to the high school library as a freshman in the fall of 1942. It was a memorable book, though I suppose my memory has been enhanced by the movie. Wallace, I beleve, wrote it when he was an Army general stationed at a quiet Army post in New Mexico.
  • (2/5)
    FINALLY! This is one of those books that I thought would never end. It would go from super exciting to boring as all get out and it took me until the chariot race to even really get into it. It's cool that it was written by a Hoosier and was the first piece of fiction to be blessed by the pope, BUT... that's about it. It was written very prettily, I suppose but it won't be one I ever re-read or recommend to people. Unless they love historical, religious reads. Kinda wish I had just watched the movie.
  • (5/5)
    The ultimate youth book. An extremely educating saga, a formidable revenge story, interspersed with important episodes in the life of Christ. I do not agree that Quo Vadis is more moving. They are equally great touching stories in their own special way. This one is a bit more entertaining and fast-paced. And, of course, the Hollywood classic starring Charlton Heston is just one of the best movies of all time.
  • (3/5)
    I thought I never say that, but the movie was better. Too much religion and Ben Hur was the hero in everything. Really reads like a script to an action movie.
  • (3/5)
    Virtually anyone reading this book will have seen the movie, which is very faithful to the 19th century novel, penned by a former Union Civil War General named Lew Wallace. Wallace was “disgraced” at the Battle of Shiloh, but went on to serve capably and courageously. Following the war, Wallace pursued a successful political career before penning this work, which is acknowledged as the best selling religiously themed novel in history.Judah Ben-Hur is born to wealth and privilege as the son of a Jewish merchant in Jerusalem. His stunning fall and subsequent “resurrection” has been likened to that of the author, as has his religious awakening, as Ben-Hur’s path crosses and recrosses that of Jesus of Nazareth.Written in the late 19th century, much of the dialogue is in the form spoken during the time of Christ (i.e. sayest thou), but is easily understandable and at times quite beautiful. Nevertheless, there are periods in the story (most notably during Ben-Hur’s sojourn in Antioch) that are mind-numbingly boring as the author spends scores of pages in philosophical contemplation and florid description of the people and places that make up the story.My suggestion: Watch the movie. If you have already done so, I can’t say that reading the book will benefit your appreciation of the story.
  • (5/5)
    Needless to say that the book is much better than the movie, and when it comes to Ben Hur, that is definitely saying something. While the famous scenes in the movie are replicated from the book (that being the chariot race and the sea battle), there is much more to the book than there is to the movie (though the theme is the same in both). The book is actually called Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. It may seem that Christ is only a bit part in the book (and in the movie) but his presence in the world of Ben Hur dominates.Much of Ben Hur is about who the Christ is and what his purpose is in the world, and there is a lot of discussion about this. We have Bathasar, an Egyptian and one of the wise men who visited Christ at birth. He is seeking a redeemer, somebody to restore the relationship between humanity and their creator. Then there is Ben Hur, a Jew who believes that the Messiah is a king who shall come and liberate them from the Romans (and he even has three legions ready to be called when the king comes on his own). To us this side of the cross, Balthasar is correct in identifying Christ as a redeemer, and it is that realisation in Ben Hur that forms the centerpiece of the book (and this is something that isn't teased out in the movie, though the scene where Ben Hur sits at the foot of the cross and looks up to Christ still sits in my mind as one of the greatest scenes in film history).However the first part of the book (like the movie) is about how Ben Hur comes through his own redemption. At the beginning he meets Masarla, a childhood friend who travelled to Rome for an education, and it is when they meet as adults that they discover that they can no longer be friends. Masarla believes that the Jews are a backward people clinging to their outdated traditions (much like how the world views Christians today) while Ben Hur is convinced by his mother that these outdated traditions are not outdated, but eternal, and demonstrates that Masarla is incorrect when he accuses the Jews of not having a culture (and identifies the psalms and the prophets as examples of their literary ability – indeed today the book of Isaiah is considered a literary masterpiece).Ben Hur travels to hell in the form of being a slave on a galley, but he is released shortly before the battle, and it is this act of a gracious tribune that redeems him in the eyes of Rome. From then on, while clinging to his Jewish heritage, he is reborn as a Roman and is able to pass through the Roman world as a Roman. However, it is his heritage that defines him, and Ben Hur is faithful to that heritage.While in the film the focus is on Ben Hur's search for his mother and sister, and then his quest to see them healed of their leprosy, this is a mere sub-plot in the book. The quest is for the Christ and the redemption of Israel, however at its conclusion, it is not a physical redemption from Rome that is achieved, but a spiritual redemption with God.
  • (5/5)
    This was the first book of historical fiction I ever read. It was also the first Christian fiction I read. I can attribute my fascination to ancient history, particularly Roman, to this great story. I also can't remember if I read the book or saw the movie first - although I've read and watched both multiple times over the years.

    Judah Ben-Hur is the son of a wealthy merchant who is also friends with Messala, a Roman soldier/politician in occupied Jerusalem. Messala returns to Jerusalem as it's new tribune and there is a bittersweet reunion between the two. During the parade, a loose roof tile falls from the Hur household, striking the tribune and injuring him. The house of Hur is arrested, the women thrust into a dungeon cell and forgotten, and Judah sold into slavery, chained to an oar on a Roman Naval galley.

    Dark dreams of revenge keep Judah alive in what most often is a short brutal existence on a Roman galley. During a naval battle, which the Romans lose, Judah saves the galley's Roman commanding officer, prevents the Roman from committing suicide, and eventually returns him safely to the Roman Navy. In return, this Roman officer frees Judah and adopts him as his son.

    Now that Judah has the means to pursue his vengeance, he finds Messala and decides to compete against him in the great chariot race. Judah befriends a sheik, the loving owner of four swift and beautiful Arabian horses. Judah trains them for the race. The chariot race culminates in Judah surviving Messala's deadly tricks and eventually running over Messala with his chariot. But hsi revenge turns frigid as Messala's dying words tell Judah that his mother and sister are still alive but lepers from their long confinement in the dungeons.

    Judah finds his mother and sister, who lead him to a great teacher. Jesus was in the background of this story throughout Judah's travails. Jesus even slaked Judah's thirst during his trek across the desert with the rest of the galley slaves. Where Judah searched with revenge in his heart, others would speak of the Rabbi who taught of love, forgiveness and peace.

    As Judah moved his family away from the leper colony, they were caught in the storms and earthquakes which occurred during the crucifixion of Jesus. His mother and sister were miraculously healed of their leprosy by the blood of Jesus washed from Golgotha by the rain. Finally, Judah comes to terms with the hollowness and futility of his vengeful hate. He forgives his enemies and receives forgiveness and peace himself.

    It's no wonder, to me at least, that this story inspired many attempts to theatrically recreate it on stage, as a silent film and finally as one of the greatest motion pictures ever filmed.

  • (4/5)
    Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ tells the fictional story of the first-century Jew Judah Ben-Hur, who as a young man is betrayed by his best friend, Messala. This betrayal changes Ben-Hur forever, as he finds himself rising from a slave aboard a ship to one of the most rich and powerful men in the Roman Empire, to the commander of a volunteer army, and finally to the status of worshiper at the foot of the Cross on Golgotha. Author Lew Wallace paints an interesting picture of how God might have chosen to work in one man for the glory of His kingdom.There is much commendable in Ben-Hur. Wallace took his Christian faith seriously, and as a result spent much time studying the geography, politics and general way of life of first-century Rome and Jerusalem making his novel as historically accurate as he could. Wallace also did an exceptional job writing about the eyewitness accounts of the Christ. As people far removed from the events of the New Testament, it is easy to nonchalantly affirm that Jesus really did the things contained therein. But imagine the excitement that would emanate from inside of you if you watched a man heal your own family from leprosy, or raise a man from the dead! Lewis captured this sense of excitement and awe that must have been present for those who really saw such events. Moving on, the plot of the book is well-written, with a compelling main story and interconnected subplots, each of which keeping one's interest. Many of the characters were relatable, too; I kept wondering in between reading sessions what was the fate of Ben-Hur's mother and sister.If I had to present a criticism of this book, it would be as follows: First, while there was at least one plot twist I didn't see coming, for the most part it wasn't too hard to see where the story was going. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing, but a bit more suspense would have been nice. Second, although I think Wallace presented a portrait of Christ that was "historically accurate" for his day, it's highly unlikely (as in 100%) that Jesus was a feminine-looking, long-haired, blue-eyed white guy. I suppose I can forgive him that, though, as he was writing in the 1890s. My only other complaint was his portrayal of Joseph as someone with the personality of a felled tree. That just came out of nowhere, and it probably hurt the story more than it helped.All in all, this is a good book to read for both the Christian and non-Christian alike. It is a solid story, it is a fun read, and it's good motivation to re-watch the Charlton Heston film, too!
  • (3/5)
    This narrative is tempered with love and compassion, in contrast to moderns such as LaHaye and Jenkins, whose work mostly rejoices in the suffering of the infidel and the mocking of those of differing views. Ben Hur, while convoluted and logorrheic, remains inspiring.
  • (3/5)
    My rating is based on the movie, which I rather like
  • (5/5)
    Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ, is the story of the life of Jesus told within the exciting tale of Judah of the House of Hur. Judah is a Prince of Jerusalem betrayed by his childhood friend Messala, and sent to spend the rest of his life in servitude on a Roman ship. After three years, Judah miraculously saves the life of a rich Roman tribune, and embarks on a journey of vengeance that ends in redemption for himself and his family. I know that's an incredibly loose synopsis of the novel, but I don't want to give any of the good stuff away - in case there is someone out there who hasn't read the book or seen the movie.Although Ben-Hur was published in 1880, I found it astonishingly readable. I wasn't constantly stumbling over the language or wondering when the story was going to "pick up." Ben-Hur is full of detail - nearly everything is described in grand scale. This is not a quick read, but the continual movement toward the climax kept me turning pages. The novel itself is charming and incredibly entertaining. Full of the kind of larger-than-life characters you would expect, Ben-Hur is a wonderful historical novel. After almost 130 years, it remains a powerful and moving novel. It contains some historical information, but is also rich with detail and action packed. With vivid imagery, lavish settings, and affecting characters, Ben-Hur is a must read!
  • (3/5)
    First published in 1880's, the language is a bit flowery. Phrases such as "O Reader" and "Thou wilt not" give the book an archaic feel. The author seems to have borrowed from "The Merchant of Venice" and "Ivanhoe" among other sources. The middle drags somewhat because of too much dialogue. Predictable story to anyone with a passing knowledge of the New Testament. On the positive side, I found Book First to be an excellent account of the events leading up to the arrival of the Magi from the East. If you like Christian literature, this might be a book for you.
  • (4/5)
    Better than the movie.
  • (4/5)
    It was a great movie. How does the book stack up? In some ways, it's better: the stories are richer, there are many secondary stories that the movie could not accommodate. In some ways, it's not as good: the book has a lot of speechifying in it. If you skim those, I'd recommend reading the book after seeing the movie.
  • (4/5)
    A young Jewish man clashes with the Roman Empire. His struggles embitter him until he is able to find the comfort of faith. Lots of action in this book. It has been some time since I read this book, but I remember putting it down at the end with a great deal of satisfaction with the read.
  • (4/5)
    I have to say I did not find this novel as moving as I did Quo Vadis, that other 19th century novel about early Christianity. It rather dragged in places and some of the characters seemed rather flat. It covers a longer period of time than the famous film, as the first 50 pages concern the birth of Christ and in particular the progress of the Magi. As for other comparisons, the "real" Ben Hur sounds nothing like Charlton Heston, not only physically, but also in that here in the novel his desire for vengeance on Messala comes out more strongly as the chief personal drive of his life. Particular moving moments were the immediate aftermath of the accident that led to Ben Hur's arrest and that of his family and the later discovery of the appalling treatment and condition of his mother (unnamed for some reason) and sister Tirzah. In sum, I'm glad I read this novel, but it was a bit of a struggle in parts.