Compassionate, witty, politically astute, and spiritually authentic, Neal Maxwell has always been passionately “engaged” in life's battles.
This instinct for action impelled him into the infantry in World War II where, on Okinawa, “shaking and crying in a foxhole full of mud and foul water, he pledged his life to the Lord” and was miraculously spared.
An Apostle since 1981, Elder Maxwell has engaged a broader
struggle, that “between the sacred and the secular, the tension between faith and reason, and finally his greatest cause — his spiritual ministry.” His eloquent defense of Christianity and his brilliant reconciliation of faith and intellect are a rich legacy. But beyond that, he has shown that with the Savior's help, ordinary people “can be better, less competitive, more loving,” and receive the soul-transforming gift of charity.
In this inspiring, sometimes humorous, and moving biography, Elder Bruce C. Hafen has painted an intimate portrait of a beloved
Apostle, capturing the warm, personal stories that reveal the heart and mind of a true disciple of Christ.
I read this book in its entirety shortly after it was published, and the spirit of the book and its subject is highly worthwhile. I have absolutely no objections to it on those grounds.
However, upon reading the book again, I noticed a minor factual error in the first chapter, which had an account of him speaking in the April 1997 conference. The writer quotes someone named “Stack” from an essay or address (I don’t know which, I can’t find the original source anywhere), who said that Elder Maxwell’s “courage and countenance reduced the next speaker, Apostle Robert Hales, to tears.” However, the next speaker after Elder Maxwell in that conference was Patricia Pinegar, not Elder Hales, who didn’t speak until the Sunday Afternoon session, the next day. Clearly an error in recollection on the part of the source. And the next quote on that same page is actually a quote attributed to an unnamed BYU staff member, recalled by a BYU colleague in a conversation. Twice removed from the original source. This is just on the second page... it makes one wonder what other niggling factual errors could be lurking elsewhere in the book.
However, to give Elder Hafen the benefit of the doubt, he does say in the preface that he was under immense time pressure to complete this biography in light of Elder Maxwell’s then uncertain lifespan, and wished that he had been given more time to be more thorough. He also said he tried to avoid being hagiographic, at the Maxwells’ request, but still managed to produce a mostly sanitized biography of his life. I get it, they were personal friends, and Elder Hafen was a self-confessed admirer of Elder Maxwell’s, and it’s hard to truly be objective about one’s heroes.
The takeaway - yes, it’s an imperfect book on an imperfect subject (who never made any pretense about being perfect), but the earnestness of Elder Maxwell’s discipleship comes through vividly, and any unprejudiced reader can learn a great deal from the life of this singular, humble, and eloquent man.
Great book! It was personal and didn't put Elder Maxwell as some perfect. I was inspired by this book. Elder Hafen did a great job.
This is my favorite biography written of latter-day prophets. This book presents a very human perspective of Elder Maxwell: his struggles, his progress, and his discipled life. This biography is so much more than a series of positive facts. It portrayed Neal A. Maxwell as someone far from perfect, yet determined to overcome his weaknesses. Loved this book. Very inspiring.
This book is like many others written about general authorities, just a series of positive facts. In order for a biography to be engaging and memorable there has to be a human element to it. There has to be an emotional component, spiritual developments, mistakes and consequences basically a complete life. For someone to write a biography and focus solely on the “good” parts of a person’s life minus the emotion makes the book linear and uninteresting. To be fair I only read the first half as I lost interest after that.
The photo was compelling. The book is a keeper! What an amazing man!
I've read several biographies: Kimball, McConkie, Hinkley, and President Lee. This was my favorite of them all. Kimball, Hinkley, and Lee were not well written (imho), but McConkie and Maxwell were. The difference between this and McConkie is that with this you get the feeling that this man was not born to be an apostle (like you get with McConkie). Instead, you get the feel that this man overcame his impatience and arrogance to become a man of God. I find this much more inspiring, because I can relate to his impatience and arrogance. Great read!
A book about Elder Neal A. Maxwell, how can it be anything but great? Elder Hafen has done an excellent job on documenting the life of this wonderful Apostle of God. I love to hear Elder Maxwell speak with his flavorful vocabulary and insightful message. He is a humble servant and the book is a must have for any one wanting to learn more about this great man and how he has truly lived his life close to Heavenly Father. The book shows his strength admidst his trials. He speaks with wisdom from his own life. Thank you Elder Hafen and Elder Maxwell!