Elisabeth Elliot, as one who is to many the model that Amy Carmichael was to her, was the perfect one to write this story. She writes about Amy with obvious respect, but also seeks to bust the myth that she was perfect, striving instead to show her high standards as something that could be attained. The depth of Elliot's own Christian experience comes through in the telling, even though there is no personal account, other than what is in the preface. Her research was thorough, including reading Carmichael's own published writings as well as personal papers, in addition to interviews with those who worked with Amy, and at least one visit to India.
"Books not only about military heroes, but about mountaineers, explorers, and great educators strengthened Amy Carmichael's determination always to aim high in the training of the children committed to her care" (p. 251). Reading this book definitely strengthened my determination to seek areas in my life where a more sacrificial love is called for. I also enjoy biographies as a means to experience things vicariously which I will never experience in this life. Learning more about the personal histories of those who shaped history is another reason why I find this genre interesting. Elisabeth Elliot expounds about why she wrote this biography, and I speculate that she is also sharing why she herself reads (p.16):
In spite of much that militates against quietness there are people who still read books. They are the people who keep me going. I write especially for those who bring to their reading a mind not hidebound by the sensibilities of our time, but prepared to contemplate the Eternally Relevant; to seek in this book specifically the truth and the hidden meaning of a single life.
We read biographies to get out of ourselves and into another's skin, to understand the convulsive drama that shapes, motivates, and issues from that other life.
Title: A Chance to Die
Author: Elisabeth Elliot
Published in: 2005 (but first issued in 1987)
Book Source: Given to me by a friend
Recommended to: Biography readers, those interested in India, missions-work, or learning more about the process and practice of sacrificial love
Check out my other reading recommendations in my astore.
This review is linked to Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books.