* The first major biography of William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army* Brilliant insights into Victorian Britain from one of our foremost social commentators
An uneducated youth, William Booth left home in 1849 at the age of twenty to preach the gospel for the New Methodist Connexion. Six years later he founded a new religious movement which succeeded to such a degree that the Salvation Army (which it became) is now a worldwide operation with massive membership.
But that is only part of Booth's importance and heritage. In many ways his story is also that of the Victorian poor, as he and his wife Catherine made it their lives' work to battle against the poverty and deprivation which were endemic in the mid- to late 1800s. Indeed, it was Catherine who, although a chronic invalid, inspired the Army's social policy and attitude to female authority. Her campaign against child prostitution resulted in the age of consent being raised and it was Catherine who, dying of cancer, encouraged William to clear the slums -- In Darkest England, The Way Out. Roy Hattersley's masterful dual biography is not just the story of two fascinating lives but a portrait of an integral part of our history.
A great and serious story, splendidly told ... A fine and evocative double biography - NEW STATESMAN
A serious and lively tome ... Hattersley describes both these remarkable people with skill and affection - SUNDAY TELEGRAPH
A splendid book ... BLOOD AND FIRE is packed with good things... Hattersley is a superb guide to both the personalities of the Salvation Army and its social significance. So absorbing in his narrative that one can actually imagine oneself as a late 19th-century salvationist fighting the good fight against a sea of troubles. - SUNDAY TIMES
This sympathetic but revealing biography gives the Booths their place in the pantheon of great Victorians. - THE TIMES
A broad-minded, sympathetic and eminently humorous biography of a pair of earnest prigs whose unselfconscious absurdity has, as Roy Hattersley points out, unfairly obscured their radical and lasting achievement - Hilary Spurling in the Daily Telegraph