Picks and Pans Review: The Story of America's Most Beloved Song
A song has to be amazing to merit a 223-page book. Fortunately, "Amazing Grace" is not only one of the most-recorded songs but one whose history reads like a bizarre adventure.
The song's author, John Newton, was an 18th-century slave trader who believed prayer saved him from a storm at sea. Writing the Christian hymn in 1772, he became a minister and abolitionist. The song has since been recorded by Judy Collins, Destiny's Child, Bryan Ferry and even Allen Ginsberg. Turner measures different perspectives—one military officer considered the tune great martial music—with a hipster's eye and a parishioner's faith. (Ecco, $23.95)
BOTTOM LINE: Get to know hymn