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Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ
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Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ

4.0 of 5 stars 4.00  ·  rating details  ·  18,918 ratings  ·  340 reviews
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An unforgettable account of betrayal, revenge, redemption, Ben-Hur tells the tale of a nobleman who fell from Roman favor and was sentenced to live as a slave--all at the hands of his childhood friend, Messala. Once nearly brothers, any hope of reconciliation is dashed as Ben-hur vows revenge.
Running in parallel with Ben-Hur's narrative is the unfolding story of J
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Hardcover, 560 pages
Published by Harper & Brothers (first published 1880)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Shivering William
The first sign that I should not have read this book was the discrepancy in hours between the abridged and unabridged versions on audible. Unabridged: 21 hours, Abridged: 3 hours. I bought it anyway and soon discovered why. There's about 15% story and 85% fluff in Ben Hur. It is, hands down, the best argument for editing I have ever read.

For example, there was a section in the beginning where two men embraced. That's all we need to know, right? No, no. Of course not. We have to hear that they t
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Mary
The first thing I want to address is the “speed” of this book. I first read this book in the fall or winter of 1971, and at that time, as a high school senior, I was well-accustomed to reading Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Victor Hugo, and all those other authors of the Victorian era (and before!) Back then, I read one Shakespeare play every year for high school English literature (with support from my friends and the teacher!), and had even slogged through the assigned portions of Beowulf. That ...more
Teri
Went to a BYU education week class on finding good books to read. A woman in the class recommended this one. One of her favorites. I look forward to reading it and then watching the movie which Sally has highly recommended.
I loved this story. It was a bit of a challenge in the beginning. There is a lot of detailed description of clothing, customs, etc. Wallace addressed the reader and would try to put you in the location he was describing. It took some patience, but I began to really enjoy it.
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Jon
Joshua
Before reading the book, I had the pleasure of watching the 1959 film. So, whilst reading the book, I found myself constantly comparing it to the film. There are so many differences! The book, like most, have a lot more backstory and character development than in the film.
Two of the characters that stood out to me in difference from the film the most where: Tirzah (Judah Ben Hur's Sister) and Quintus Arrius (Judah's Step-father). To me both book versions where way better than what was portrayed
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Daron
I must admit that I like the movie starring Charlton Heston better than the book, but maybe that's only because I viewed it a dozen times before reading the original story. The book is VERY long, with rich descriptions that are almost purple prose at times. But don't take my mention of the descriptive narrative as a huge downside to the story. If you can be patient with it, the story is actually quite good. As you experience the tale, you should reflect on the time period when Ben Hur was writte ...more
Mary JL
Dec 15, 2013 Mary JL rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Fans of Christian or Historical fiction
Shelves: fiction-classics
Written in 1880, this excellent historical novel still has much to offer the modern reader.

The story is familiar to anyone who who has seen the movie--Ben Hur is sent to the galleys as a slave; he save the Roman commander; the great chariot race and so on.

But, as is usally the case, for me, the book is SO much better. There is a lot in the book that is not shown in the movie. I find the wealth of historical detail fascinating. And a lot of details about the characters enriches the story for me.
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Jim
It's been years since I read this. It was slow going in some places - my problem with writers of the past. Overall, the book was great, but it was a 'read once' for me.
Walter
"Ben Hur" is a novel in the style of the historical epic format that was popular in the late 19th Century. Written by Lew Wallace, a General in the Union Army during the Civil War, the novel is an attempt for Wallace to connect to Christ using the worldview of a soldier. Set in Ancient Rome, it's the story of Judah Ben Hur, a Jewish nobleman who is swept up in the Jewish insurgency that was on the rise in the time of Christ. Ben Hur becomes a slave on a Roman Galley, and during a naval battle he ...more
Lindy
I had to put this on hold while working on my doula certification. Just trying to be realistic. I have enjoyed what I have read, the literary prose are amazing, and look forward to delving in to this book whole heartedly when I get the chance.

Update: 1/14
I love this book! I loved the reality of Christ as a personal Savior contrasting the militant savior that the people were looking for. I love that Christ was exactly what He needed to be for each character at just the right moment. How many time
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David Sarkies
Apr 01, 2014 David Sarkies rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everybody
Recommended to David by: Charlton Heston
Shelves: historical
One man's search for redemption
27 July 2010

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
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Amanda
This is probably one of the worst books I've read in a long time, and it's the only one I can think of whose movie adaptation was actually better. For one thing, it was incredibly long, which would have been fine if it weren't for the fact that there seemed to be entirely too much extraneous information that was written in in order to satisfy the author's devotional mindset. And for another, the book is sorely lacking in the historical accuracy department. I don't mind if there are minor details ...more
Vivian
Who is Ben Hur and why would he be important?

Ben Hur is the flip side of the coin to Jesus Christ -- born to a life of privilege and fame, whereas Jesus was born into abject poverty and anonymity. Hur's story begins with a "threshold moment" where he parts way with his childhood Roman friend by asserting his loyalty to his Jewish faith and people. Shortly thereafter Hur haplessly loosens a roof tile while watching a parade which narrowly misses a Roman celebrity. An accusation of this being an
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Sharon Powers
BEN-HUR: A TALE OF THE CHRIST By Lew Wallace
Book Review by:Sharon Powers.

Ulysses S. Grant sat to read the new novel, Ben Hur: A Tale of the Christ. The words of the book soon caught his imagination and he was unable to escape. He couldn't put the book down, and so, mesmerized, he continued to sit and read. Abandoning all responsibilities and his family, he immersed himself in the pages of Lew Wallace's book. He sat reading. For thirty straight hours, the Great General of the Civil War, leader o
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Thom Swennes
I remember watching the movie as a kid; Charleston Heston playing Ben Hur. I remember a chariot race, leprosy and Christ going to the cross; all in all a good movie but only remembered in highlights. The book has adorned my library for a long time and I’ve always planned to read the book behind the story. I have now done so and must admit that either I slept through much of the movie or it didn’t follow the story written by Lew Wallace very diligently.
The story is divided into eight books. The
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Virtuella
Abandoned. Summary so far: A young Jewish Prince, Judah Ben Hur, accidentally injures a Roman officer in Jerusalem and, as this is seen as an assassination attempt, he is sent to the galleys. Ironically, his former childhood friend Messala, an ambitious Roman, is involved in the arrest. On the way to the galley, Judah encounters the son of a carpenter, who gives him a drink of water. After three years on the galleys (about which we hear next to nothing), Judah rescues Arrius, a powerful Roman, f ...more
Laura
I had really been looking forward to reading this book, but getting through it was a bit of a challenge. Lew Wallace's writing style is about 50% description, and 5o% story. I succumbed to the temptation of skimming.

It has some good ideas and themes, and it is very Victorian in its morality. The characters, however, seem very shallow, not complicated like real people. For some reason, the writing style reminds me of Gene Stratton-Porter

This was a best hit seller when it was published in 1880, bu
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Joe
Jan 05, 2015 Joe marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: dnf
I had no knowledge of this book when I picked it up. I was taken by surprise and delight by the first 60 pages... then I stopped reading, probably due to school, and never got back to it. Three men, a Jew, a Muslim and a Hindu contemplate the origin, the purpose, the intent and the current state of corruption of their respective religions and beliefs as they walk through the desert unbeknownst to each other. They don't know where they are going or why they are going there, but they converge at t ...more
Lea Lea
Wow! They could really write back in the 1800s. There were lengthy descriptions, but the language was rich. If I hadn't been so eager to move on to see what would happen next, I really could have savored more of the deep meaning. A great part was when the book unfolded the meeting of the three wise men. I never pictured it that way before. I also enjoyed the love story between Ben Hur and Esther ( big shocker) She wasn't first choice but she was the best. Finally, the most beautiful theme throug ...more
Chris Overton
I was looking for a classic novel to read, and it occurred to me that I'd not read this one. While it's a little dated stylistically in certain places (the narrator likes to make asides to the audience, for example, which is very 19th Century), it remains very readable and even exciting. It's truly an epic adventure novel and one that holds up quite well.

I would add (as I'm sure at least one other person has) an interesting note about Lew Wallace: he was wrongfully accused of cowardice and inco
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Amanda
"It is finished."

That is, the book, and the life.

But it has only begun.

Definitely a slow, long book with many many details that were painful to wade through. But all in all, it's a fantastic story. Just...don't try to read it any quicker than two or three weeks. Give it time and get through it in 20-40 page chunks. Let it sink in, and you won't regret it.

Despite all my complaints about how long and dull sections of this are, I did enjoy the story as a whole quite a bit. Good job, Mr. Lew Wallac
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Carrie M.
Judah Ben-Hur is a wealthy and handsome Jew who posessed status, riches and good opinion of his people. All is about to change as the Romans take Jerusalem over and he falls from the graces of his forman childhood friend and now Roman Tribune Messalah.
Natasha
Bleh! I couldn't finish. Not because it's very difficult reading, but because so much of it is bombastic, circumlocutory, diffuse, flowery, full of air, fustian, gabby, garrulous, grandiloquent, involved, loquacious, magniloquent, palaverous, periphrastic, pleonastic, prolix, redundant, repeating, repetitious, repetitive, rhetorical, talkative, talky, tautological, tautologous, tedious, tortuous, windy, yacking.

I copied that from the thesaurus because that is exactly how annoying this writing i
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Sara
Without a particular thought to the season in which I chose to read this, I was, by Divine Intervention, scheduled to read this at the end of Lent. The incredible last 50 pages on Palm Sunday weekend. Ben Hur was a beloved childhood movie. I had no idea how much richer and profound the book would be. Beginning with the wisemens' meeting and ending with the persecution of Christians by Nero, this book is a Christ story as well as an incredible fictional adventure and love story. Absolutely incred ...more
Sarah
Ok. Full disclosure. I was forced to read this book back in my sophomore year of high school as one of the only books that everyone in the class had to read and write a book report on. I was excited because I loved the Charlton Heston movie and had watched it probably a 100 times because my parents were very strict about the kinds of movies I could watch and the sword and sandal pics of the 50's and 60's were on the ok to watch list. So I was excited to read the source material for one of my fav ...more
Beth A.
This was a nice story. Nice is what you say when someone is alright, but they’re somewhat bland, they lack any distinctive qualities. Ben Hur was interesting, but I felt no urgency to the plot or connection to the characters. They just didn’t feel real or alive. I knew Ben Hur was angry, that he had been deeply wronged and needed revenge, but I couldn’t feel his passion. I was an impartial, unengaged observer. Which makes the book… nice.
Zany
One of the best books I've ever read. This has to be one of the earliest predecessors to modern fiction where the authors delve into excruciating detail about how things are achieved, or psychological motives behind a character's actions, etc. Irving Stone's "The Agony and the Ecstasy" also comes to mind. The engineering behind the designing of a chariot that races better than all the other chariots helps make this book just perfect. Just. Perfect. For all the impatient, me-generationers who wan ...more
Jojo
"Ben-Hur é um livro que exige paciência para o ler. Não é seguramente uma obra de consumo fácil devido ao seu elevado teor religioso e as suas descrições históricas quase exaustivas: os costumes, o vestuário e as especificidades de cada religião. Tudo é retratado com um detalhe preciso. " Opinião completa em:
http://devaneiosdajojo.blogspot.pt/20...
Simona
Ben Hur is a wonderful novel and if you can get over the large descriptive paragraphs and the little actual storyline placed within a huge historical background, it can easily be a 5 stars. In my mind it’s more like a 4.25 not because of the descriptions slowing down the pace…I actually love descriptions in books, but because maybe I had larger expectations when I started reading it and I was a little bit disappointed because as I said nothing much happens. And also I felt like a 5 star rating w ...more
Liz Websdale
Great adventure story. Survives the Roman Galleys as a slave. Hell bent on revenge. Leper colonies. Chariot races. And Christ. Would make a great movie. Wait, that has already been done many times!
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Lewis "Lew" Wallace was a lawyer, governor, Union general in the American Civil War, American statesman, and author, best remembered for his historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

From Civil War Biography:

Although he would have much preferred to be remembered as a highly successful military hero, Lew Wallace has been thwarted in this ambition and is best known as an author. Born in Indian
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More about Lew Wallace...
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“Riches take wings, comforts vanish, hope withers away,but love stays with us. Love is God.” 31 likes
“The architect had not stopped to bother about columns and porticos, proportions or interiors, or any limitation upon the epic he sought to materialize; he had simply made a servant of Nature - art can go no further.” 19 likes
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