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Ben Hur

3.99 of 5 stars 3.99  ·  rating details  ·  18,838 ratings  ·  414 reviews
Many of the earliest books, particularly those dating back to the 1900s and before, are now extremely scarce and increasingly expensive. Hesperides Press are republishing these classic works in affordable, high quality, modern editions, using the original text and artwork.
ebook, 584 pages
Published April 1st 2013 by Hesperides Press (first published 1880)
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"Out of that vast tomb Christianity issued to supersede the Caesars."

Ben Hur is one of those classic works better recognised for its many adaptations. To this end it seems fair to compare it to another highly similar work - Les Miserables. Both are classic historical fiction works which use history to spread themes and ideas about humanity as a whole. Both novels also regularly divert from the storytelling to provide detailed insights into history. This is perhaps where Ben Hur is stronger than...more
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...more
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....more
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
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...more
Rachel N
INCREDIBLE! I found this book to be on the same par as Les Miserables. The story begins with the birth of the Christ Child and a detailed depiction of the journey of the Three Wise Men (what could have happened), and ends with the Crucifixion of Jesus. In between these two world changing events is the story of a man (Ben Hur) from a wealthy family who is deeply betrayed by a Roman friend. He ends up in the bowels of a ship as an oarsman – a grueling job. Ben Hur’s life journey is described in gr...more
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....more
One of the best historical novels I ever read. It is definitively a masterpiece of the genre together with Sienkewicz's Quo Vadis. I love it and I can recommend it to everyone that would like to read a decent historical novel.
The only bad thing is about the edition from Adevarul that I had. It had several typos and also some pages where the content is printed slightly to the right or to the left of the page. In the end, you can read it well from the respective edition, but definitively such thin...more
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.
"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
Revenge. It is a strong word with harsh implications. How far will some people go for Revenge? Where will they be satisfied? At death?
Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur is an epic book of an amazing tale of one man's misfortune, revenge, and his search for the family he lost.
When an unfortunate accident sends Judah Ben-Hur to the galleys, the world counts him as dead. Providence, however, was guiding his life. He was not only freed from his chains, but made rich and trained in the Roman ways of war.
Even thou...more
A great book, if you have the patience. Lots of chapters exist just to give historical background, so don't expect something as fast-paced as the movie version; however, some parts of this book are simply amazing. The chariot race is one of the most exciting passages in all of literature (George Lucas' pod race can't even touch it), and the passages about leprosy are some of the most heart-rending. It also does a great job of painting a clear picture of who exactly Jesus was, as well as showing...more
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...more
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...more
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
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...more
Apr 12, 2010 Joseph rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone
Lew Wallace did an excellent job bringing his readers to the first century A.D. I loved reading about all the customs, cultures, and ways of the ancient world. This classic wonderfully weaves a great story with Biblical accounts of Jesus, such as healings and the Crucifixion. I enjoyed this immensely and it is far better than the Hollywood version, which changed major plot lines. Everyone, especially Christians, should read this.
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...more
Lew Wallace's Ben-Hur: A Tale of Christ, is the story of the life of Jesus told within the exciting tale of Judah of the House of Hur. Judah is a Prince of Jerusalem betrayed by his childhood friend Messala, and sent to spend the rest of his life in servitude on a Roman ship. After three years, Judah miraculously saves the life of a rich Roman tribune, and embarks on a journey of vengeance that ends in redemption for himself and his family. I know that's an incredibly loose synopsis of the novel...more
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
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...more
Sep 05, 2013 Joe added it  ·  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
I think Lew Wallace would agree with me that the Charlton Heston movie is better. But still, this is a really great book. It's same story albeit with a broader context than the MGM version: While both chronicle the lives of Ben Hur and Jesus, born at the same time, in close proximity, the novel gives us way more family history (Judah Ben Hur/Jesus Ben Joseph) and comparison of the two lives than the movie. But it's all really interesting stuff. What I found most impressive is that that Wallace,...more
"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...more
I'm afraid this book didn't overly impress me. I haven't watched the movie in many many years, but I suspect that this is one of those books which is better in movie form. The movie, in my dim recollection, included all the interesting action bits (and Ben Hur is not without it's rousing action and grand drama) while excluding the extensive and repeated philosophical ruminations. I don't have anything against an interesting philosophical question, but unfortunately the main topic of discussion (...more
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...more
Al Sumrall
This is one of the great books, written in a time when people had and took the time to read. I first read this unabridged version in high school in the sixties, I had only seen the film once as a child before I read this book. I love this book even if it was written by a former Yankee general. :-) Don't judge this book by modern standards, read it in the context of the time it was written. This book was no written to be a movie...but yet it was so good it inspired one of the greatest films of al...more
Full disclaimer: I have seen the theatrical adaptation of Ben-Hur at least four or five times. I am a very devoted fan and recommend it to everyone I know.

I had high expectations of the book and set my sights on getting a copy. Finally I have bought and read it. While it is a decent book with a redeeming ending, I have to say that the movie is a great refinement and improvement. Furthermore, even if I had never seen the movie I should still have the same criticisms to level at the book.

1. The na...more
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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...more
More about Lew Wallace...
The Fair God The Prince Of India, Or, Why Constantinople Fell Ben Hur (Volume 1); A Tale of the Christ Ben-Hur   Part 2 Of 2 Smoke, Sound & Fury: The Civil War Memoirs of Major-General Lew Wallace, U.S. Volunteers

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“Riches take wings, comforts vanish, hope withers away,but love stays with us. Love is God.” 28 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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