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The Cross and the Switchblade: The Greatest Inspirational True Story of All Time
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The Cross and the Switchblade: The Greatest Inspirational True Story of All Time

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  41,414 Ratings  ·  512 Reviews
The tortured face of a young killer, one of seven boys on trial for a brutal murder, started country preacher David Wilkerson on his lonely crusade to the most dangerous streets in the world.Violent gangs ruled by warlords, drug pushers and pimps held the streets of New York’s ghettoes in an iron grip. It was into this world that David Wilkerson stepped, armed only with th ...more
Published August 14th 2002 by Zondervan (first published 1963)
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Edward L I would recommend this book for readers of all ages starting at 11 to any age. I am 76 years old and I found it hard to put down.
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Mike (the Paladin)
Another book I read many, many years ago, and like many people I picked it up at a time of crisis in my own life. After reading this book I went so far as to contact Nicky Cruz who was starting his own ministry.

As to the rating, the book isn't what might be called "great writing" but it is intense and in most places compelling. Told from a first person point of view Mr. Wilkerson relates the story and opens many of it's implications and inspirations to us.

That being said, and in the spirit of f
Olivia Humphrey
I decided to read this book, because of the controversial religion in this book. Previously going to a religious school, i found this book would be a good read to experience a main male character, going through adventures other men i have read about have not. As i have not read a lot of this genre, i felt it would be good to expand my knowledge. Learning about other problems in this world, beside the ones occurring in my part of the world is important in exploring what the world has to offer.

Great, eye-opening story! Unfortunately the theology isn't biblically sound, so I'd be pretty careful in recommending this to someone.
Ram Alsrougi
Mar 23, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Although the book seems interesting for teenagers and brainwashed people, but I've never believed what the clergy ever say about anything.
Alan Smith
As a non-Christian who dislikes being lectured about the supposed life-enriching joys of letting Jesus into your heart, I could logically be expected to loathe this book. To be fair, though, Wilkerson's work about his activities among street-kids and criminals is both entertaining and moving. He presents his case openly, with an obvious pride in his achievements and yet totally modestly, and pulls off the rare trick of telling a pro-Christian story that doesn't make the non-religious squirm with ...more
Rissa Karina Burge
CAREFUL in reading this book. It will trap you. This book is not about men. Instead, it's a book about the Holy Spirit in journeys of men. Firstly, the Spirit powerfully changed a journey of a preacher's life, David Wilkerson's. Then through this man's journey, a lot of other people's journeys are changed. From gangsters to ministers. From fighters to soldiers. From being lonesome to being loved. This is a story how God uses David Wilkerson to change teenagers in New York slums that were trapped ...more
Aug 19, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in college, I had a class on urbanization where we broke up into small groups. Each group was then assigned an inner-city neighborhood in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area. My group was assigned the Powderhorn/Central neighborhoods of Minneapolis, and we spent the next few weeks getting to know the area. (On the first day we saw the cops chase down a teenager on foot)

One of the stops we made was to a church that was home to a local TeenChallenge ministry, so we sat in on one of their dai
Katie Huscroft
This is definitely not the sort of book I would normally read. My christian friend lent it to me to read as I am not a believer and she said you can see God working through people.

I did like this book and found some of the stories emotional and moving. I liked how David would pray for a sign and then something would suddenly happen. All those examples in the book made me think it was too strange to be a coincidence and made me believe there might be something out there although I am still skepti
Aug 14, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: religious, nonfiction
I have wanted to read this one for a long time but never seemed to be able to find it at book sales. After finally being able to read it I understand why some consider it a Christian classic. You may not agree with Wilkerson's theology but while men stand around and argue theology Wilkerson's work still lives on. He was willing to go into the worst places and reach out to the meanest people and God rewarded him for that. This is a great book to read, it was an easy read and the authors kept it s ...more
Melissa Stacy
First published in 1962, and republished in 1983 with an author epilogue updating the original text, "The Cross and the Switchblade" is the memoir of a small-town preacher's adventures helping troubled teens in New York City.

Writers John and Elizabeth Sherrill assisted author David Wilkerson in penning this memoir, and they are credited on the book cover as co-authors.

David Wilkerson believes in the power of prayer to create miracles, and in a number of personal anecdotes in this memoir, he sha
Nov 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, prayer
I have read this book several times since it was published and reread it again today.

This book documents a walk of life probably closest to that of the early church that I have ever read. It is a story of being led by the Holy Spirit in every detail of life, in order to reach into the hearts of the lost boys and girls of the slums of New York City and to show them powerful deliverance from drug addictions, violence, street gangs, broken homes, poverty, etc. For example, twice he needed to find s
Jan 16, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very powerful book! I wept tears of joy after almost every chapter just watching how God was directing this man's steps toward what God was calling him to do. I remember I found it because someone from Teen Challenge suggested it when I was researching info about Teen Challenge for a screenplay I wanted to do. After reading it I felt that this book would make a powerful movie. Then I found out it was. Unfortunately the movie didn't do it justice I think because of the low budget it pro ...more
Jerome Peterson
A phenomenal true life story of gangs and one man's calling to show them that there is light at the end of their dismal tunnel;another path; hope; and a brighter future. A well written book dotted with profound reports and insights from the author about the gang members and their individual reactions. Wilkerson does a great job bringing out the shortcomings as well as the hope for his calling. Written decades ago this book is still relevant today and could be used today for our communities with ...more
Wow! What an amazing faith-building story! Highly recommended for teens and beyond (some of the content is a bit too mature for little ears, although I do plan on reading this aloud to my family with some editing as I go).
If you are looking for a book that will build your faith, read this book.
If you are looking for a good resource for teens that would deter them from desiring to experiment with drugs, have them read this book.
Apr 30, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
True Story of a small town Pastor who, through a commitment to replace watching T.V with prayer, is led by the Spirit to Harlem to minister to 13-16 year old gang members responsible for the murder of a special needs boy.
The story recounts the conversation of gang members, Rev.Wilkenson's faith to follow and trust the Holy Spirit's leading and provision, and provides a great reminder of the powerful God I serve....His heart for the lost and exhorts me to trust his power more.
May 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spirituality, memoir
Noting on my Goodreads newsfeed that this book is being re-published, I was reminded that I read it long, long ago. (I was about 13 years old, and it was available in our church library.) I clearly remember one scene that has stuck with me all these years; if an author can write with that kind of staying power, his book probably deserves 4 stars. (-:
Maureen Barnes
May 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A little known preacher, called by God to reach the gangs of New York City. He was young himself, not versed in the language of the slums, the determination of the Addict, and the hatred of anything good. David Wilkerson is the Preacher, trembling but sure of the call. Nicky Cruz is the gang leader, filled with enough hatred to instill fear in everyone he encountered. This is a true story, nothing made up, it is true and raw. Filled with love for his fellow man, David does not stop reaching out. ...more
Megan Lewis
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such an intense and intensely interesting book. I just could not stop till it was done. The reliance upon prayer and thanksgiving prayer was inspiring; it's encouraging to hear from other sources than just my church the effectiveness of thanksgiving prayer.
Mar 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great story of the Gospel being spread to the darkest regions of society...and all the more impressive because it's true.
Jun 11, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had been on my shelf for a few years and am very glad to finally to read it.

It did a little while to get in because as Reverend David begins his ministy with New York street kids, he doesn't know what he doing and consequently follows through step by step as the Holy Spirit leads him. A bigger picture imerges of the lives, stories and sense of hoplessness to which of the people he ministers to have.

I think this is read must christian book even though it was wrtten nearly 50 years ago
Leandro Guimarães
Pentecostal small-town preacher goes to the Big Apple to try to reach drug addicts. A classic, hugely influential in hundreds of thousands, even millions of lifes of drug addicts, the missionaries who cared for them in thousands of Pentecostal recovery houses all over the world wherever there are drug addicts, not to mention the Pentecostal churches which then cared for the recoverees when they left the safe houses.

Pentecostalism at its best. Only beware the imposition of ‘gifts’ manifestation o
This book is like my grandfather. It's full of amazing stories, but it's pretty dated and a little, well direct.

BUT...the story in insanely powerful, and God used it to speak directly to me about something very specific when I was reading it. Plus, it's just one of those classic things the older generation knows, and it's good to dip into their culture now and again.

Needless to say, my mom gave it to me to read.
Steven Walle
Oct 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
David Wilkerson, a Pastor of a large church in New York city, wrote of his part in saving a young man Nicky Cruz from a life of misoury in a gang in New York. He explains how the love and salvation of Jesus Christ turned this young man's life around. This book will strengthen the faith of a believer and cause a nonbeliever to reconsider his or her convictions.
I recommend this book to all.
Enjoy and Be Blessed.
Dec 26, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was a the right time to read this book on Good Friday. It is honest, realisitic and I was indeed inspired. The power of prayer and child-like faith will always leave you amazed at the power of God.
This is an amazing true story. It was easy to read and follow. It didn't hold anything back about the reality of gangs, violence, drug abuse and the power of the Holy Spirit. I think all Christians would be encouraged by this story!
Apr 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It was not anywhere near the top of my TO READ shelf. It was not recommended by anyone. I have not heard any word about it before. The only thing I knew about The Cross and the Switchblade was that the author, David Wilkerson helped John Ramirez, the author of The Devil's Cauldron and Unmasking the Devil, when he was trying to get a hang on the God of the Bible.
Well, it turned out that I was led to read this book and I couldn't be happier. This was a kind of autobiography for the author, focusin
Rachel B
I can see why this is considered a Christian classic. It's a very fast-paced, exciting story of Wilkerson's ministry in New York City with teenaged gang members.

The emphasis in this book is on the power of the Holy Spirit and the importance of humility and prayer. There are countless prayers answered miraculously, and I found it an encouraging read.

My issue with the book came in the last few chapters. Wilkerson is Pentecostal and believes in the "gibberish/no-interpreter-necessary" version of s
Ben Lind
Mar 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Compelling. A tangible reminder that the Spirit is active and works through true faith. It’s a quick read that’s worth revisiting every few years.
Micah Rydmark
Mar 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My only wish is that I read this book sooner.
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great book!

The book is the true story of how God used a normal country preacher to start a movement that reached out to toughest drug-atticted, gang-fighting street kids in New York, and then spread to many countries across the world.

This very inspiring and God glorifying story is a "must read" for anyone leading a ministry of any kind (and the wives or husbands).

I have had a copy of this book sitting on my bookshelf for at least 20 years without touching it - don't make the same mistake I did
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David Ray Wilkerson was an American Christian evangelist, best known for his book The Cross and the Switchblade. He was the founder of the addiction recovery program Teen Challenge, and founding pastor of the non-denominational Times Square Church in New York.

Wilkerson's widely distributed sermons, such as "A Call to Anguish", are known for being direct and frank against apostasy and serious about
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“What is it about tears that should be so terrifying? the touch of God is marked by tears...deep, soul-shaking tears, comes when that last barrier is down and you surrender yourself to health and wholeness” 52 likes
“You asked the Holy Spirit for a miracle, and now that you’ve got one you’re trying to argue it away. People who don’t believe in miracles shouldn’t pray for them.” 27 likes
More quotes…