Saturday, December 5, 2009

The White Horse King, the Life of Alfred the Great by Benjamin Merkle

Before reading Benjamin Merkle’s book The White Horse King, the Life of Alfred the Great, the only thing I knew about this ninth century monarch was that he had “Great” in his title. I finished the book published by Thomas Nelson with a great appreciation for this godly man who courageously rid his land of the fierce, marauding Vikings and then installed a system of protection, a plan of literacy, and a foundation of justice in his area of early Great Britain.

Merkle’s well-researched story may be a little long on battle stories for my liking, but he does an excellent job of showing his readers that Alfred isn’t just a battle-worn commander. Alfred becomes a compassionate, God-honoring leader who sets a goal of providing education for the common man in his country so all have access to the early writings of church leaders. Alfred, himself, learned Latin and then translated the first fifty Psalms and Augustine’s Soliloquies for his countrymen. Alfred generously established monasteries, churches, and schools, but wanting to give more of himself to God, he resolved to give one-half of each of his days to study and prayer.

In Merkle’s own words, “Alfred truly was the great king of England, the one monarch who rightly understood the needs of the nation and unrelentingly gave all he had to supply those needs.” He is a model for all who aspire to leadership.

I was fortunate to read this book under the auspices of the Thomas Nelson Book Review Blogger program. You can read about more of their books at


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