Book Review: Saint Augustine – A Life

Saint Augustine - A Life by Gary WillsGary Wills, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, writes this biography of Saint Augustine. The author does an admiral job at accomplishing what many biographers fail to do – write a biography that neither iconizes nor demonizes the subject.
 
Augustine was born in Northern Africa in 354. He was well educated and well traveled in his youth. At a young age he took a concubine and had a son. In his youth he followed one of the many pagan religions of his time. He became a Christian at the age of 31.
 
Wills utilizes countless sources for his information on Augustine. He borrows liberally from Augustine’s supporters and detractors, and much from Augustine himself. Augustine’s autobiography, The Testimony, contributes greatly to this book.
 
Wills moves through Augustine’s birth, worldly youth, education, conversion, teaching, preaching and reforming. Wills covers many uncomfortable topics about Augustine’s sin life – some real, some fabricated by detractors.
 
Augustine was a philosophical and theological genius. He was a great reformer within the Catholic church and a grand pedestal for the likes of Martin Luther to stand upon. Augustine’s books, essays and letters of Christian thought are arguably more influential than any other Christian writer since Paul. The list of his works consists of more than a hundred titles.
 
Within the Catholic church he served as a priest, preacher and, until his death in 430, bishop in Hippo (Roman controlled North Africa).
 

Wills does a wonderful job to wet the apatite of the reader, causing a desire to read more written by and about Saint Augustine.