Buy it Because: You will be floored by the stories you didn't know...like a beer swilling, cigarette smoking Saint and nun.
...or Buy It Because: You don't have the time to read seven separate biographies but want the chance to learn all the details you didn't know about the incredible lives of Rosa Parks, Hannah Moore, Joan of Arc, Saint Maria of Paris, Mother Theresa, Corrie ten Boom, and Susanna Wesley.
My only critique of the book is that the author was stretching a bit with Susanna Wesley. Aside from enduring a very harsh and brutal life, her inclusion in this book is due to her influence as mother of John and Charles Wesley (the founders of Methodism and Evangelicalism). By that rationale we could likely include the mothers of Rosa Parks, William Wilberforce and John Paul II. My argument here is not that Mrs. Wesley wasn't a great woman but instead that Metaxas weakened the potential power of his book by not choosing a greater woman...a Sojourner Truth or Fannie Crosby or Evie Brand. Yes, Metaxas will likely publish future 7 Women volumes that may capture these other important figures...and I hope that he stays consistent in his criteria for inclusion.
That critique sounds more harsh than it should, because overall the author pens compelling stories of women who are incredible in their own accomplishments (apart from and not related to their gender). For example, Mother Theresa is part of our cultural lexicon but you likely don't know the amazing gall and bravery she exhibited throughout her life in serving the poor and marginalized of India.
Ultimately, Metaxas' is in his element when it comes to biographies--particularly these briefer volumes (versus his voluminous and comprehensive accounts of Bonhoeffer and Wilberforce). He really nails that je ne sais quoi concerning what a good biography does in its transcendence of our narrow view of events and ideas.
Perhaps the best thing about biographies is that they enable us to slip the strictures of time and provide a bracing corrective to our tendency to see everything in the dark glass of our own era, with all its blind spots, motes, beams, and distortions. We must be honest enough to recognize that each era cannot help having a pinched, parochial view of things, and of course the largest part of that parochialism is that each era thinks it is not parochial at all.
A comment about the author:
It's no secret that I am a huge fan of Eric Metaxas. He possesses the unusual combination of intelligence, wit, humor and silliness. He's a Yale graduate who doesn't take himself too seriously which is saying a lot. He also turned me on to Q Ideas, which is basically TED Talks for Christians (with both religious and secular thinkers, writers and leaders) that focuses on expanding the idea of personal Christian faith toward culture and communities. So here are links to other Metaxas posts that I've written:
Seven Men: The Secrets to Their Greatness: My Kindle Highlights and Notes
Amazing Grace (by Eric Metaxas): My Note and Kindle Highlights