My brand-new book, Billy Graham: The Man I Knew, officially releases this month, and I’m excited for you to read it. In it, I record many of my personal experiences with Billy, and I like to say it’s “an evangelist’s look at an evangelist.” You can hear me talk about it at length in the podcast above.
As you might know, this is my third biography. My first was titled Steve McQueen: The Salvation of an American Icon, and the other I called Johnny Cash: The Redemption of an American Icon.
I had intended to call this book Billy Graham: The Making of an American Icon, but my friend Franklin Graham, Billy’s son, said to me, “Daddy would not want to be called an icon. You should instead call it Billy Graham: The Man I Knew.” I thought that was a great title, so we changed it.
You may be thinking, There have been so many biographies of Billy Graham, so why write another one? Well, there are a couple reasons why I wrote this one.
The human side of Billy
There’s been a lot written about Billy Graham over the years, but my aim was to show the human side of Billy. Sometimes a person can fade into history, and people never really had any interaction with them. They almost become one-dimensional like President Lincoln on the $5 bill.
Billy Graham was a real flesh-and-blood guy. It was my privilege to spend a lot of time with him—a lot of time just hanging out with him. A lot of time asking him questions. A lot of time listening to him preach. I got to know him—dare I say—as a friend. He was just such a great man to observe. And what I found was that the private Billy was even more impressive than the public Billy.
The public Billy was very impressive. I mean, I can’t think of a greater preacher I have ever seen! But privately, he was very humble, very gracious, and always was interested in whoever he was speaking to. He was the godliest man I have ever met. That’s the Billy Graham I wanted to show.
Billy for a new generation
My other reason for writing a book on Billy Graham was to introduce Billy to a new generation. Today, young people are looking for authenticity, not just novelty. And so I hope my book is an introduction for young people that don’t really know Billy. They may have not been raised seeing Billy on television all the time. They never went in person to a Billy Graham crusade.
I think they’ll find that, in fact, he was the coolest of cool because he was him. He was an authentic Billy Graham. He was the same in private as he was in public.
I recall attending an event he spoke at attended by a lot of young people. When he walked out—and by the way, he wore a suit—he got the greatest applause of the night. And when he spoke, those kids listened. You could have heard a pin drop. He had this ability to connect from the beginning to the middle to the end of his ministry, and so I think his story can resonate with any generation. I hope it impacts the next one.
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