Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
May 4, 1961
NUMBER 1, PAGE 10b-11a

Book Review

Gordon Wilson, Sacramento, California

King of the West Side, by William Heuman. Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., $2.50.

This religious novel is the fictional story of 20 year old Danny Britton, who grew up in New York's tough west side. His parents having died while he was young, his older brother took over the job of bringing up Danny. Without parental guidance he had his troubles as a youth with the police. But now he has grown up and has become a prize fighter. When the story opens Danny has compiled a string of fifteen straight wins and is just at the threshold of the big time. This involves being noticed and put under contract by the "big guy" who is the power behind boxing. The big guy does notice Danny and gets him fights with the right persons. Everything is going just great for the young man who has no scruples about how he makes his money just so he makes plenty.

Then it happens! A big name evangelist comes to town to conduct a campaign in the Coliseum. The gimmick is that the evangelist's name is the same as Danny's — Dan Britton, so that the young fighter cannot help hearing about him. One of his friends gets converted, then his brother, but still Danny is not interested in religion, because it would interfere with his career in the ring. To make a long story short Danny, after a long internal conflict, is finally converted himself, gives up the ring career, finds a job, joins a church, and even becomes a Sunday School teacher. His faith wavers once when his brother has an accident which calls for an expensive operation, and Danny is forced to go back to boxing temporarily. But in the end he gets straightened out again. Oh yes, there is a girl in the story, and a love interest.

The story does, by implication, teach salvation by faith only as well as the idea of joining a church after salvation. In fact one gets the distinct idea that the faith itself is not too important compared with the importance of just "making a decision." Apparently the hero was actually converted to the evangelist (Billy Graham type) and only "committed" himself to Christ because the evangelist told him that it was the thing to do. One part of the story does contain some facts about the churches that is worth noting. It strongly lashes out against the coldness and lack of interest in the truth to be found in many churches, on the one hand, and the extreme emotionalism and fanaticism found in other churches on the other hand.

The novel is morally wholesome in contrast with the bulk of modern works of fiction; it is entertaining and enjoyable reading and could be read with pleasure and profit by a young adult who is fairly well grounded on the plan of salvation.

The book is, therefore, conditionally recommended, and may be ordered from the Gospel Guardian, Box 980, Lufkin, Texas.