• Ben-Hur

  • A Tale of the Christ
  • By: Lew Wallace
  • Narrated by: Todd McLaren
  • Length: 23 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,009 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

A classic of faith, fortitude, and inspiration, this faithful New Testament tale combines the events of the life of Jesus with grand historical spectacle in the exciting story of Judah of the House of Hur, a man who finds extraordinary redemption for himself and his family.

Judah Ben-Hur lives as a rich Jewish prince and merchant in Jerusalem at the beginning of the first century. His old friend, Messala, arrives as commanding officer of the Roman legions. They become bitter enemies. Because of an unfortunate accident, Ben-Hur is sent as a slave in the mines, while his family is sent to leprosy caves. As Messala is dying from being crushed in a chariot race, he reveals where Ben-Hur's family is. On the road to find them, Ben-Hur meets the Christ as he is on the road to Golgotha to be crucified. That day changes Ben-Hur's life forever, for that is the day he becomes a believer.

Public Domain (P)2011 Tantor

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What listeners say about Ben-Hur

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Not Like the Movie

First off, remember this is the reading of a book that was written in 1880, not the transcript of the 1959 movie starring Charlton Heston (or the arguably superior 1925 silent film starring Ramon Novarro). The movies took many liberties with the story, if this is the kind of thing that bugs you, you may want to look for a different book. Second, notice the subtitle is “A Tale of the Christ”. This is a much more religious book than either of the movies would lead you to believe, so if that is something that will put you off, I suggest that you find another book.

With those disclaimers, I have to say that I am impressed with how well the story is told. Though there are parts where Wallace gets a little stiff, it didn’t feel overly dated. In fact I was often surprised with how well the work was constructed. The narrator also does a great job with this story, and the time seemed to go by rather quickly.

52 people found this helpful

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Awesome Story!

I vaguely remember Ben Hur from my childhood as a Hollywood drama. I am amazed after listening to the whole book what a lame movie Ben-Hur was. I think because Hollywood is completely void of religious understanding the movie was mostly just about action and Chariot racing. this is a wonderful story of the time and background of the coming of Christ. I absolutely loved the characters and some of the wonderful background detail of the time and places. if you want to more excellent books along the same line quo vadis and the robe are both excellent too. the reader is okay. He does an acceptable job reading but there's nothing exceptional about his intonation of voice or abilities to dramatize the characters.

23 people found this helpful

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A Great and Beautiful Story

One of the best audible books I have bought. So much more than the movie, and beautifully presented. History, wisdom, and ancient places described with accurate and brilliant vocal, and authors creative mastery of language. I will listen to it again and again. Much more than I expected from this story, which is mostly remembered for the exciting chariot race. I would never have chosen it, but heard rave reviews about this author on TV. The narrator is excellent. A learning experience revisiting from the past, but wisdom so current. I was emotionally inspired, and listened to many chapters more than once. Lew Wallace wrote a masterpiece, and I appreciate it very much. Warning...it will make you cry.

19 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Very Sad that I could not give less stars

I loved the the 1959 film version, staring Charlton Heston, of this book and was very excited to see it here on Audible. So far I have attempted to listen to it 5 times. I really want to like this book. Thinking it might be the narrator I checked out a copy of the book at my local library and the problem is not the narrator. The story is hung together a series of coincidences that I can not believe. The characters from the movie that I love in the book I do not care about. They are hollow and the dialog is tedious.
I can honestly say for the first time that I like the movie version of a book better the the book itself.

12 people found this helpful

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A bit wordy at times but so worth it!

I must admit that it took two different attempts of starting this book to actually make it through. There are parts at the beginning where I wondered if the author would ever get to the point. Honestly though, once the action started with Ben-Hur, I was engaged the entire time.
Great performance by the narrator as well. I am so happy that I persisted with this book, to me it was well worth it.

10 people found this helpful

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Exceptional Story

This would be the perfect read between Thanksgiving & Easter. I loved how the story began with the wise men & I enjoyed the author's portrayal of each of their individual characters.
I also loved the vivid descriptions of the Ben Hur, his family, Esther & her father, the Egyptian Iris & her father, Marcellas & others in the story. It was so well written you could feel you were there during the chariot race or Christ's crucifixion. It was easy to empathize with the people who longed for a king to lead them against their Roman oppressors. Jesus was not what they expected but he was so much more. In humility, he suffered persecution & death all for the sake of his people. It is a story of hope & redemption.

8 people found this helpful

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A story about a disciple of Jesus

I read this book as a boy, but have read it again. It is a tale of a man and his family who were badly wronged. A man who was so touched by the love of Christ that it changed everything for him. It's almost like a fictional gospel, as told by a disciple who slowly came to recognize the character of God through his many encounters with Christ, and through the reverence and love of Jesus that the Egyptian magi had.

This is certainly another case where the story of the book is so much richer than the 1950's movie. Even a well-done movie of 4 hours cannot begin to reflect the richness of this story. Forget about the recent movie altogether please. From this book I can see how deeply Lew Wallace loved the lord. You really care about the characters in this book.

The narrator was excellent. The dialogue and speech of the characters was vivid, but not overdone.

7 people found this helpful

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    1 out of 5 stars

Like listening to the Bible.

It is written in the poetic rythm of a biblical verse. While that is not a bad thing for the bible itself. Read a verse at a time and contimplated. It makes for a very boring listen!

I was also unimpressed with the narrator, though can't decide if it was due to the material or his talents.

6 people found this helpful

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Great Classic

Is there anything you would change about this book?

The length, it tends to drag out sometimes

What did you like best about this story?

Life lessons you can learn

What does Todd McLaren bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He has a very soothing voice

Was Ben-Hur worth the listening time?

yes

Any additional comments?

no

5 people found this helpful

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A true classic

Any additional comments?

Audible allows me to listen to classics that I would never have time to sit down and read. Ben-Hur is a classic on my own "must read" list. It is very long and it is very slow in most places. The gold nuggets come in the last third of the book. It is worth the wait, but I would never have the patience to sit and listen to this story develop. I listened while multi-tasking and zoned out the boring parts. Still, I feel accomplished to have made it through the book and appreciate the message.

3 people found this helpful

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  • ANDREW C MARAIS
  • 11-25-20

An excellent book well told

A masterful classic. The film does no justice to the rich depth of knowledge and understanding of the author to the subject matter. I was genuinely saddened to finish the book and long to find similar.

1 person found this helpful

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  • Mrs. T. C. Bramwell
  • 05-16-20

Very long & windy

I loved the Charlton Heston movie and as it is also mentioned in Anne of Green Gables I thought it was high time I actually read it. It is incredibly long and some of the extra bits that were not included in the movie; Iris’ long stories etc don’t really add anything to the story

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  • Deborah
  • 06-10-17

watch out for the ending!

Great story but ending very abrupt, as if ran out of time to tell it!

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  • Anonymous User
  • 03-01-19

Incredible historical fiction!

Wonderfully narrated, this gem of a book is such an insight into life in the time of Jesus. Romans warring against Jews, unrest, great injustices and incredible mercy. %100 reccommend!

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  • mrs
  • 09-25-16

Nineteenth century melodrama - give it a miss

I was curious it read the book because I loved the movie as a kid but I just couldn't get through it. It is verbose, preachy and the characters are two dimensional.