Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ is a novel by Lew Wallace, published by Harper & Brothers on November 12, 1880. Considered "the most influential Christian book of the nineteenth century", it became a best-selling American novel, surpassing Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852) in sales. The book also inspired other novels with biblical settings and was adapted for the stage and motion picture productions. Ben-Hur remained at the top of the bestseller lists until the publication of Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind (1936). Following the release of the 1959 MGM film adaptation of Ben-Hur, which was seen by tens of millions and won eleven Academy Awards in 1960, the book's sales increased and it surpassed Gone with the Wind. Blessed by Pope Leo XIII, the novel was the first work of fiction to be so honored. The success of the novel and its stage and film adaptations also helped it become a popular cultural icon that was used to promote numerous commercial products. The story recounts in descriptive detail the adventures of Judah Ben-Hur, a fictional Jewish prince from Jerusalem, who is enslaved by the Romans at the beginning of the 1st century and becomes a charioteer and a Christian. Running in parallel with Judah's narrative is the unfolding story of Jesus, who comes from the same region and is a similar age. The novel reflects themes of betrayal, conviction, and redemption, with a revenge plot that leads to a story of love and compassion.
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