A Crisis That Shaped The Salvation Army's Future

'In 1929,' begins the author, 'a constitutional storm that had long been gathering suddenly burst, sweeping from office General Bramwell Booth, the son and successor to William Booth. So traumatic was this event that for many years "1929" – for that is how it was known – was only talked of in hushed tones in Army circles. The telling of what happened was left to those from outside the Army family.'

Now after 80 years the full story of the crisis, with all its astonishing twists and turns, is set out by a Salvationist writer. In the drafting of this account, General John Larsson (Retired) has had access to hitherto unpublished material, much of it in the Army's heritage centres around the world.

'What shook the Army also shaped its future,' concludes the author. 'Through these events of long ago the Army was set on a path of reform that continues to this day. 1929 is part of our heritage.'

Extracts From Reviews

  • Major Christine Clement
    Salvationist, UK

    The book 1929 is a fascinating read. Indeed it’s a page-turner! The prologue mentions the enormous media interest in the events surrounding the The Salvation Army’s first High Council and as the story unfolds the reader can understand why this was so ...

    John Larsson has thoroughly researched the available documents and weaves together and delivers a clear and concise story … Having laid the foundation about the constitution the author continues by introducing the characters involved and the issues that precipitated the crisis ...

    The story leads readers through the ups and downs, the twists and turns of the action and opposing strategies before, during and after the High Council, with never a judgmental word written or implied. The facts are presented, the story unfolds, the pace quickens and the pages are turned more quickly! ...

    The book has all the elements of a good novel – clear characters, plot, motive and intrigue … Sadly, it is not a novel – it is part of our history; yet the storm was weathered and today the calling of the High Council is a normal part of Army life ...

    1929 is a fascinating and easy read which will leave the reader better informed about this intriguing period of Army history.

  • Roger J. Green
    Word and Deed, USA

    There are several reasons to commend this book, not the least of which is that the book is so well written. This will come as no surprise to those of us who have read other works by General Larsson. There is clarity that is noteworthy in this book because the author has to deal with so many complicated historical, biographical and legal matters that otherwise could become rather confusing to the reader … And the character sketches throughout the book of many of the participants in this crisis add to the richness of the text and help the reader to see the human face of history ...

    The author goes out of his way to present a balanced treatment of the people involved in the conflict as well as the motivations assigned to those people. Again, in this way the book addresses confusion from the past where some members of the Booth family were portrayed as heroes while those discharged with the responsibility of putting him out of office were the sinners, or vice versa … This author will have none of that, but readily appreciates the complications of human motivations, the passions of held beliefs, and the imperfections of character with which we all live and which are part of the human condition ...

    The book must be read with discernment if the implications of this crisis are to be understood. But again the author comes to the rescue of the reader by one of the concluding chapters entitled ‘Ongoing Reform’. And so the events of 1929 are seen not in isolation from the ensuing events of the Army, but as a catalyst for reform that still continues in the Army today and prevents the Army from being locked in a tradition that would be impossible to defend in the years since this tragic confrontation.

  • Major Frank Duracher
    Southern Spirit, USA

    Salvationists who also have a love for the Army’s history have waited 80 years for a definitive account of events brewing like a tempest around the precedent-setting calling of the High Council, and the subsequent removal from office of General Bramwell Booth.

    In his book 1929 General John Larsson lifts the veil for regular Salvationists and history buffs with his day-by-day, and sometimes minute-by-minute account of the crisis that had the Army on a precipice teetering on extinction ... General Larsson skilfully takes the reader on a roller-coaster ride ...

    In addition his treatment throughout is unbiased and fair. The pathos of the Booth family engenders the reader’s sympathy; in contrast with an objective understanding of the position of the requisitioning commissioners who found themselves with the distasteful duty of impeaching no less than the man who worked alongside his father, and our Founder, since the Army’s days as The Christian Mission.

    1929 is a must for the casual reader as well as students of Army history who may have long-wondered about the details of a subject heretofore considered taboo.

  • Stephen Poxon
    Letter to Salvationist, UK

    General John Larsson (Retired) has presented the Army with a masterly work in his book 1929. I couldn't put it down. It is a scholarly description of seismic events in Salvation Army history, yet presented in such a way as to be immensely readable. The staggering depth of research alone easily justifies its publication and commends it as a thoroughly worthwhile addition to any Army bookshelf.

    Many of the events of 1929 are enough to make one wince, and as I read about them, I could scarcely believe the astonishing behaviour of some of the key players. General Larsson, though, describes even the most dreadful twists and turns with an impressively gracious turn of phrase. All throughout, colossal egos are met with colossal charm! His ability to be fair and objective in print is to his great credit as an author, especially in handling such highly controversial subject matter.

    John Larsson has produced a piece of work that presents the Army in very honest and realistic terms (i.e. as an imperfect movement, whatever some other historians would have us believe), yet with such a deft and considerate touch that the providential hand of God upon the events of eighty years ago can be clearly traced, despite human foibles. 1929 is an intelligent and serious story, a credible, painstakingly researched history book, and, perhaps most of all, a kindly and generous account of flawed human beings doing what they each, quite sincerely, thought was right at the time. I am indebted to General John Larsson for such a gripping and hugely informative book. It has 'labour of love' written all over it.