Ben-Hur could be said to be the first American blockbuster. When it was published in 1880, it sold over two million copies and was translated into numerous languages. It combines all the best elements of popular classic, epic, and action stories against a background of authoritative historical detail. The pace and immediacy of
Ben-Hur was the basis of its appeal to filmmakers - Charlton Heston's portrayal of the title role became one of the classics of the cinema. Wallace's original novel has been largely forgotten now, but as this reading shows, the story, together with the sweeping rhythm of the writer's prose, make it ideally suited to audio.