Read The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay Online


“The Power of One has everything: suspense, the exotic, violence; mysticism, psychology and magic; schoolboy adventures, drama.”–The New York Times“Unabashedly uplifting . . . asserts forcefully what all of us would like to believe: that the individual, armed with the spirit of independence–‘the power of one’–can prevail.”–Cleveland Plain DealerIn 1939, as Hitler casts his“The Power of One has everything: suspense, the exotic, violence; mysticism, psychology and magic; schoolboy adventures, drama.”–The New York Times“Unabashedly uplifting . . . asserts forcefully what all of us would like to believe: that the individual, armed with the spirit of independence–‘the power of one’–can prevail.”–Cleveland Plain DealerIn 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams–which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice where he will learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the power of one.“Totally engrossing . . . [presents] the metamorphosis of a most remarkable young man and the almost spiritual influence he has on others . . . Peekay has both humor and a refreshingly earthy touch, and his adventures, at times, are hair-raising in their suspense.”–Los Angeles Times Book Review“Marvelous . . . It is the people of the sun-baked plains of Africa who tug at the heartstrings in this book. . . . [Bryce] Courtenay draws them all with a fierce and violent love.”–The Washington Post Book World“Impressive.”–Newsday“A compelling tale.”–The Christian Science Monitor...

Title : The Power of One
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781740303903
Format Type : Audio CD
Number of Pages : 0 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Power of One Reviews

  • Elyse
    2019-04-29 23:17

    Wow... incredible!!! I fell in love with Peekay even 'before' he was five years old, starting in South Africa, when he shares of being nursed from his lovely black nanny before being sent to boarding school. ( although we follow him from age 5 to 20 - from the late 1930's to mid 40's).Our oldest daughter attended a boarding High School in Michigan for a short time -an academic/arts school. The family separation was painful. I can't begin to imagine sending a 5 year old away to a boarding school even in the 'best' of conditions.And the fact that this story is inspired by the authors real life....for me, this is one of the most wrenching parts of the entire book...."being sent away from his family at age 5 -- from 'love' he was receiving to 'hatred' he was walking into. Peekay is bullied and abused almost immediately upon arrival as a 5 year old at his boarding school. He's the youngest child in the school. Missing the comfort of his Black nanny ( Peekay is English and white), who would soothe his hurts...missing his mother who was sent away due to a nervous breakdown, Peekay was the first live example of the congenital hate they carried for his kind."The Boer War had created great malevolent feelings against the English, who were called the 'rooineks'. It was a hate that had entered the Afrikaner bloodstream and pocked the hearts and minds of the next generation". Given that Peekay, spoke English, he pronounced sentences that killed their grandfathers and grandmothers to the world's first concentration camps. Little Peekay had no advance warning that he was wicked before coming to the school. One of the other kids - called 'Judge' abused Peekey regularly. Peekay even made a deal with him to do the Judge's homework and make sure he didn't fail-- but he still continues to abuse him. - really 'tortured him.We see how Peekay begins to survive- horrific conditions at such a young tender age: Peekay says: "One thing got to them more than anything else. They could make me cry. Even the Judge, with all of the fear he could provoke, could not make me cry. I suspect they even began to admire me a bit. Many as them brothers my age at home, and they knew how easy it is for a five-year-old to cry. In fact, I had turned six but nobody had told me, so in my head, I was still five"."Not being able to cry was the hardest part for me as well. Crying can't be a good camouflage. In truth, my willpower had very little to do with my resolve never to cry. I had learned a special trick and, in the process, had somehow lost the knack of turning on the tap". Peekay is a diamond in the inspiring character. He's smart, open minded, and doesn't have an ounce of bitterness or hatred in him. He develops meaningful friendships with teachers and mentors who teach him to read. He meets a healer, and a boxer. We learn a tremendous amount about boxing. We also learn a lot about the history of South Africa through the eyes of a child. The themes of discrimination were well defined by the author: the Boers vs. the English - South Africans vs. the Germans - the Jews vs. the Germans - white Africans vs. the Black Africans. Violence is graphic - so be warned. It's a cruel and beautiful world we live in!

  • Deanne
    2019-05-03 00:14

    I just finished reading The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay which was recommended to me by JK in our little cross country virtual book club. Divided into three parts, this is a story of a boy named Peekay coming of age in 1930-1950's South Africa. So, we've got major historical things happening - Boer War aftermath, Hitler Germany and WWII, the buddings of Apartheid. And then you have this really small boy going through hell at age 5 in a boarding school and learning at this infant stage in life how to survive. His power grows with each new and colorful mentor that he (and we) meets along the way. "First with the head and then with the heart," is his mantra throughout the story. There is little I love more than a good piece of fiction with brilliant and richly described narrative. I just found that a movie was made about the book in 1992... I'm definitely interested in checking it out but I don't want to ruin the absoloodle perfection of this story so I may skip it.

  • Dolors
    2019-04-29 20:06

    Of all the books I read in 2009 one stands out in the horizon of my memory, a mass market paperback with 540 pages of microscopic print which I devoured in a day and a half.The Power of one gave me the chance to meet a part of myself that I thought I had lost forever. It rekindled a long extinguished flame of hope, it awakened a lost feeling of wonder, it gave me proof that one can make a difference.Set in South Africa in the 1930s and 40s , The Power of one is the compelling coming-of-age story of "Peekay", an innocent English boy who very early in his life realizes that there are greater things at stake than the hatred between the Dutch Afrikaners and the English. The Second World War in Europe, the growing racial tensions and the beginning of Apartheid will influence his world and challenge his spiritual strength.Even though the odds are stacked against small Peekay from the start, he never loses faith in the goodness of people and following the advice of several improvised but memorable mentors who will change his life, he becomes an improbable icon in boxing which will make history.Reading this book felt magical, the story was touching in so many different ways that sometimes I had to stop reading, overwhelmed by the details and the tenderness I felt for this pure little boy who made a turbulent and full of hatred world shine with his goodwill and with his mysticism.Peekay is one of the most inspiring characters I have ever met. He has become a part of myself, he belongs to me and to all the readers who re-learnt to believe along with him.

  • Malia
    2019-05-13 18:32

    I hardly know where to begin writing this review. This book had been on my to-read list for a long time. I finally decided to take the plunge and listen to the Audible version, narrated by the fantastic Humphrey Bowers (who really brought SHANTARAM to life also). And now it's over. Twenty hours spent getting to know the wonderful Peekay, and now I'm done? This is one of those books that isn't really over when you finish it. It stays with you and the characters live on inside your head.That's really the highest compliment I can pay a book.The story is so hard to describe without making it sound simplistic. It is a coming of age story, a tale of friendship and history and love. It's the kind of book I already know I will find myself recommending to all sorts of people. I can see it appealing to young and old, men and women, which is a rare thing to come across. There is such humanity and thoughtfulness in this story, it's got humor, but a great depth, too. Since it is told by a boy, growing into young adulthood, he sees a lot of the political and social strife of the South African people though the eyes of a child, which adds such a strong emotional element to the story.I feel a bit at a loss now, and don't quite know what to pick up next. I think it will have to be something entirely different, for it to have a chance, and for me not to compare it unfavorable to THE POWER OF ONE.Needless to say, once I have let some time pass for this story to sink in, I will be seeking out Bryce Courtenay's many other books. I only wish I could write to him, and tell him how much I enjoyed his book, sadly he passed on two years ago. As I understand it, this story was largely autobiographical, which makes it that much more fascinating. Highly recommended!!Find more reviews and bookish fun at

  • Megan
    2019-05-13 16:08

    I had high hopes for this book, but in the end was a little disappointed. It seems towards the end of the book he lost track of where he was going with it all and just ended it, although maybe this says more about my lack of getting his point than it does about his writing style. One thing he does have though is energy, and that helped in keeping me interested. I also think the "power of one" is a rather funny concept considering the main character, Peekay, who supposedly possesses (or cultivates) this power owes much of it all to the support he has from many friends, mostly adults. People who took the time and energy and love to support him and promote him, mind, body, and spirit. His power of one is only possible from the love and care of many. And it makes me sad that the story ended with a story of revenge, i think it cheapens the story. So, to conclude all of these random comments, I think that the story had a lot of potential and there were some good things about it, but I think it could have been better executed and I'm not quite sure I agree with the philosophy behind the whole thing.

  • Matthew
    2019-05-09 23:18

    Took me some time to read, but not because it wasn't good, but just because there is so much to this story. A supremely well written book! If you like historical fiction - the type focused on people living in certain historical eras, not necessarily specific historical events - you will enjoy this story. I now feel like I have a good feel for WWII era South Africa. Also, if you like interesting characters and good character development, this is a good story for you, too.

  • Carol
    2019-05-07 00:07

    What a nice surprise this book was for me. This coming-of-age story set in 1939 South Africa has a focus on the sport of boxing throughout, which I am generally not a fan of, but certainly loved every minute of it in this story. Peekay endures awful humiliation and abandonment at such a young age yet he struggles along through adversity and heartbreaking losses.Numerous comments by readers mention they did not care for the ending, but I, for one, loved it! (view spoiler)[I kept wondering when the 'judge' would reappear hoping he would get his comeuppance and was so glad Peekay gave it to him good. When early in the book the 'judge' abused Peekay, even after he did all his homework and promised otherwise, made him eat human sh*t, tortured and killed Granpa Chook, Peekay's beloved and clever rooster and only friend, the ending made me feel pretty darn satisfied. As for becoming the World's Welterweight Champion, you knew he would do just that. (hide spoiler)]A touching and up-lifting story I plan to read again. Absoloodle! (you'll have to read the novel to appreciate that one) Highly recommend!

  • Claudia
    2019-05-09 17:19

    This book is a wonderful story of the hope and success of an underdog, of relationships breaking barriers of race, age, religion, wealth, and of a boy learning who he is and who he should be. I would really like to rate this book a 4.5. I loved about 500 pages of this book, but was disappointed with the ending. ***SPOILER ALERT*** For most of the book I really thought, this could really happen. And then, to make a "nice ending", of course it all comes full circle in the end and the frayed ends are all knotted. That just doesn't happen. Allowing Peekay to conquer the Judge in one simple fight left me very unsatisfied. The whole book I pulled for him to slowly, bit by bit, mature and conquer his childhood demons. It seems a little trite that with one fight, it's all over. Not to mention that the knife carving in the Judge was way over the top. Made me feel like Courtenay got so deep in the fascinating intricacies of the stories that he couldn't find a way out, got tired of writing, and tossed in that scene so I could get back to the other 15 or so books on my bookshelf... I may be a rare reader in that I would have much preferred being left not knowing what lies ahead for PK with the People, boxing, school, God, his friends, etc., hoping and cheering for him as he moves on to other things in life to continue his quest to discover himself and the world. I strive to be a forgiving soul, though, so I will not let the last 5 pages ruin the glorious journey I enjoyed with PK.

  • Heather W
    2019-04-25 18:17

    One of my favorite books! This is a truly inspirational historical fiction about of boyhood in South Africa at the birth of apartheid. Follow the life of a British child who comes of age amidst resentful Boers who are recovering from their own persecution while simultaneously championing the causes of Hitler in Germany. This precocious boy struggles to understand the clash of races and racism while simultaneously overcoming boundaries through the medium of competitive boxing.One perhaps could make the arguement that a tinge of racism lingers in the storyline itself due to the fact that the main character, a white boy, becomes the perceived savior and idol of the native African tribesmen (sort of like Ben Kingsley, a Brit, portraying Gandhi onscreen). However, it is still a wonderful book in which the reader becomes immersed in the story, place and time.

  • Arah-Lynda
    2019-05-04 21:11

    This is the story of Peekay, a frail, young, English boy growing up poor in South Africa and of his refusal to be demoralized by the racial torment surrounding him. On the road to becoming a young man he cultivates some uniquely, diverse friends and discovers many truths, not the least of which, are that loyalty, strength, love and compassion, coupled with a insatiable, thirst for knowledge and armed with the focus and courage to stay true to one's own self, can all be fused together, thus harnessing a power so potent that any worthy goal can and will be achieved. For me the message that rings out loudest and clearest in this story is how ridiculous racial hatred truly is.

  • Brad
    2019-04-29 21:20

    When talking about The Power of One, it is easy to be distracted by "the power of one" itself and place ultimate importance on Peekay's slippery personal philosophy. But to do so to the exclusion of all else but racism is to read only a small portion of Bryce Courtenay's masterwork.The Power of One also deals with class, religion, science, obsession, faith vs. reason, objectivism, homosocial intimacy, and in one of the finest literary expressions of its kind, the importance of violence.Peekay's use of violence is controlled and seemingly benevolent, but he doesn't just use violence, he needs violence. It is the very basis of his obsession with becoming the Welterweight Champion of the World. It is at the root of everything he fights for and against. And it is the question and the answer to the defining struggle of Peekay's life.One need only look to the final pages of The Power of One for the answer to the question. Peekay savagely destroys Botha, the Judge that started him on the road to violence; while Peekay is violent in self defense, he perpetrates his violence with a ruthlessness and controlled savagery that dwarfs any of his childhood persecutions at the Judge's hands. The final, brutal mutilation of Botha -- an act that likely raises few eyebrows amongst readers directed as it is at a symbol we consider pure evil -- is an overtly violent catharsis that brings peace to Peekay's spirit (but not an end to his need for violence). It is difficult to see Peekay's conquering of Botha as anything but just. Not only is Botha responsible for the abuse that dehumanized Peekay as a child (although Botha was a child himself at the time of the abuse) and about to take Peekay's life, but Courtenay overdetermines Botha's desert by making him a branded acolyte of Adolph Hitler, a Nazi racist who is apparently beyond redemption.But beneath and behind this easy rationalization of Peekay's violence is an important commentary on our need for violence.Violence isn't something that we need to erase from human behavior because we actually need it -- especially on a personal level where it is most in danger of being sterilized from our lives (already it is only an appropriate response in our popular mythology). Violence is something we need to control and embrace and realize is part of who we are as humans. Violence is essential to both men and women. Violence is an integral part of our humanity.Violence of the kind Peekay engages in against Botha serves several purposes: it is defensive; it is purifying; it is redemptive; it is responsible; it is empowering; and it is healing.Many find themselves supporting Peekay's actions without a second thought. But were a similar situation to play out in our North American reality, Peekay would find himself going to prison for a very long time, and most would agree that while he was defending himself at first, Peekay took things too far and deserves to be punished. Amongst its many concerns, The Power of One tells us that we need to reconsider our personal relationship with violence. It reminds us that we need to keep violence as a tool of our own, rather than passing it off as a tool for our governments, our armies, or any other persecutors who may use it against us. And so long as we use violence "first with our head, then with our heart" it can lead to positive change. Even if we never use violence ourselves, however, even if we only admit that we are violent animals who need violence as deeply as we need love making or tenderness, even if all we do is recognize its place in our human natures, we can start to overcome things that before we simply let overcome us.

  • Jane Yates
    2019-05-12 21:14

    Review of Audio book, The Power of One written by Bryce Courtenay, Narrated by Humphrey Bower.This has been both a Hard and Easy review to write. The Power of one is a wonderful autobiographical novel which has been made into a fantastic audio book. Astonishingly this was Bryce Courtenay debut novel. Humphrey Bower is both experienced and gifted narrator and the perfect pick as he is able to pull off a convincing South African accent. Hard to write up as it has so many powerful, tender and tantalising elements and so it would take too long to list them because they all hold real and cultural relevance. As with all good books which have a strong human element, each reader draws from their own life experiences to relate with the story. The richness of the main character PK whose we meet at a tender age and go on to experience though his thoughts, all his life with its joy, muddles and harshness. The story is set against the dramatic back drop of Africa at a historically rich time. The wealth of this very personal and at time humorous while being startling graphic book, will have something in it that will not fail to touch even the hardest of hearts. As for myself the telling of the bond of friendship between the five year old PK and his chicken, Grandpa Chuck, hit the most me with stiff resonance. This was because I was midway through the audio book at the time I had heard about my dear old springer spaniel Mandy, fatal illness. Bryce writes superbly throughout the book but this connection with his unusual animal friend, the love and respected trust with his chicken hit me the hardest because of my best friend Mandy. PK’s other friendships of the human kind were each different and thought provoking and described in skilful detail, that I felt as if I had had known, loved, grieved or feared them. As each of them where introduced into the thick of the story and at times had left, sometimes abruptly! I was span though a range of emotions, catching my breath with sadness, peace or fear. It would be hard to pick out the best of them as they are all best! Even the baddies as they made the goodies appear more courageous and strong hearted, and so the story would not have been the same without them. Easy to praise this audio book as not only the writing of this story is superb but the narration by Humphy Bower, who’s expressive warm voice transcends the normal narrator with his rich repertoire he narrates the characters with a ‘pull all the stops out’ experience. The sheer spender at which he brings to life the delicacy and rawness of each of the marvellously complete characters and soulfully describes breathtakingly beautiful scenery with jaw dropping emphasis.So much of the landscape of Africa is written about and from so many viewpoints. I knew it was a hot climate but I learned of the coolness and darkness of the night. I was surprised by differing landscapes, the cactus garden, rose garden and magical crystal cave, which were described and narrated so colourfully and bountifully that I could see them in full spender when I closed my eyes. In this book the landscape of the peoples of Africa where explored and described, with a strong emphasis showing how important music and the connection to their land was. PK the hero of the book is a true hero a fighter who yearned for knowledge but was not mean spirited and keenly shared with all.This book was a humbling experience. As a writer myself I became completely in ore of Bryce’s skill whose writing talent is pure genus. What a travel! What an adventure! And all without leaving my small flat and from the safety of my sofa with my best friend Mandy sat by me! What a gift this book is!I whole heartily recommend it. 5 starsThe Power of One Audible – Unabridged can be bought hereBryce Courtenay (Author), Humphrey Bower (Narrator), Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd if you sign up though your local library (UK only) can be borrowed free here

  • Dan
    2019-04-30 22:28

    The Power of One is a semi-auto biographical coming of age story set in South Africa during the 1940’s.PK is an English boy who endures a great deal of abuse from the Boer children, some of whom are Nazi sympathizers until he is taught to box. He is an exceptional student who later befriends Doc, a German professor who is a great pianist but who is confined to the local prison for the duration of the war. The professor teaches PK many valuable life lessons including the piano but boxing and excelling at schoolwork remain his true passions. This is a great novel for the first 2/3 of the book essentially covering the period when PK is age 5 to 12. PK is the ultimate underdog throughout the first half. He becomes a local boxing champion and always displays a great deal of humanity towards Zulus and seemingly anyone who is not part of the power structure in those awful conditions that made up Apartheid. Returning home from boarding school to live with his grandpa and mother, PK first meets and later visits Doc at the prison when he is incarcerated. PK knows three languages which is uncommon even for adults. With the help of the professor and Geel Piet, a Zulu prisoner with a huge heart, PK helps smuggle letters in and out of the local prison. Along with his boxing prowess he becomes a real hero to the prisoners. This does not escape the notice of some of the racist guards although they don’t suspect PK, one guard does suspect a clandestine activity. There are incidents that follow that are quite sad and I won’t spoil but rest assured the incidents are masterfully told. The last 1/3 of the book covered PKs teenage years into young adulthood and for me were not as interesting. The child like innocence and wonder were gone after age twelve and the end of WWII. I think the story would have been perfect if he had ended there. Bryce Courtenay, the author, was a truly gifted writer and there are some truly beautiful passages in this novel and many valuable life lessons.I probably learned more about South Africa from this novel than any history book on Apartheid or the Boer War that I ever read.“First with your head, then with your heart PK”

  • David
    2019-05-22 17:28

    This is one of the most important books I have ever read. The reader really gets pulled into the life of PK, experiencing his trials and successes. There are some great laugh out loud moments, such as during his train ride with Big Hettie, and when Granpa Chook decides to express his opinion of The Judge and his Nazi party (though the surrounded circumstance is sad and grim). There are also some very dark times in his life, but these serve to prove the triumph of the human spirit and so are a valuable part of the story. One of the lessons I took away from the book was the value in accepting people how they are, no matter if their beliefs or behavior aligns with what you perceive as right or wrong. You can stay true to yourself and be kind to others without changing them.

  • craige
    2019-05-09 17:27

    I firmly believe that a book or a movie can be about absolutely anything as long as its well written. There are a few sports movies out there that I have enjoyed, that I got wrapped up in, all because what they were really were was just good stories. This is a book like that. If you do happen to read the back cover, you will learn that the book is about boxing, but it's hardly just about boxing. Saying The Power of One is only about boxing is like saying doing well in school is only about showing up to class. Well, bad analogy, but you get my point. The book starts off with the main character, whose real name you never learn, heading off to boarding school at 5 years old. Although it's told from his point of view, the story is not at all childish because Peekay is wise beyond his years. (Peekay is the name he chooses for himself after he is called Pisskop, which means "pisshead." I never did quite understand why he chose a name based on that insult, but he carries his new name proudly.) The book is overly sentimental at times, but is so well written that that is easily forgiven. Bad things happen to Peekay, but the reader quickly realizes that all will work out in the end. The question is how. The book is so beautifully written that the rather basic story line of a poor kid with a big dream fighting his way to the top by staying honest becomes a truly unique tale that will stay with you long after you've put the book down.Highly recommended.

  • Brandice
    2019-04-25 16:02

    The Power of One is at its simplest, a story of self-reliance and perseverance in times of hardship and struggle. The story follows Peekay from childhood through his young adult years, including his schooling, his pursuit of boxing, and his odd collection of enemies, friends, mentors and teachers. The book is long, and it took me quite a long time to get into the story. It was a commitment, particularly because I found the pace of the story to be slow and full of (somewhat unnecessary) detail early on, but once I did finally get into it, The Power of One was quite good. "Ahead of me lay the dreaded Mevrou, the Judge and the jury, and the beginning of the power of one - how I learned that in each of us there burns a flame of independence that must never be allowed to go out. That as long as it exists within us we cannot be destroyed."

  • ✨Susan✨
    2019-04-27 16:10

    An absolutely wonderful read with amazing characters. South African historical fiction. Highly recommended.

  • Maria
    2019-05-23 22:07

    I've read this book three times and each time it's as good as the previous read, if not better. A semi-autobiographical novel, Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One is set in South Africa immediately before, during and after WWII. The novel's protagonist is Peekay - just Peekay - who is, in all respects, a remarkable young man. The story begins when Peekay is 5 years old and ends when he is 17, but the 12 years covered are formative; although we don't know what lies in store for Peekay by the end of the book, we know he will carry the experiences of his boyhood with him for the rest of his life.Young Peekay is a white child of British heritage growing up in South Africa after the British absorbed the Boer republics into the British Empire in the early 1900s after winning the second Anglo-Boer War. The Boers, who speak Afrikaans, and the British, who speak English, spend a lot time looking down on each other, both both group look down on black South Africans, who speak many languages. Peekay learns to speak all the languages, which of course is symbolic of his uncommon ability to find a way to relate to and communicate effectively with so many other human beings throughout the book. He is treated horribly at times but somehow manages to meet some extraordinary people who help him in his endeavor to grow up. The rich character development is my favorite aspect of this novel.This third time around I listened to the audiobook and it is a great listen. The narrator is excellent (even if his pace was a tad slow), and it was very helpful to hear all of the African and Boer names and vocabulary words pronounced properly. I recommend this book often, even to young adults since Peekay spends a good portion of the novel between the ages of 10 and 17, and even to men since there are very masculine themes, and it is universally admired. All my book clubs at the library just read it and loved it (despite being longer than a usual book club pick).

  • Suzanne
    2019-05-08 18:06

    Review to follow. Can’t believe I have only read two of his books.

  • Mason Wiebe
    2019-05-02 21:06

    At least 3 people I know have told me that this is their favorite book, so I just had to give it a read. It is really, really good. The book follows a young man, Peekay, as he grows up in South Africa in the 30s and 40s. He meets a series of very influential adults and is constantly being shaped by them and also by his many differing experiences growing up. The one theme that stays true throughout is his desire to become the welterweight boxing champion of the world. This is the kind of book that you find yourself not wanting to put down and you miss it when you aren’t reading it. I definitely recommend this book to anyone at all. While I won’t list it as my favorite, it is definitely one of my favorites.“Always listen to yourself. It is better to be wrong than to simply follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you will grow stronger. If you are right, you have taken another step towards a fulfilling life.”“…God is too busy making the sun come up and go down and watching so the moon floats just right in the sky to be concerned with such rubbish. Only man wants always God should be there to condemn this one and save that one. Always it is man who wants to make heaven and hell. God is too busy training the bees to make honey and every morning opening up all the new flowers for business… In Mexico there is a cactus that even sometimes you would think God forgets. But no, my friend, this is not so. On a full moon in the desert every one hundred years he remembers and he opens up a single flower to bloom. And if you should be there and you see this beautiful cactus blossom painted silver by the moon and laughing up at the stars, this is heaven…This is the faith in God the cactus has… It is better just to get on with the business of living and minding your own business and maybe, if God likes the way you do things, he may just let you flower for a day or a night. But don’t go pestering and begging and telling him all your stupid little sins, that way you will spoil his day.”“…in this world are very few things made from logic alone. It is illogical for a man to be too logical. Some things we must just let stand. The mystery is more important than any possible explanation. The searcher after truth must search with humanity. Ruthless logic is the sign of a limited mind. The truth can only add to the sum of what you know, while a harmless mystery left unexplored often adds to the meaning of life. When a truth is not so important, it is better left as a mystery.”“The mind is the athlete; the body is simply the means it uses to run faster or longer, jump higher, shoot straighter, kick better, swim harder, hit further, or box better. “First with the head and then with the heart” was more than simply mixing brains with guts. It meant thinking well beyond the powers of normal concentration and then daring your courage to follow your thoughts.”

  • Judy
    2019-05-02 22:18

    I found this book to be a mixed bag. For example, I loved the story of the main character's relationships with others, particularly with an old German professor who helps to shape his mind. However, I got bored with the focus on boxing, something I have no interest in but which permeated every aspect of the story. I thought the treatment of racial and cultural issues was excellent, especially the insights into struggles among the Boers, Afrikaners, and English settlers. On the other hand, I got tired of the story itself, which had five or six climaxes and denouments. I thought the author's treatment of South African nationalism was very good, and it helped me understand later issues of apartheid and Mandela. On the other hand, I really disliked the end, in which the main character finally gets revenge on a man who had tormented him when he was five years old. I wanted him to find redemption through his power to forgive rather than through the power of his fists. The narrator of the audiobook (which is how I "read" it)has a wonderful Australian accent and is very expressive, but reading this in print form might give you the chance to skip over the endless boxing scenes.

  • Jessica
    2019-05-05 00:12

    I thoroughly enjoyed many elements of this book, and I learned a tremendous amount about boxing and the history of South Africa, through a child's eye view. However, my opinion took a downward plunge toward the end of the book -- specifically the final 5 pages of the book. I don't want to include any spoilers, but what on earth was the author thinking?!? I interpreted the book's message so differently from what is depicted in the final scene. Perhaps I owe the author a second reading. STRANGE!!!Update:Just downgraded my review from 3 to 2 stars. The more I think about the story and try to derive meaning from it, the madder I get!

  • Lena♥Ribka
    2019-05-06 19:21

    AudibleI came across Bryce Courtenay through the narrator. I was such impressed by Humphrey Bower performance in Shantaram that I immediately started to look for his other works after I had finished it. It is a fate. Now I'm looking forward to reading more by Bryce Courtenay, because his books are exactly the kind of a life story I am seeking for.The Power of One takes place in South Africa and covers the period of time from the early 1930s up to the late 1940s, the birth of apartheid. It tells a touching and a moving life story of Peekay, an English boy, beautifully written and with a great insight into the cultural background of the country, and a lot of love to the people and the continent itself. Excellent character development and a very strong story-line. Despite my loving of Humphrey Bower narration and his astonishing skills to present all kind of dialects/accents in different voices, I have contradicted feelings about his narrating here. My own fault though. I shouldn't have picked up this audiobook immediately after Shantaram, too strong were the connection of Humphrey Bower to Lin (Shantaram). Lin narrating a five year old boy took some time for me to get used to it.Reading Challenge 2017 - 26. A book by an author from a country you've never visited. (South Africa)

  • Megan Baxter
    2019-05-11 21:27

    When did this book sneak up on me? It's a story of a prodigy - mentally, physically, in geology, botany, boxing, gambling, chess, in pretty much anything but music, where he's merely competent. Bryce Courtenay's hero should irritate the hell out of me. And yet somehow he doesn't. It's also the story of how a white boy becomes a symbol of power for black South Africans. I'm a little uncomfortable with that, and yet, it's handled as well as such things can be. Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.In the meantime, you can read the entire review at Smorgasbook

  • Sarah
    2019-05-10 21:31

    I wasn't sure whether I would like this book since all I knew was that it was about boxing which I am not a big fan of, but a girl had told me this was her favorite book so I thought I would give it a try. I loved it. In some ways it is a fasinating look at South Africas devastating history, but the protagonist's innocent perspective just draws you into his story. The characters in the story are what really make it great, Peekay's mentors, friends and even the evil adversaries he has to overcome. Even if you know nothing about boxing, the fight scenes are written in an accesible way anyone can picture and enjoy. I recommend this book to anyone who if you would enjoy a bildungsroman about having a dream and not ever giving it up...

  • Sarah Anne
    2019-04-23 18:21

    This was a curious book because I never really knew which direction it was headed in. You would think Peekay was headed in one direction and then things would change. It was also a wonderful book and I had tears of joy and victory in my eyes more than once. The narrator was beyond brilliant. Peekay often made comments in a very dry way and the narrator really added some expression to these parts. He was wonderful and even if I listened to him in a dozen books I would always associate him with this one.My personal favorite of the humorous bits was the discussion over "His house has many mansions". In that case Peekay didn't seem to be intentionally being humorous so much as trying to make sense of things. It was still funny.

  • Prairie78
    2019-05-09 19:13

    God help me, I'll never finish this book. I'm drowning in uninspired writing. Ok, I finished it. This was truly one of the most laborious reads I've had in quite a while. Suffice it to say I thought I'd never climb my way out to read another book again in my life. The writing style isn't difficult--it's not that that made it painful to get through. It's just a terribly written book with terribly boring, stock characters who go around doing terribly improbable things that evoke not one ounce of feeling from me because I'm making "blah blah blah" noises. Sweet merciful Jesus.

  • Kathy
    2019-05-11 19:11

    This is the story of Peekay, a young boy growing up in South Africa before, during, and after World War II, and the good people he met along his way to becoming the welterwieght boxing champion of the world. The memorable characters included (among many) Giel Peet, an imprisoned black man who taught Peekay to box; Doc, a gentle 6'7" German professor who taught Peekay to love nature and music and books; and, Miss Boorstein, a brilliant Jewish teacher who fostered Peekay's intellectual genius through her guidance and tutoring.I learned many things in this book- the complex art of boxing, how bad and inhumane apartheid is, and how much more I might have accomplished if I had grown up in an era where there was no television or other distractions. I know I would have read more and practised that piano more and given of myself more as well. I also find myself wishing for those mentors like Peekay's who saw the great promise he had and gently guided him to his full potential. Through this book I also learned to appreciate the idea of the "voice" of the writer. The book began when Peekay was about five and ended when he was about 18. Along the way his words slowly matured and changed from that of a young child to that of an educated young man. Finally, I had no idea how bad apartheid is. I had heard talk of it, but did not really understand the indignities the colored race suffered in South Africa at the hand of the ruling white race. Racism is bad and I think we are to fight it wherever and whenever we encounter it or at least try to help our fellow man like Peekay did.

  • Chrissie
    2019-05-21 20:19

    I thought the book could have been tightened, better edited and shortened. I was not that interested in the boxing….. The ending (view spoiler)[, with Peekay’s old childhood enemy “The Judge” being the man he worked with in the copper mines, (hide spoiler)] seemed contrived; it felt like the neat ending was too nicely tied up. It felt fictional, although the novel is supposed to be autobiographical. I would have appreciated an author’s note that explained what was fictional and what was fact. Nevertheless it is not a bad read, and the audiobook, narrated by Humphrey Bower was excellently performed. The various characters were each marvelously distinct. I enjoyed learning about the racial inequalities that existed even before the Apartheid ever came into existence in South Africa, copper mining in Rhodesia and cacti. I have met “characters” which I fervently hope are real people – Doc and boxer “Hoppy Rundevald” (spelling questionable) and Geel Piet and Miss Boorstein. Actually, I came to like these people so much more than Peekay! No, it is not a bad book, but I expected more given all the rave reviews I have read.

  • Dena
    2019-05-16 17:08

    I just finished reading this book for a summer assignment, and I have to say that I would rather have read the telephone book. At least the telephone book doesn't have characters so annoying that I throw it against a wall.My main issue with this book was the main character. He goes through the whole book with a 'poor me, I'm such a suffering soul' mentality which really makes no sense. He speaks almost as many languages as I have fingers on one hand (including a bit of Latin, which I've heard is very hard to learn), he instantly befriends almost everyone, and he's practically a genius. Oh, and he's been an amazing boxer since he was a child.The author tries to interject some interest in the plot, but fails completely because it's so obvious that whatever challenges the main character (who doesn't seem to have a real name, only a nickname. I assume the author had a purpose in doing this, but what it is I can't guess) faces, he will overcome them quickly and easily; and then complain about it for the rest of the chapter.