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The Power of One [Paperback]

Bryce Courtenay
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
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Book Description

27 Sep 2007

First with your head and then with your heart ...

So says Hoppie Groenewald, boxing champion, to a seven-year-old boy who dreams of being the welterweight champion of the world. For the young Peekay, its a piece of advice he will carry with him throughout his life.

Born in a South Africa divided by racism and hatred, this one small boy will come to lead all the tribes of Africa. Through enduring friendships with Hymie and Gideon, Peekay gains the strength he needs to win out. And in a final conflict with his childhood enemy, the Judge, Peekay will fight to the death for justice.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 640 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin (27 Sep 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143004557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143004554
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (53 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 28,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Bryce Courtenay was born in South Africa and has lived in Sydney for the major part of his life. He is the bestselling author of The Power of One, April Fool's Day, The Potato Factory, Tommo & Hawk, Jessica, Solomon's Song, Smoky Joe's Cafe, Four Fires, Whitethorn, and Brother Fish.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Spirit of Africa 2 April 2008
I just loved the whole feel of the African Continent that is hovering barely below the surface of this book. I felt the superstitious beliefs of the people that led them to adopt a small boy as a tribal chief and follow his boxing prowess throughout the years.

We meet Peekay at the age of 5 when his mother is admitted to hospital after a breakdown and he is sent to boarding school. As the youngest by 2 years and the only Rooineck (British South African), he gets a really rough time, but it paves the way for the person he is to become. He becomes adept at blending into the background and begins his life search for 'the power of one' - the strength that keeps him one step ahead of his tormentors and results in a fierce determination to learn to box.
As we follow him through his school years he meets some very unusual and influential people, all of whom help to map his character and develop him into a rather unbelievable yet charismatic all-rounder.
I would have dropped a point for these super-man qualities, but the book was a gem in spite of this.

I would never have read this if it hadn't been chosen as a (rather long!) book group read and I am so pleased I did. At the end I felt there was need for a sequel and it seems that one was written. Tandia is the story of an African woman who meets Peekay after he leaves us in the copper mines. At 920 pages it's a huge tome, but I'll certainly keep my eyes open for it.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beautiful, Terrifying, Compelling. 29 Feb 2008
In 1992 I watched a film from the director of Rocky. It was OK, a bit of a mixed bag. Some years later I discovered that it was actually based on a book and almost a decade later I finally got around to buying a copy and reading it.

Let me say that The Power of One is not for the faint hearted. There are various scenes early on that are very disturbing but necessary and character driven. We see South Africa through the eyes of P.K., a young fatherless English South African (as opposed to Afrikaans) from his troubled beginnings at school, through his teens and then to young adulthood (all the while watching him realise his passions of education and boxing).

Characters in the book are well written and memorable, the surrogate father figure of Doc, the dignified Geel Piet and the odious Botha. As beautiful and at times as terrifying as the history of South Africa itself, The Power of One is essential reading. You wont forget it.

The story continues in the novel Tandia.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book 11 Nov 2010
This is one of the most powerful books that I have read in recent years - I would give it ten stars if I could.

I loved the feel and the smell of Africa that comes through on every page. I loved the character of Peekay and also the characters of Hoppie, Doc and all the others who come into Peekay's life, helping him to gain his view of the world and to climb his own personal mountain.

I really wanted to know that this was based on real experience - so I'm delighted to discover that there is a strong autobiographical element to the book. Bryce Courtenay grew up in South Africa and had some experiences similar to Peekay. Peekay is, however, larger than life.

The feeling that I have on reaching the end of the book is that of being very humbled. The story is dense with down-to-earth wisdom and insights of sufficient brilliance that make you want to stop for a moment in order to digest this new perspective. And the story itself is one that you want to keep hearing.

I think that everyone should read this book.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I have ever read 29 Jun 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
One of the best books I have ever read, if not THE best.
It's beautifully written. I was hooked by page 3. There is nothing quite like not being able to put down and I certainly got that from this book.
Sometimes if a book is spirally towards a huge climax I get impatient and speed read. With this wonderful story, as well as being gripped, I am in no rush and I am savouring every word, really enjoying the characters that Peekay meets throughout his life, each of whom are shaping his future.
I am now going to read a lot more of Bryce Courtenay's works as his is a wonderful writer.
I can't recommend this book highly enough.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Suitable for teenagers to adults, this story forces you to question how aware you are of your current social and political circumstances. The story tells of a child growing up in a land rife with ethnic diversity, meeting many mentors along the way. The guidance they provide, combined with his childlike innocence make for a virtuous tale that you will not be able to put down.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful, moving book. 4 May 2011
I read this book for the first time aged 15, and to this day it is still the only book that has ever made me cry. A wonderfully moving story about the journey of Peekay through childhood that gives you a unique snapshot of South Africa during the middle of the last century.

I can give it no higher accolade than to say that I reread this book every couple of years, and it just gets better and better. I can also highly recommend the other books in the series.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
This book was reccomended to me by quite a few different people- without me mentioning it, which I took to mean that it would be quite a good book. So I read it. To say that I had to force myself to read the fist 100 hundred pages would not quite be true. The horror of what I was reading was almost over ruled by that strange human quality of needing to know what happens after- does it all end in happiness. And obviously the answer to that is- in some ways, but in many ways no. This book is moving, emotional, unexpected, well planned, very insightful. A boy growing up, a journey through his childhood, through the good and the bad. There are so many wonderful descriptions of human interactions. Courtenay must be a wonderful expert in human relationships. The most touching bit, for me, was when Peekay realises that racism is an evil disease sent to ruin good men. But obviously Courtenay puts it much better than that. I think the world could be a much beter place if everybody read this book.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Probably my all time favourite book.
Published 2 days ago by Nina Lees
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply love it
Brilliant as I am a South African I found it hilarious with all the Afrikaans words.
Great reading.
Published 20 days ago by BOB GASNOLA
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 20 days ago by Nan Colquhoun
5.0 out of 5 stars Wow! What a book.
I don't read books with violence in them. This one has violence a plenty, and I loved it. Others have written so well about this book's synopsis, I don't need to add to... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mrs. Claire Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars THE POWER OF ONE
One of the best books I have read,Just could not put it down.We need more good literature like this.Bryce Courtenay is one of the best authors of today.
Published 2 months ago by A.Knight
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbeliveably good
One of the best books I've ever read. Even named my dog after Peekay. It's really really good - well worth reading.
Published 3 months ago by M. Price
5.0 out of 5 stars a great gift
Bought this book as a birthday present for my aunt who had read Tandia, she was delighted and started reading it as soon as she could.
She really enjoyed reading it.
Published 4 months ago by katharine chilcott
5.0 out of 5 stars Love this book
I read this book about 7 years ago and remembered it so vividly and enjoying it so much that when searching for a book for my adult son, I decided this was a good choice
Published 4 months ago by P. Griffin
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best I have ever read
Blown away by the magnificent writing, amazing and compelling story, beautiful description of landscape and depth of insight into the characters.
Published 5 months ago by Matty
5.0 out of 5 stars A truly powerful book
The Power of One is a book that deepens your understanding of human nature. It examines the complexity of prejudice, growing up, friendship in a fabulous feast of storytelling. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Lynda-Tracy
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