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4.7 out of 5 stars111
4.7 out of 5 stars
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VINE VOICEon 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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on 29 February 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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on 30 November 2007
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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on 29 June 2010
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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on 12 May 2009
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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on 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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on 11 November 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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on 5 October 2009
I have read The Power of One several times, and have passed it on to both my children, who loved it as well. Being South African, and having grown up in the disturbing times around which the book is centred,I can truly say that the story is an honest "no holds barred" portrayal of the good and bad that existed in all spheres of society, the complexity as well as simplicity of the relationships created by the system, and by the very diverse nature of South African society. The characters are drawn so beautifully, and young Peekay makes us believe that courage, honesty and compassion can exist - against all odds! This is Bryce Courtenay at his best.
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on 7 December 2010
Bryce Courtney is one of my favourite authors and this is my favourite book of his. The sequel Tandia is as good too. I have bought this book for a present for many people and the feed back from them was just as good.
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on 21 January 2015
This book is a South African classic which deserves to be better known. The reader is immediately immersed in the world of a small boy growing up in a politically divided society, and trying to make sense of his culture and his own place within it. The hero ultimately becomes a bit too perfect for my liking but the childhood scenes are beautifully realised, and the moral lessons he learns, like those in To Kill A Mockingbird, give an insight into the prejudice and hostilities of apartheid and its human consequences.
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