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Publisher's Summary

Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2004, Wangari Maathai has been fighting for environmental responsibility and democracy in her native Kenya for over 35 years. Unbowed recounts the incredible journey that culminated in her appointment to Parliament in 2002.

Despite repeated jailings, beatings, and other obstacles along the way, Maathai created the Green Belt Movement and never relented in her goal to bring democracy to Kenya.

©2006 Wangari Muta Maathai; (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

"Wangari Maathai's memoir is direct, honest, and beautifully written - a gripping account of modern Africa's trials and triumphs, a universal story of courage, persistence, and success against great odds in a noble cause." (Bill Clinton)

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Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
  • Peter
  • San Francisco, CA, United States
  • 06-29-11

Amazing story of this woman, but missing something

Maathai's story is an amazing one, showing her resilience in the face of a horrible Kenyan government trying to silence the democratic and environmental aspirations of her and others. I can not imagine the arrests, beatings, and humiliations this woman went through, and kept fighting for what she knew was right.

But this is a review of her memoir, not of her. While her actions were amazing, I feel the book ended up lacking something. After some reflection, I feel my disappointment in the book is due to her inability to admit a single mistake in her life. She describes her simple beginnings and struggles, and doesn't appear arrogant, but all her decisions and actions were apparently perfect, because she never looks back critically and admits a personal mistake. This is unfortunate, because I think great people who show their personal failings are so much more admirable, sympathetic, and an example of virtue.

Mistakes are human and inevitable. If she can't admit to any, then her memoir is not being truthful, and I end up questioning the accuracy of the rest of it. Examples: she drove to her ex-husband's house, dropped their kids in his driveway without any notice or communication, then drove off and left the country for a year. Does that sound like good behavior? She insists she was trying to bring her ex-husband and children closer together, but it sure doesn't sound like virtuous behavior to me. She claims she ran for president of Kenya to "bring together the opposition candidates", yet when the election occurred, she did not join any other candidate or lend her support to anyone else, and therefore just divided the opposition even more. The repressive dictator ended up winning again, to everyone's disappointment. Again, she doesn't recognize any personal mistake here, where I see a pretty obvious one.

I recommend the book for historical and personal information, but I caution that it might not leave you as motivated as you'd expect.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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Mississippi State's Freshman "READ"

Would you consider the audio edition of Unbowed to be better than the print version?

Didn't "read" a hard copy (I love my Kindle and listening to books), but the clearly female African voice made the book that much more conversational.

What does Chinasa Ogbuagu bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

As noted above, the realism of the reader's voice makes the story much more personal.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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The life and mind of an African heroine

What did you love best about Unbowed?

In this book, Wangari Maathai tells her story in broad strokes and stands still at the things that she finds beautiful, memorable, or important to impress upon her readers. <br/><br/>She comes across as quite a task-driven creature and she clearly set out to tell her story, not write a work of literary genius. It is her perspective and her remarkable way of drawing connections between her personal story and matters of importance to Kenya and Africa as a whole, that is so memorable.

Which scene was your favorite?

There are many moments in this story that will stay with me for a long time. Without giving too many spoilers, she is particularly good at painting the rural landscape in which she grew up, including the people that populated that landscape, and giving you a renewed appreciation for the trees that Africans have cared for for generations.

Any additional comments?

The reader reads very slowly and clearly, so it is easy to follow. The narration felt a tiny bit mechanistic at times, but this does not significantly detract from the experience.<br/><br/>This book is well worth it. It will in equal parts educate you, inspire you and urge you to live with conviction.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Great Listen for Earth Day

Beautifully narrated story. Gives one insight into the politics of Kenya and the power of a single person to affect change

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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UGH......HORRIBLE TO ATTEMPT TO LISTEN TO!!!

What disappointed you about Unbowed?

the story, the reader, and inability to understand what she was reading at times!<br/>TOO HEAVY OF AN ACCENT -- should come with a warning!!!!

How did the narrator detract from the book?

Her Afrikaner strong accent. It made the book MISERABLE to listen to!<br/>I would like my money back!

Any additional comments?

HOW DO WE GET REFUNDS FOR HORRIBLE BOOKS????

0 of 4 people found this review helpful