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Editorial Reviews

Why You Should Download This Audiobook: Good character dramas are best shared with others, like good wine on special occasions. Bryce Courtenay's wonderful story of a child coming of age in a country ripped apart by racism is such a vintage—rich and complex, an experience you'll want to talk about long after the last words are spoken.

Publisher's Summary

"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, it is 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.

©1989 Bryce Courtenay; (P)2000 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.6 out of 5.0
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Story

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  • Overall
  • Bob
  • Takoma Park, MD, United States
  • 05-14-09

Compelling story lifted higher by the narration

After several listens to books by Bryce Courtenay, it strikes me that this author's books, narrated by Humphrey Bower, represent something of the ideal in mainstream, audiobook fiction. The stories are vivid, well-plotted, with stirring story arcs. The narration is superb, with Bower handling a variety of accents and personalities and sexes in deft and entrancing form.
Yes, Peekay's accomplishments strain credulity. But only if you stop to add it up in a dispassionate accounting. Swept along by the story, it is not an issue. He is ruled by a genuine sense of humility that saves the day. The story is marked by great struggles to overcome injustices and stiff odds, some perhaps stereotyped villains and saints, but also nuanced and unique characters to balance it out.
There are two early significant characters that I expected might reappear. One, the 'good' one I thought surely should; the other, the 'bad' I thought could. Only one did reappear and it was the latter. I was surprised it was not both. This is not the kind of story to worry too much about convenient twists and turns.
The German character Doc is wonderful, especially the way that Bowers brings him to life. I never tired of his superlative 'absodoodle'. On occasion it brought tears to my eyes. Of all the audiobooks I have listened to in the past ten years, only the Courtenay/Bower combination has done that - and consistently.

69 of 69 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Outstanding

I have been an audible customer for years and listened to hundreds of books. None touched me like this one. This is my first Courtenay book and I've since bought up all his books. The narrator is wonderful in bringing the characters to life. I didn't want the story to end. In fact, I hope these's a sequel in the works.

43 of 43 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Read it many years ago and never forgot it!

I read this book many, many years ago when it was first published; I never forgot this book. It was one of the most powerful books I had ever read. When I saw the title on Audible, I ordered it...listened and loved the story all over again. I had not realized there was a sequel, Tandia, so I ordered that also. These books will stay with you forever. I have now listened, through Audible, to everything Bryce Courtenay wrote. Humphrey Bower narrates every novel of Courtenay and he is, by far, the best narrator I have ever heard!
The Power of One is inspirational and so is its sequel. These books empower all who read or listen to become better human beings. That is the highest praise I could offer.
I recommend all of the Bryce Courtenay books Audible carries...are there any more?

38 of 38 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Superb Reading

Others have praised this praise-worthy novel. I wish to call attention to Humphrey Bower's reading. It really is superb. He captures a variety of accents and voices, and always with the right emotion. He pronounces words native to Zulu, Africaans, German, Latin and English without missing a beat. This triumph of a book deserved an equally good reader, and it got it in Bower.

25 of 25 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Pleasantly Surprised

I was looking for books related to boxing, and ran across this one. With a name like "The Power of One" I was afraid this was going to be a sappy, motivational tale ala "The Peaceful Warrior". After reading several favorable reviews however, I decided to give it a shot. First off, the narrator is superb, and, at least to an American who doesn't know any South Africans, seemed to capture the varied dialects of South Africa wonderfully. The story itself doesn't fall into the trap of attempting to be inspirational, and has enough grit and action to keep things interesting.

My only complaint would be that the protagonist and some of the "good guys" he meets along the way are a bit, as the author states in the introduction, "larger than life". They make very few errors and primarily make almost unbelievably modern moral decisions in a largely immoral society. But there is enough depth in the characters to keep things interesting.

20 of 20 people found this review helpful

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ABSOLOODLE

FIRST WITH THE HEAD, THEN WITH THE HEART
This is a great book that should appeal to several different people. The first reason it will appeal to most is that fact that it is so well written. I am Jim, The Impatient, but I listened to all 21+ hours. It is a coming of age story, history of South Africa, history with references to Hitler and it has lots of boxing. Not knowing that much about South Africa, I felt I learned much. I got some of the perspective of how the Germans felt about the English before the War and I learned about APARTHEID.

EVERYONE IS AN ISLAND AND AT THE SAME TIME, ROBINSON CRUSOE.
Peekay, starts life out fairly rough. He is sent to border school at the age of five. He is the youngest there. A bully makes a habit of picking on him right from the start. Some of the torture this small boy goes through can be hard to take. To help him through it, he has a pet rooster. The first person to really treat Peekay with any kindness is a boxer. Peekay watches this man fight early on and this changes his life. For the rest of his life, his goal is to become welter weight champion of the world. Peekay's tough childhood and the kindness of the boxer, strengthen him and establishes his character. The strength of his character and they strong friendships he makes is the rest of the book. It is all very intelligently written and entertaining.

THE PRESUMPTION OF THE WHITE MAN KNOWS NO BOUNDS IN AFRICA.
This is a real good story on how the blacks where treated at this time. This alone makes the book valuable. Peekay makes friends with several blacks and becomes a hero to the people. I will agree with another reviewer and it did bother me and that is, what a shame that we have a white man hero. I would like to read a book where a black man becomes a hero. The statement of The Presumption of the white man also reminded me of a time in my childhood. When I was in fourth grade I knew nothing about South Africa, then a girl moved to our town from South Africa. One day she showed beautiful pictures of the country and talked about South Africa. She mentioned something about the crime and the worry of blacks raping whites. Only knowing what I had seen on tv about Africa and thinking of all of Africa as one country, I asked about all the naked black women. She commented to me "Everybody knows white flesh is more desirable then black flesh." She said it like I was an idiot. WE ARE OF THE EARTH, THAT IS WHY WE ARE THE COLOR OF THE EARTH.

SHAKE A PAW
The narrator is good and makes the listening better then the reading.

14 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • connie
  • Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
  • 10-18-08

a couple of reservations

This was a great story with excellent narration. I had a paper copy for years but did not get past the first few chapters - the audio version I crammed into every free moment over four days.

I enjoyed it even though "coming of age stories" are not my usual picks and I abhor boxing (several matches are described in detail).My main motivation for reading "Power of One" was its presentation of historical background to racial strife in S. Africa. That aspect is very well done in one sense, but in another sense , it is just one more tale of a white man hero among the Black masses, and I wonder how Black South Africans evaluate the book. The author's self-deprecating introduction to the audiobook mitigates this "great white hero" aspect, though, as he explains that he wrote the novel as a exercise to learn the craft of writing and hadn't planned to submit the manuscript. In the process he expanded the "power" of the PK character, who is based on the author. Despite my criticism, I'm very glad he did publish, and I will download more of his work and read up on his life.

27 of 28 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

11 out of 10, Absolutal Vunderbar!

Amazing story of a boy's growing up in circa WWII South Africa. The remarkable characters he meets along the way and his remarkable response to them and the events of his life will stay with me my entire life.

When I read the reviews, deciding on whether to make this choice or not, I was hesitant. More often than not, narrowly reviewed titles on Audible with overwhelmingly positive reviews are indicative of a nearly cult-like philosophy. I took the plunge, and am delighted. No particular view is espoused or eschewed. The author is merely a fantastic storyteller. I will be coming back to him again.

The length of this novel is wonderful; I only wish the story could have gone on about 100 more hours. The narrator is top-notch as well. The title of this review is a bastardization of the German-English spoken by one of the central characters, Doc. As I am limited to only one language, I hope my comment is not too offensive.

26 of 27 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Excellent Story with a superb narrator

I bought this solely on the reviews of others and wasn't disappointed. My husband listened to it after me upon my persisting and despite the fact we rarely like the same books, he enjoyed it as much as I did. The narrator does an excellent job with the voices and accents and one of docs. phrases has become a bit of a family joke (we live in Germany). I listed to Brother Fish before discovering that Tandia is the sequel to The Power of One. Those books were also very enjoyable, but the Power of One is one of those special stories with characters that remain a part of you long after you've read or in this case heard the last page.

20 of 21 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

STOP! don't watch the movie.

Although I truly enjoyed the film (with the same title) it is the worst adaption of a book I have ever seen. Now I say this after watching the movie about a dozen or more times and not having read "heard" the book. If you enjoy movies and seek out the book versions like I do, this book will BLOW your mind!!!!!! This book is beyond the common trimuph over of adversity. Please take the time to enjoy this novel. It is even worth not waiting for credits to become aviable before you add it to your library.

41 of 44 people found this review helpful

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  • Overall
  • Sarah
  • 08-20-06

Fantastic reading of a great book

I first read this book when I was 20, some 16 years ago. It was a powerful read then and I have really enjoyed the excellent performance of the reader here, who brings the characters to life wonderfully. I have listened to hundrends of spoken books, and this is in my top five!

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Deborah
  • 04-03-09

The best book I've bought from Audible

I bought this book on the recommendation of my brother and I am so glad I did. It moved me to tears on several occasions and I became totally hooked and have spent the last few days with my iPod permanently attached! I'm only sad that I've finished it as I enjoyed it so much. The reader is brilliant and really gets the accents right. I can't wait now for my next book as I've decided to work my way through Bryce Courtenay's entire list. FANTASTIC!

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Al Jeavons
  • 11-30-16

what a Fantastic read.

This has been one of my all time favourite books. Will look out for more Bryce Courtenay books, through Audible. He is an amazing writer.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Nick (uglyducklin)
  • 02-26-14

To sum it up in one word: Brilliant

Would you listen to The Power of One again? Why?

I have the dvd,book but now kindle version (as people whom I lent the book to pinched it) and the audio version as it is a great story that gives you various emotions whilst watching/reading or listening to the story and this version is very well read that my wife keeps asking about my expression or why I am laughing. <br/>This is easily in my top 3 books and would certainly recommend you give it a try.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Peekay because his life is well written and you do really get into the character and wonder what is going to happen next.

What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

I like the expression in his voice as really brings some parts to live where as some other audio books just sound like its a computerised voice and boring.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

There are a few points but as I wouldn't like to spoil any part of the story I'll say there are a couple of moments I did laugh or others that did get me sad (sorry I love reading and really get into stories)

Any additional comments?

When I had the book, I had lent it to a number of people to try and each person enjoyed the book and one person so much they pinched it :( so I bought the kindle version and now tried audible and have this version.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Chris
  • 05-04-11

Awesome read

Fantastic read. I have really enjoyed this book. Narrator did the great job.
Recommend this book for Must buy!

10 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Jonathan Craig
  • 08-28-09

Serendipity

I came across this book because it had somehow been featured on the Religion and Spirituality page of Audible ? mistaken, I presume, for ?The Power of Now?. However some mistakes are serendipitous and having read the reviews I selected it, and I have to say it is one of the best audiobooks I have listened to. Superbly well read, constantly engaging ? I never found that my mind had wandered and I had to rewind ? and a cracking good story. My only complaint would be to observe that Peekay is a little too brilliant at everything he does to be entirely believable ? but heh, it is fiction after all...

I will certainly be listening to more from Bryce Courtenay!

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Rachel
  • 08-13-08

Life story

This is a life story, and although it is fiction, it's very believable, and is drawn from the authors experiences. I really enjoyed it, and it really gives a good view of South African culture in the mid 20th century. It's also a good read without the history if your not interested in that. Reader is great too.

7 of 9 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 01-14-17

Touching and engulfing.

What did you like most about The Power of One?

The strength, the sorrow, The Power of One!

Who was your favorite character and why?

Doc

What about Humphrey Bower’s performance did you like?

He feels the story, he tells the story, you believe the story

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yep

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • T
  • 10-09-14

decent page-turner, but over -rated

This is well narrated and its simple story-line makes it an easy listen in some respects. But the hero, apparently supposed to be based on the author's early life (?!), can do no wrong so any sense of reality is kept at arm's length. The emphasis of all the action is of the hero suffering and/or observing gross abuse ranging from vicious childhood bullying to aspects of living in the racist police state of South Africa (late 1930s - 1950s in this book). It was a scary place to live and some of the horrors are simply used as a vehicle for the hero's personal voyage and development, rather than giving any real insight. Not necessarily a bad thing for a piece of entertainment, but so much less than the book's many fans had led me to expect. A prolific author in his late years, for my taste he went on to write much better novels than this, his first and still best-known.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • Christine
  • 07-30-15

6 stars

I would give this book a 6 stars review, I don't have enough words to praise this book enough. The story is breathtaking, so well written, and the narration is just outstanding.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 12-10-17

An eternal Classic.

Love it. Read it when I was a young man and its still a great book. perfect for younger readers

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  • Helen
  • 09-17-17

the movie makes a mockery of this exquisite fable.

just beautiful. never has a story been more relevant and a message more needed. first with the head, then with the heart.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 08-19-17

Good book , excellent audiobook!

It was a very good story and with Humphrey Bower's outstanding performance I felt each scene.
After listening to The Potato Factory series, Humphrey's wonderful narration encouraged me to go through more audiobooks of Bryce Courtenay.

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  • TeBee
  • 07-18-17

One of my favourite books

Love the story puts me through all the emotions will continue to be my fav book have read it more times than I can remember but listening was better especially knowing the right pronouncements of the names and places in the book.
Onoshobishobi Ingelosi!!!

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  • Rachel
  • 06-20-17

Sensational

An amazing 21 hours!
With 19 minutes to go I bought another audio book and listened to it in its entirety first as I just didn't want this to end. Then I listened to that in hand a day, so I could get back to this.

Powerful stories, well crafted language, and an inspiration that will never leave me as I too shall see the power of one.

First with the head, then with the heart.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 06-07-17

the power of one review

i liked it. i want more story. good way to spend time driving to and from work!

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  • Roan
  • 04-13-17

Disappointing

Expected so much more from this book. It just ends abruptly. Would not recommend it

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  • Nick
  • 03-21-17

A 100% must read

This is by far the best book I have ever read. It was a book everyone has to read at least once in thier life and the narrator whilst took a few minutes to get used too makes it just that much better. Simply amazing

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  • Jet
  • 03-20-17

Empowering

Superbly narrated. A masterful story. Not having the patience as a child to read the book, I am amazed by what I missed out on as I was growing up. If only I had taken the time to read it then. Incredible story. Just. Incredible.

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  • Bernie
  • 03-06-17

brilliant

loved it, could not recommended this book enough. I read it years ago and now through audible..... loved it even more