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The Power of One Audiobook

The Power of One

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Audible Editor 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 Rating

4.6 (4657 )
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Performance
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  •  
    Bob Takoma Park, MD, United States 05-14-09
    Bob Takoma Park, MD, United States 05-14-09 Member Since 2005
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    "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.

    64 of 64 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John 09-20-07
    John 09-20-07
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    "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.

    41 of 41 people found this review helpful
  •  
    New England Woman Newmarket, NH 10-12-08
    New England Woman Newmarket, NH 10-12-08 Member Since 2007

    Jean C Kennedy

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    "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?

    36 of 36 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. W. Wright Lynchburg, VA 06-23-06
    J. W. Wright Lynchburg, VA 06-23-06 Member Since 2017

    I majored in English at the U of Va, taught high school English and then became a physician. I enjoy fiction and nonfiction.

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    "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
  •  
    Dylan McDiarmid 06-26-06 Member Since 2015

    Computer programmer and longtime audio book consumer. I enjoy speculative fiction, and a variety of non-fiction books.

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    "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
  •  
    Jim "The Impatient" 11-08-14 Member Since 2016

    My taste differs from kid books to gory horror books.

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    Performance
    Story
    "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.

    13 of 13 people found this review helpful
  •  
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 10-18-08
    connie Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada 10-18-08

    Narrative makes the world go round.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "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
  •  
    Thornton Smithville, TN, USA 10-29-06
    Thornton Smithville, TN, USA 10-29-06 Member Since 2012
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    "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
  •  
    Julie D. Dickinson Portage, Michigan USA 09-30-09
    Julie D. Dickinson Portage, Michigan USA 09-30-09 Member Since 2017
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    "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
  •  
    Borgnimbblefoot 04-27-06

    rage against the machine

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    "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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  • emma
    Hopwood, United Kingdom
    2/28/13
    Overall
    "One of the best audiobooks I've ever listened to!"

    The narrator of this audiobook is fantastic and makes it even better than reading the book itself. One of the most interesting and inspiring stories I have ever come across, probably even more so if you are South African. The characters are excellent and there's never a dull moment. I even learnt quite a bit about boxing...

    Would definitely recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • B
    Huddersfield, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "I felt the pain"

    Such an in depth description of life in South Africa after the Boer war, I learned so much. I have dropped it to 4 stars because I did sometimes feel that the charachter PK was "too good to be true" and glorified in his sucess a little too much.



    However you do feel as though you are there, and the narrator very sucessfully modified his accent for the different charachters

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • KIM
    Bognor Regis, United Kingdom
    3/5/12
    Overall
    "Excellent Story!"

    Really enjoyed this book so much! Peake has a great story to tell.
    The reader does an excellent job of 'doing' all the different character voices, well done!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    SHIFNAL, United Kingdom
    12/30/11
    Overall
    "ERGH!!!!"

    Reason for ERGH is that I've finished it - wow I loved this book - some of the sentences are life changing quotes. As Peekay says "with the head and then with the heart".

    Use your head and buy this book and with your heart you will love it forever.

    Can't wait to listen to Tandia.

    P.S. Humphrey Bower's reading is superb my congratulations to him

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Joanna
    Norwich, United Kingdom
    12/28/11
    Overall
    "Great!"

    Fantastic narrator and a great story, even if the hero is too brilliant to be true! Loved it and will be trying more by the same author/narrator combination

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Steve
    Chestfield, United Kingdom
    12/11/11
    Overall
    "Epic story beautifully told"

    A real page turner of a book that is loosely based around the authors own experiences as a young boy growing up in South Africa during the second world war. One of the best books I've listened to in ages. Great story, wonderfully narrated.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • bhavnas
    London, United Kingdom
    11/17/11
    Overall
    "Must have a copy of this book"

    Wonderful!! .I enjoyed this book, very positive and very powerful. Superb Reading, narrator really did a great job. I love the book very much and highly recommend this book

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Fran
    LONDON, United Kingdom
    10/29/11
    Overall
    "Wonderful!"

    Having just written a poor review of Brother Fish, I thought I had better do the right thing and write what I thought of this BryceC. It couldn't have been different! A fabulous, engaging novel. Loved the characters, and was so sad to lose them. Rooted for PJ all the way and grew with him. Totally absorbing history lesson at the same time without being hammered home. Story crafted beautifully. Hey, and I don't even like boxing - but those scenes were compelling. One of my favourite listens!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • Sandra
    Hanwell, United Kingdom
    8/10/11
    Overall
    "A must for every listener!"

    FABULOUS! I found this book quite by accident, having never heard of the author or the story and purchased this book merely on the strength of the personal reviews that I read and I was not disapointed. Quite simply a beautiful story, a hidden gem and one that I would recommend to every listener.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  • velA
    ulv, United Kingdom
    8/8/11
    Overall
    "very predictable"

    this book is ok. yes, it is a good story but i found it extremely predictable. I kept guessing then all my guesses were right. i have finished it but didnt leave me thinking, from the very good reviews, may be i expected too much and found myself setting the speed to1.5. getting it finished but the end wasn't a suprise too.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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