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The Power of One (The Power of One, #1)
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The Power of One

(The Power of One #1)

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  82,466 ratings  ·  5,390 reviews
In 1939, as Hitler casts his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, the seeds of apartheid take root in South Africa. There, a boy called Peekay is born. His childhood is marked by humiliation and abandonment, yet he vows to survive and conceives heroic dreams, which are nothing compared to what life actually has in store for him. He embarks on an epic journey through a ...more
Paperback, 544 pages
Published September 29th 1996 by Ballantine Books (first published 1989)
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Ronell Harkin There is a difference between the book and the film. We had it as one of our setwork books in high school (SA). It's the most incredible story. 20 yea…moreThere is a difference between the book and the film. We had it as one of our setwork books in high school (SA). It's the most incredible story. 20 years later and it's still on my top 10 favorite book list (and I read more than 15 books a month). Simply a beautiful story - and timeless. (less)
Sharon Darrow Peekay is the main character in the book, who you follow from childhood to adulthood. Trust me, if you read the book you will remember that name forev…morePeekay is the main character in the book, who you follow from childhood to adulthood. Trust me, if you read the book you will remember that name forever. This story is one that truly stands the test of time.(less)

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Average rating 4.32  · 
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Elyse  Walters
Wow... incredible!!!
I fell in love with Peekay even 'before' he was five years old, starting in South Africa, when he shares of being nursed from his lovely black nanny before being sent to boarding school. ( although we follow him from age 5 to 20 - from the late 1930's to mid 40's).

Our oldest daughter attended a boarding High School in Michigan for a short time -an academic/arts school. The family separation was painful. I can't begin to imagine sending a 5 year old away to a boarding school
Jul 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
The dazzling writing style of Bryce Courtenay is captured in this, his debut novel. Its intricate prose and powerful characters bring a story to life that few readers will be able to resist. In rural South Africa during the late 1930s, Peekay is a young boy who has been sent to boarding school. With English roots, Peekay struggles in this school where the Boer boys ridicule him for his heritage, turning verbal pokes into full-on malicious attacks. With war building in Europe, Peekay is led to be ...more
Audio version with introduction by the author himself. He is such a larrikin with a happy voice. Bryce Courtenay's debut, apparently toiled over at the kitchen table with his son's girlfriend stating "This is the best book I've read, you need to publish it" or words to the effect. The rest, they say, is history.

"First with the head, then with the hands" What an Australian classic, one that I should have read by now.

Peekay starts out as a tiny tot (I have a 6 year old son and therefore horrif
Took me some time to read, but not because it wasn't good, but just because there is so much to this story. A supremely well written book! If you like historical fiction - the type focused on people living in certain historical eras, not necessarily specific historical events - you will enjoy this story. I now feel like I have a good feel for WWII era South Africa. Also, if you like interesting characters and good character development, this is a good story for you, too. ...more
Kylie D
Jan 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My all time favourite book!
Apr 13, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I just finished reading The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay which was recommended to me by JK in our little cross country virtual book club. Divided into three parts, this is a story of a boy named Peekay coming of age in 1930-1950's South Africa. So, we've got major historical things happening - Boer War aftermath, Hitler Germany and WWII, the buddings of Apartheid. And then you have this really small boy going through hell at age 5 in a boarding school and learning at this infant stage in life ...more
Mar 19, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who dares to believe
Of all the books I read in 2009 one stands out in the horizon of my memory, a mass market paperback with 540 pages of microscopic print which I devoured in a day and a half.
The Power of one gave me the chance to meet a part of myself that I thought I had lost forever. It rekindled a long extinguished flame of hope, it awakened a lost feeling of wonder, it gave me proof that one can make a difference.

Set in South Africa in the 1930s and 40s , The Power of one is the compelling coming-of-age story
I hardly know where to begin writing this review. This book had been on my to-read list for a long time. I finally decided to take the plunge and listen to the Audible version, narrated by the fantastic Humphrey Bowers (who really brought SHANTARAM to life also). And now it's over. Twenty hours spent getting to know the wonderful Peekay, and now I'm done? This is one of those books that isn't really over when you finish it. It stays with you and the characters live on inside your head.That's rea ...more
May 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Skip by: Matt
Shelves: historical
Normally I refrain from writing long reviews, but this wonderful book offers so much to readers, that I must indulge. It is a broad sweeping book about rural South Africa, set in the late 1930s and 1940s prior to apartheid. It imparts a real sense of this exotic country and the friction between its diverse peoples: Dutch Afrikaners, native Boers, a host of black tribes, and the English.

The protagonist Peekay is an only child, sent to boarding school at age 5 when his mother is institutionalized
What a nice surprise this book was for me. This coming-of-age story set in 1939 South Africa has a focus on the sport of boxing throughout, which I am generally not a fan of, but certainly loved every minute of it in this story. Peekay endures awful humiliation and abandonment at such a young age yet he struggles along through adversity and heartbreaking losses.

Numerous comments by readers mention they did not care for the ending, but I, for one, loved it! (view spoiler)

Anne  (on semi-hiatus)
4.5 Stars.

The Power of One is a very long but breathtaking story with characters and moments which I will never forget. It is coming of age story; a wonderful journey through the life of Peekay, a boy growing up in South Africa from 1930 to 1951. The book takes the reader through his life until the time he goes off to University. On an individual and societal level the story is marked by great struggles to overcome injustices and stiff odds. At the same time it imparts a real sense of South Afri
J.K. Grice
Oct 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, favorites
I read THE POWER OF ONE 8 years ago, and the story and messages of the novel continue to resonate with me still. This is such a powerful journey of character, courage, and self. I would read this book again in a heartbeat. Truly amazing.
Oct 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay. First published 1989.

So much has been written over the years about this book that I can’t add anything more illuminating to what has already been said. So this will just be my concise opinion.

This would have to be my third reading of The Power of One and still, although the story is well known to me, it still has the power, ignore the pun, to move me.
Every human emotion is on display here be they good or bad. This sadly is the human condition. We have within
The power of one was based on the courage to remain separate, to think through to the truth, and not to be beguiled by convention or the plausible arguments of those who expect to maintain power.

I love when I fall in love with a book that appears to be about a subject I don’t generally feel any enthusiasm for. In this case, that would be boxing. I watched a man named Kid Paret beaten senseless in a televised fight in 1962. He died a few days later. My father loved watching the fights, and we
3 - 3.5 stars

This novel makes an appearance in the top ten of the most loved novels in Australia, so my high expectations were justified. I feel I should have loved this, but I didn't. I should have loved it because it addresses racism, antisemitism, tribalism; it shows some disdain for religious beliefs while praising the power of knowledge and education - all these aspects, and more, should have made me go ga-ga over this novel.

The Power of One is pretty aptly named, it's also my main issue w
Dec 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Excellent, superb and intellectually challenging.
I was impressed in different ways.
On Peekay his character development and self knowledge. From a boarding school 5 year old : facing daily physical brutality. That brought tears to my eyes. Even the 'matron' used a cane! His childhood friendship with the 'Doc' (really a Professor of Music) being the most influential on developing his intellect while giving him the most 'parental' love. His next boarding school experience, starting a few years late
Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
After two years of thinking about this novel after I wrote the review below, I have upgraded to five stars. It was that impactful for me.

The Power of One is a semi-auto biographical coming of age story set in South Africa during the 1940’s.

PK is an English boy who endures a great deal of abuse from the Boer children, some of whom are Nazi sympathizers until he is taught to box. He is an exceptional student who later befriends Doc, a German professor who is a great pianist but who is confined to
Jul 23, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-said

This is the story of Peekay, a frail, young, English boy growing up poor in South Africa and of his refusal to be demoralized by the racial torment surrounding him. On the road to becoming a young man he cultivates some uniquely, diverse friends and discovers many truths, not the least of which, are that loyalty, strength, love and compassion, coupled with a insatiable, thirst for knowledge and armed with the focus and courage to stay true to one's own self, can all be fused together, thus harne
Heather W
May 28, 2007 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books! This is a truly inspirational historical fiction about of boyhood in South Africa at the birth of apartheid. Follow the life of a British child who comes of age amidst resentful Boers who are recovering from their own persecution while simultaneously championing the causes of Hitler in Germany. This precocious boy struggles to understand the clash of races and racism while simultaneously overcoming boundaries through the medium of competitive boxing.

One perhaps could ma
May 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 07, 2017 rated it liked it
The Power of One is at its simplest, a story of self-reliance and perseverance in times of hardship and struggle. The story follows Peekay from childhood through his young adult years, including his schooling, his pursuit of boxing, and his odd collection of enemies, friends, mentors and teachers.

The book is long, and it took me quite a long time to get into the story. It was a commitment, particularly because I found the pace of the story to be slow and full of (somewhat unnecessary) detail ea
Connie G
"The Power of One" is the story of the childhood and adolescence of a South African boy, Peekay. Set in the 1940s, the earlier Boer War, World War II, and apartheid all effect the relationships between the characters. After English Peekay was taunted cruelly by some Afrikaner (Boer) boys at a boarding school, he made it his goal to become the welterweight champion of the world someday. His first boxing mentor, Hoppie, advised him, "First with the head and then with the heart, that's how a man st ...more
Jan 01, 2009 rated it really liked it
When talking about The Power of One, it is easy to be distracted by "the power of one" itself and place ultimate importance on Peekay's slippery personal philosophy. But to do so to the exclusion of all else but racism is to read only a small portion of Bryce Courtenay's masterwork.

The Power of One also deals with class, religion, science, obsession, faith vs. reason, objectivism, homosocial intimacy, and in one of the finest literary expressions of its kind, the importance of violence.

Feb 23, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This is one of the most important books I have ever read. The reader really gets pulled into the life of PK, experiencing his trials and successes. There are some great laugh out loud moments, such as during his train ride with Big Hettie, and when Granpa Chook decides to express his opinion of The Judge and his Nazi party (though the surrounded circumstance is sad and grim). There are also some very dark times in his life, but these serve to prove the triumph of the human spirit and so are a va ...more
An absolutely wonderful read with amazing characters. South African historical fiction. Highly recommended.
Jane Yates
Oct 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Review of Audio book, The Power of One written by Bryce Courtenay, Narrated by Humphrey Bower.

This has been both a Hard and Easy review to write. The Power of one is a wonderful autobiographical novel which has been made into a fantastic audio book. Astonishingly this was Bryce Courtenay debut novel. Humphrey Bower is both experienced and gifted narrator and the perfect pick as he is able to pull off a convincing South African accent.
Hard to write up as it has so many powerful, tender and tanta
Feb 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I've read this book three times and each time it's as good as the previous read, if not better. A semi-autobiographical novel, Bryce Courtenay's The Power of One is set in South Africa immediately before, during and after WWII. The novel's protagonist is Peekay - just Peekay - who is, in all respects, a remarkable young man. The story begins when Peekay is 5 years old and ends when he is 17, but the 12 years covered are formative; although we don't know what lies in store for Peekay by the end o ...more
Mar 19, 2007 rated it it was amazing
I firmly believe that a book or a movie can be about absolutely anything as long as its well written. There are a few sports movies out there that I have enjoyed, that I got wrapped up in, all because what they were really were was just good stories. This is a book like that. If you do happen to read the back cover, you will learn that the book is about boxing, but it's hardly just about boxing. Saying The Power of One is only about boxing is like saying doing well in school is only about showin ...more
Aug 18, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Melanie by: Larry L
Shelves: fiction-i-own
My rating is probably somewhat closer to 4 stars. I enjoyed the story of Peekay and all the other characters but for me (I know I'm the outlier) it just took too long to tell it. I won't soon forget him though :)) ...more
Jan 15, 2009 rated it did not like it
Shelves: pleasegodno
God help me, I'll never finish this book. I'm drowning in uninspired writing.

Ok, I finished it. This was truly one of the most laborious reads I've had in quite a while. Suffice it to say I thought I'd never climb my way out to read another book again in my life. The writing style isn't difficult--it's not that that made it painful to get through. It's just a terribly written book with terribly boring, stock characters who go around doing terribly improbable things that evoke not one ounce of f
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I was born illegitimately in 1933 in South Africa and spent my early childhood years in a small town deep in the heart of the Lebombo mountains.

It was a somewhat isolated community and I grew up among farm folk and the African people. At the age of five I was sent to a boarding school which might be better described as a combination orphanage and reform school, where I learned to box - though less

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41 likes · 12 comments
“First with the head, then with the heart.” 178 likes
“Always in life an idea starts small, it is only a sapling idea, but the vines will come and they will try to choke your idea so it cannot grow and it will die and you will never know you had a big idea, an idea so big it could have grown thirty meters through the dark canopy of leaves and touched the face of the sky.' He looked at me and continued. 'The vines are people who are afraid of originality, of new thinking. Most people you encounter will be vines; when you are a young plant they are very dangerous.' His piercing blue eyes looked into mine.' Always listen to yourself, Peekay. It is better to be wrong than simply to follow convention. If you are wrong, no matter, you have learned something and you grow stronger. If you are right, you have taken another step toward a fulfilling life.” 133 likes
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