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The Test of Courage: Michel Thomas

4.17  ·  Rating details ·  362 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The story of Michel Thomas reads like a thriller in which adventure and heartbreak combine to produce a unique form of wisdom. Until his death in 2005, he taught languages to ghetto kids, heads of industry and movie stars in a matter of days, succeeding even with people who considered themselves hopeless linguists. To those who have been taught by him, he seemed to be a mi ...more
ebook, 416 pages
Published 2012 by Apostrophe Books (first published 1999)
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 ·  362 ratings  ·  26 reviews

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May 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography, war
This is a controversial book, attacked by some critics as a work of fiction, whilst lauded by many others.

Personally, I am undecided. Michel Thomas had a bent for self-promotion and clearly exaggerated at times. If that were the only problem, I would skirt over it, but it could suggest further veracity issues.

Large tracts are given over to the progression of the war in general, accounts of which are available in any WWII history book instead of focusing on what Michel was doing during the time a
Feb 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, memoirs
I found this book to be an incredible account of a Polish-born Jew who found himself in France at the onset of World War II. I've always been fascinated with World War II and this story renewed in me the strength of human spirit. I'm amazed at how strong the will to survive is present in some people and the lengths they go.

Michel Thomas was a extrovert Jew living in France at the time that Nazi-Germany was gaining control over the country. He's rounded up in and sent to labor camps within the bo
Aug 23, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
This is a controversial biography. Michel died recently, but was in later years a remarkable language teacher who tried to revolutionise the educational system and met with great resistance, partly because his method placed so much responsibility on teachers and they didn't want the burden. You may have come across his recorded language courses on Amazon or in bookshops - they are wonderful and genuinely effective.

This book extends further back though, detailing an amazing life in which he slipp
Scott Meneely
Apr 10, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Courage Beyond Words was a book that left such an impact on me that it made me want to cry, yet I didn't want it to end. The life story of Michel Thomas is a wild rollercoaster ride of excitement and a great example of what one person can do to stand up against horrible evils. I wanted to read this book to learn more about Michel Thomas' teaching methods but came away with so much more!

Thomas, who fled Nazi Germany to France and escaped from a concentration camp to join the French resistance wa
Alisa Zingerman
Sep 24, 2017 rated it liked it
As literature - the narration is weak sometimes, too short when it should be long and too long when it should be short... In any case, this is a story that had to be told, and I do feel deep gratitude to the author for the immense research he did. It is an inspiring and edifying book, in spite of its literary shortcomings. A good literature has an "aftertaste", it makes you live its story long after it is over. This historical testimony makes you recall it for other reasons, for the evidence it ...more
David Randall
Oct 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It is often said that truth is stranger than fiction and that is certainly true in the life of Michel Thomas!
Feb 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Although not of great literary value, as a story it is definitely interesting, fast paced and worth reading. The biggest part is the story of World War 2 and post-war Germany and US through the eyes of Michel Thomas. An amazing memoir from the famous teacher, who gets revealed as being so much more, who has witnessed and endured so much more, that it is sometimes hard to believe.

For those not very knowledgeable on the details of the war it will also act as a great introduction to the outbreak o
How could the biography of a Polish Jew who survived a Vichy concentration camp, fought in the French Resistance, worked for the Americans in counterintelligence and eventually became one of the highest paid language tutors in the world be a bad read? The book is a little padded with information about WWII that Thomas did not actually live but that is totally relevant to the overall story of his life. I also would have liked to have heard a little bit more about how he learned his languages and ...more
Carla Perry
Jun 06, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book deals heavily with the Resistance movement in France, the Vichy Regime, and the broader picture of World War II. It's a first-person account of a heroic, but flawed man who fought and survived the Nazi extermination efforts by becoming a Resistance fighter. A very moving and readable story that filled in a great deal of the history of France's involvement in the war. The United States does not come off looking particularly good. On page 13, he writes: "I was taught that if you don’t ne ...more
Jun 03, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this book. The firsthand stories about the resistance fighters were the most fascinating part. Michael Thomas is clearly a very intelligent man. The book mentions language schools that he helped pioneer in California. The book makes me want to enroll. It is a shame that no other schools adopted his system earlier. The book also makes you think about how Americans are just stabbing ourselves in the foot by not stressing the importance of foreign language skills at a younger age.
Harvey Heilbrun
Nov 20, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This was an incredible book. Having successfully learned some French using Michel Thomas's Learn a language CDs, I was fascinated to learn more about him. His life from pre-World War II to his language courses is inspiring. It taught me a lot more than I wanted to know about World War II, the Holocaust, and the political machinations throughout the war and after. It is quite depressing on a moral level. How the LA Times and the courts treated and reacted to Michel Thomas's experiences following ...more
Tammy Swartzendruber jata
Feb 19, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
There are no words

I have read many memoirs of people who lived through the holocaust, but never have I read anything like this. Michel's courage is beyond comprehension! To walk out of a prison camp and then voluntarily return that evening, because he discovers his "pass" was brought about by dishonorable means- what is there to say? Michel would sooner be tortured in camp them to live a free man with that knowledge hanging over him the rest of his life. This book is filled with these kinds of a
Feb 18, 2016 rated it did not like it
I should have read the reviews before I downloaded this book. Much of it seemed grandiose and self-aggrandizing. Maybe it was true, but it's certainly hard to believe.

This is one of the very few books that I did not finish. I always try to finish a book whether or not I'm taken with it or not - you never know - there might be something wonderful further on. I complained about this so much as I progressed it that my husband asked me to please stop reading it. Of course, I didn't do this right awa
Dec 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: wwii
Dramatic story

of a resistance fighter during World War II. He survived horrible treatment and fought back. It's fascinating and heart-breaking. It doesn't hide the barbarous cruelty and dehumanizing work of the Nazis but doesn't spare the atrocities of the French collaboration and the U.S.'s complicity in holding up visas and saving Nazi war criminals.
Jul 05, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2013
Am not quite sure how to take this book, Michel comes across as self-righteous and convinced that he's a ladies man. Shame the author wrote the main part of the book about WW2, which undoubtedly is an important part in Michel's life, but I would've liked to read more about the 50+ years afterwards.
Have a look at if you doubt the stories.
G. Goodson
Jul 02, 2016 rated it it was ok
I was lost at times with so many names and actions going on?

I was a reader lost most the time. Too much jumping from topic to topic and so many n Ames and useless backgrounds about each. Hard book to read and get into.
george johansen
Apr 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dynamic recollection of horrors of war

Excellent review of the horror of war. This book should be required reading in schools

Mr Thomas is a remarkable man and thanks to his writing we can be sure history will keep these acts in the minds of all free people.
Jane Bernheim
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An amazing book. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants the inside story of the after effects of the management of post war Germany.

I highly recommend this book for it's inside view of the handling of post war Germany and it's war criminals.
Apr 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
having recently discovered his method by chance, and finding it remarkable, thought it would be interesting to read about the man. The man is more remarkable than his method. it would be unbelievable fiction, truly incredible non fiction.
Jeff Becker
Jul 19, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I thought this book was pretty good. It resonated with me on a number of levels. It was exciting, informative and emotional. I liked it very much. I learned a lot about World War 2 Vichy France. I would recommend this book.
Margaret M. Sutherland
Apr 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing

A man never to be forgotten. A story of truth to be told over and over. Should be a must read for all students. Because of Michel Thomas I have a better grasp of how the world really works.
Dallas Doctor
Interesting story - interesting life - clearly overstated - but worth the time spent.
Sep 12, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though sometimes mired in details, a fascinating story of occupied France during World War II, with reflections on education and journalism ethics, as well.
Apr 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the inspirational story of a man who never gave up. From childhood, through a desperate time during WW11 to a renown language master. A wonderful adventurous life and an amazing true story.
Marita Tiller
rated it really liked it
Mar 24, 2016
David Tailford
rated it it was amazing
Jun 18, 2018
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Jul 11, 2018
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Jan 05, 2014
Nicholas Robin Hood
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May 26, 2019
jeanne perry
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Aug 27, 2017
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Christopher Robbins began his career in journalism at the age of sixteen when he started writing jazz criticism for the Daily Telegraph. Since then he has written for numerous newspapers and magazines in Britain, Europe and the USA.

The Empress of Ireland won the Saga Award for wit, along with exceptional critical acclaim. In Search of Kazakhstan was short-listed for the Authors’ Club Best Travel B

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