Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man” as Want to Read:
Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man

4.62  ·  Rating details ·  26 ratings  ·  21 reviews
The life of Jean Vanier, founder of l'Arche, who changed the way the world views disability

It's a crazy story. In August 1964 a thirty-six-year-old Canadian from a famous family - one who has already joined the navy during war at age thirteen, become an officer, earned a PhD, and taught ethics at the University of Toronto -- takes up residence in a little house he just bou
Paperback, 250 pages
Published August 4th 2019 by Plough Publishing House
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Jean Vanier, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Jean Vanier

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-50
4.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  26 ratings  ·  21 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Jun 24, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: kindle, netgalley
Thanks to Netgalley and Plough House Publishing for a digital galley in exchange for an honest review.

A truly inspirational story of a man who devoted his life to helping others. The late Jean Vanier was the fourth child in a family of five born to former Canadian Governor General Georges Vanier and his wife Pauline Archer. A Navy man, a philosopher, a theologian and a humanitarian, Jean Vanier is most well known for founding L'Arche in 1964, an international community for people with developm
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: netgalley-books
Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man by Anne-Sophie Constant is a well-written and informative biography of a selfless man who made such a difference in countless lives. Jean Vanier, at the age of thirteen, joined the military and became an officer during his eight years there. After obtaining a PhD, he became an ethics lecturer at the University of Toronto. In 1964, at the age of thirty-six, the young Canadian established a home for two mentally disabled men in Trosly, France. The cottage, witho ...more
Aug 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: e-books, rec
“Jean Vanier, Portrait of a Free Man” is an inspiring book. It is about the fascinating life of Jean Vanier (September 10, 1928 – May 7, 2019) a Canadian philosopher and humanitarian who founded networks of communities which house and advocate for people living with intellectual disabilities.

From 1964, after discovering the terrible living conditions that psychiatric patients had to endure in asylums in France, Jean Vanier started living with a small group of people with intellectual disabiliti
Aug 20, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Summary: A biography of Jean Vanier, the founder and guide of the L'Arche homes where assistants and cognitively disabled live together in community. 

On May 7, 2019, one of the most remarkable saints of our era went to his eternal rest and reward. Anne-Sophie Constant, who enjoyed extraordinary access to this man, completed earlier in the year her biography of Jean Vanier, founder of the L'Arche houses for the disabled. She describes a man who lived at peace, and as a truly free man during his l
A man who loved silence but dedicated his life to others, believing that faith required action. A soldier who lived peacefully, bring peace to others. An intellectual who found his true being in relationship not understanding, who believed, in fact, that that understanding followed trust and obedience.

Jean Vanier, who died in May at the age of 90, was, in my opinion, a hero and a saint. Beloved by thousands of ordinary people of all faiths, he was also admired by Pope John Paul II and the curren
Tamara Murphy
Aug 10, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019, plough-reviews
It’s a curious thing about us humans that we often delay our acquaintanceship with the work of remarkable humans until they die. For that reason, this August may be perfect timing for this new release from Plough Publishing House as the world mourns the loss of Jean Vanier, age 90, in May. For those like me who have circled around the writing and wisdom of the man who traded in a life of the political and academic elite to found L’Arche, an international federation of communities spread over 37 ...more
Cristie Underwood
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle
Wow! There are some people that you read about and think about how little you have done with your own life to help others. Jean Vanier came from a famous and wealthy family and had the compassion to create a place for two mentally disabled men to live that he didn't even know well. Who can say they would do the same? From there, he created homes for disabled people and volunteers to live. I was very humbled reading this, as it is amazing at how much he accomplished.
Kim Pollack
May 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
We live in a world that makes a fuss over men who run around chasing each other and throwing balls for a living. We make idols of surgically-enhanced actors or actresses in superhero constumes or singers who leave their pants at home when they perform. We love spectacle. We love drama. We love obnoxious, outrageous behavior. But, much of the time, the true heroes are those who live out of the limelight, serving their fellow humans every day with whatever resources they have.

The book Jean Vanier:
Toni Osborne
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Portrait of a Free Man

Who is Jean Vanier:

Jean Vanier is the founder of L'Arche communities, where a small number of people with and without intellectual disabilities live together in a spirit of conviviality and sharing. This is an expensive biography devoted to him by Anne-Sophie Constant and a nice presentation of a man out of the ordinary. Reading this book, one inevitably feels the friendship that united them …..

The pen of Anne Sophie Constant is crystal clear she paints a portrait of a he
Jul 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jean Vanier, who died recently, was the founder of the L’Arche communities, where adults with intellectual disabilities live alongside those without. There are today 154 such communities in 38 countries. This is an excellent and thoroughly researched biography of Vanier, and an inspirational account of a remarkable man. It brings him alive in all his complexity, and I found the book a fascinating and powerful read.
Lory Hess
See my full review at The Emerald City Book Review. A copy was received for review purposes from the publisher. No other compensation was received, and all opinions expressed are my own.When I was living in a community with adults with developmental disabilities, one of my colleagues told me he had been inspired to take up this work by the writings of Jean Vanier, founder of the international L'Arche movement. I was intrigued, because I had never heard of the man or the movement, and I wanted to ...more
Jul 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jean Vanier: Portrait of a Free Man is a well-written biography. I was overwhelmed at times by the unfamiliar people and places in his life. Also, my lack of knowledge of theologians and their beliefs put me at a disadvantage.

He has done great good in his life helping people with physical and mental disabilities. I wish we could apply his thinking and methods to our growing homeless populations. When I entered a giveaway hoping to win a copy of this book, I had anticipated learning more about t
Joseph J.
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Those seeking a light in an often dark discouraging world
Jean Vanier was a free man indeed: Free of attachment to material things and the world's definition of financial success. Free of the expectation of others-including family-in how he should live his life. Vanier, from a politically powerful family and trained for a naval career (he danced with Princess Margaret), set out on a pilgrimage of French villages and life in primative huts to find his calling and place in life. He responded to society's cruel rejection of the mentally unstable and affli ...more
Jul 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Fascinating and inspirational life.
Jun 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Before I started reading this biography I knew nothing about either Jean Vanier or the L'Arche Community, which Jean founded. I love reading about interesting people and I learning something new about the world, so the information posted about this book got my attention; the book kept it. The author wrote in a very conversational way I found engaging. As for Vanier, it was clear from an early age - - 12 - - when he decided to leave his Catholic Canadian family to attend a Protestant Naval Academ ...more
Jun 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have known about the L'Arche communities for some time, but only the most basic knowledge. I knew nothing about the founder, Jean Vanier.

This book is a gem in giving one a look at who Jean Vanier is (was,) how his life formed him to become the man he was and how he allowed God the freedom to work in him and lead him. Having finished the book I regret I never met this man.

Reading his words brought me to tears at times. The author provided a glimpse of a truly special human being, who even now
May 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got this as a arc e book from Net Galley for my i pad. I enjoyed reading it. It is about the founder of the L'arche community. This was a group home setting for mentally handicap or intellectual disabled people. My parish priest at the catholic church I attend took a year off as a priest and worked at one of these communities in Ontario. He mentions it sometimes in his Homilies at mass that it was a rewarding experience for him. I was glad to get this book from Net Galley to find out more abou ...more
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
5* star because I knew little about Jean Vanier and this book helped me to understand him and what he did.
A book for of food for thought.
Highly recommended!
Many thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for this ARC, all opinions are mine.
Pamela Barrett
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I remember seeing a documentary on L’Arche years ago and being touched by
the feeling of love and compassion Jean Vanier had for each person. And I knew first hand that giving yourself; your time, your energy, and your emotions to a person with mental and physical limitations is not a easy path. Especially in a “me first” world where slowing down long enough to listen is a major effort. In Portrait of a Free Man his biographer shows us how Jean Vanier found his calling-not only help men an
Trevor Smith
Aug 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Amazing book about an amazing life. Convicting and inspiring.
Tony Carey
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wonderful book full of love and wisdom.
rated it it was amazing
Jul 02, 2019
Mindy Goorchenko
rated it really liked it
Jun 27, 2019
thomas e hickey
rated it really liked it
Aug 15, 2019
Mark Wurtz
rated it it was amazing
Aug 27, 2019
Joy Matteson
rated it really liked it
Aug 30, 2019
Sean Gibson
rated it really liked it
Aug 16, 2019
marked it as to-read
May 07, 2019
marked it as to-read
May 08, 2019
marked it as to-read
May 08, 2019
marked it as to-read
May 10, 2019
Yvonne S
marked it as to-read
May 10, 2019
marked it as to-read
May 11, 2019
marked it as to-read
May 13, 2019
marked it as to-read
May 14, 2019
added it
May 15, 2019
Christy Baker
marked it as to-read
May 17, 2019
Tori Crawford
marked it as to-read
May 28, 2019
marked it as to-read
Jun 01, 2019
marked it as to-read
Jun 04, 2019
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
Jonathan Choi
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
Nancy Adams
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
Kathryn Davis
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
Bill Schlott
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
Frederick Rotzien
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
Kim Ellis
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
Deborah Gerhart
marked it as to-read
Jun 08, 2019
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »