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The Power of One

Written by: Bryce Courtenay
Narrated by: Humphrey Bower
Length: 21 hrs and 33 mins
5 out of 5 stars (1 rating)

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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.

©2013 Christine Courtenay (P)2014 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

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.
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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Bob
  • 14-05-09

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.

95 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • J. W. Wright
  • 23-06-06

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.

38 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • John
  • 20-09-07

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.

58 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • New England Woman
  • 12-10-08

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?

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Dylan McDiarmid
  • 26-06-06

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.

27 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Borgnimbblefoot
  • 27-04-06

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.

51 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Julie D. Dickinson
  • 30-09-09

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.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Ben
  • 16-06-10

The Best

Five stars does not seem enough to share between Author and Narrator. The story, the language used and the way it's narrated are brilliant. The first person story telling is real, entertaining and chilling. The first few chapters as a five and six year old had the hairs on my arms almost constantly on end. My new favourite Audiobook by far.

10 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Thornton
  • 29-10-06

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.

30 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Cathy
  • 23-08-09

Spectacular!

This story is gripping! I had to turn it off to get some sleep. This is my first Courtenay book but I intend on buying more!! Humphrey Bower is an amazing reader! I felt drawn into the story. His voice brings every single character to life! Amazing!! Truly, you will not be disappointed...(were there enough exclamations?) !!!!!!!!!!

28 people found this helpful

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Sarah
  • 20-08-06

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!

20 people found this helpful

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  • Nick (uglyducklin)
  • 26-02-14

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.
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.

11 people found this helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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  • T
  • 09-10-14

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.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Deborah
  • 03-04-09

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!

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jonathan Craig
  • 28-08-09

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!

9 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Al Jeavons
  • 30-11-16

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.

5 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • L du Toit
  • 14-02-16

Simply brilliant!!

A brilliant and nostalgic peace of work almost poetic at times well worth the listen and exceptionally well narrated.

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Steve
  • 30-12-11

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

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Chris
  • 04-05-11

Awesome read

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

11 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Rachel
  • 13-08-08

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.

8 people found this helpful

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  • Danielle
  • 06-03-18

An absolute treasure.

Love this book. Have listened to it more than once and no doubt will listen again. Wonderfully written and read.

2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 07-04-19

Fantastic Narration!

The narrator was absolutely fantastic. 11/10 for him, his 'voices' and accents added so much to the story.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • Anonymous User
  • 10-12-17

An eternal Classic.

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

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Claudia
  • 01-07-20

Great read

Absolutely loved this book & its amazing characters. A new favourite. I really enjoyed the narration.

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  • Patrina Philben
  • 21-06-20

BLOODY BRILLIANT!

This book is inspirational. It should be read by every child before they leave school.
Thank you Mr B.C.

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  • Robert Stockton
  • 29-05-20

Perfection.

I read The Power of One when I was 13 years old, so when I decided to read it again a week ago at the age of 38, I thought some of the magic I remembered may have been mostly from the mystical timbre of that age but I found, delighted, that that magic has remained and in many ways intensified! Whilst the bitter-sweetness of nostalgia at times towered astoundingly, the majesty of the book swathed me in new, powerful appreciation.

If you don't read this book in your life, there is no question, you will have missed something truly spectacular.

The fact that Humphry Bowers narrated is one of those stunning synchronicities for me, as he is - hands down - my favorite narrator.

I already deeply miss this book and am crossing my fingers that "Tandia" has been made into an audio book and that Mr Bowers is the narrator.

Bryce Courtney was one of the most brilliant Australian men of our times and probably no better role model could exist. Thank you, one thousand times.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 26-05-20

Life changing

This book is the awaking of the power inside. It is simply incredible, taking you through a journey of emotion.

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  • David Martinussen
  • 17-05-20

An Absolute Classic

How lucky are readers of Bryce Courtenay, that ‘The Power of One’ did not unwittingly remain forever a doorstop in the kitchen of his family home? This is a remarkable work which portrays a young man’s journey to adulthood. On the way he rises to meet every obstacle in his path, to show what an indomitable spirit is capable of.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-05-20

Rich in detail and heart, highly recommend!

The depth of this book is second to none with a mix of tragedy and triumph that is told in rich detail that leaves you wanting more.

The way Humphrey Bower reads this book brings it to life and helps immerse one into the story.

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  • Anonymous User
  • 27-04-20

Brilliant. Just brilliant!

The depth of this story from Bryce Courtney has a well earned reputation that proceeds itself, so much so that it is difficult to choose points that have not been stated 1000 times before. Humphrey Bower's narration breathes life into this story and the African landscape of the dialogue. Bower's voice truly adds another dimension, next level, when compared to reading the book alone with only your inner voice narrating. Something I would enjoy listening to again and again.... 5 Stars!