The Power of One
Follows Peekay, a white British boy in South Africa during World War II, between the ages of five and eleven, as he survives an abusive boarding school and goes on to succeed in life and the boxing ring, with help from a chicken, a boxer, a pianist, black African prisoners, and many others.
"Unabridged version first published in hardcover in Australia by William Heinemann in 1989. Condensed version originally published in hardcover in Australia by Penguin Books, Ltd, Sydney, in 1999"--T.p. verso.
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In 1939, as Hitler cast his enormous, cruel shadow across the world, hatred of a similar kind took root in South Africa, where the seeds of apartheid were newly sown. There a boy called Peekay was born. He spoke the wrong language -- English, the language spoken by those who had sent the Afrikaners to the world's first concentration camps during the Boer War. He was suckled by a woman of the wrong color -- black, the color of fear and disdain. His childhood was marked by humiliation and abandonment. Yet he vowed to survive -- he would become welterweight champion of the world, he would dream heroic dreams. But his dreams were nothing compared to what awaited him. For he embarked on an epic journey through a land of tribal superstition and modern prejudice, where he would learn the power of words, the power to transform lives, and the mystical power that would sustain him even when it appeared that villainy would rule the world: the power of one.
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I only English, the infected tongue that had spread like a plague into the sacred land and contaminated the pure, sweet waters of Afrikanerdom . . . I spoke the language that had pronounced the sentences that had killed their grandfathers and sent their grandmothers to the world's first concentration camps, where they had died like flies . . . the sins of the fathers had been visited upon the sons, unto the third generation. I was infected.
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