Strength in What Remains Pdf Summary
Strength in What Remains is a wonderfully written, inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him – a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances.
Tracy Kidder, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of the bestsellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, and the enduring classic Mountains Beyond Mountains, has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the non-fiction narrative.” In this new book, Kidder gives us the superb story of a hero for our time. Strength in What Remains is a wonderfully written, inspiring account of one man’s remarkable American journey and of the ordinary people who helped him – a brilliant testament to the power of will and of second chances.
Deo arrives in America from Burundi in search of a new life. Having survived a civil war and genocide, plagued by horrific dreams, he lands at JFK airport with two hundred dollars, no English, and no contacts. He ekes out a precarious existence delivering groceries, living in Central Park, and learning English by reading dictionaries in bookstores. Then Deo begins to meet the strangers who will change his life, pointing him eventually in the direction of Columbia University, medical school, and a life devoted to healing. Kidder breaks new ground in telling this unforgettable story as he travels with Deo back over a turbulent life in search of meaning and forgiveness.
An extraordinary writer, Tracy Kidder once again shows us what it means to be fully human by telling a story about the heroism inherent in ordinary people, a story about a life based on hope.
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Strength in What Remains Review
3.0 out of 5 stars Powerful, but would have been better if Kidder hadn’t inserted his own story
Reviewed in the United States on October 24, 2011
Burundi is one of the poorest countries in the world, but the misery suffered by its population goes well beyond profound poverty. As is well known, both Burundi and the neighboring country of Rwanda had gruesome civil wars in the late 1990s. Hundreds of thousands of people were killed in fighting between the two main ethnic groups in these countries, the Hutu and the Tutsi.
“Strength in What Remains” is the story of Deogratias–or “Deo”–a young Burundi medical student and a Tutsi. When the Burundi war breaks out in 1994, Deo escapes to New York with $200 in his pocket and finds work as a grocery store delivery clerk. Living on the street, he almost gives up in despair, but he befriends a politically active nun who finds him a home in Lower Manhattan with an older, childless couple, who later pay his way through Columbia. Deo subsequently finds work with the global health organization founded by Paul Farmer, the subject of one of Kidder’s earlier books, “Mountains Beyond Mountains.” With the experience he gains at PIH, Deo eventually returns to Burundi to build a health clinic there.
Tracy Kidder’s true story of Deo’s life has two parts. The first part tells Deo’s story from the time he is a small child to the time he graduates from Columbia and starts to work at PIH. It’s powerful, indeed frequently overwhelming. But the second half of the problem is problematic. Here Kidder describes the trip he took with Deo back to Burundi, to retrace the path Deo’s took while escaping the violence and to make plans for the health clinic. Reading this section recalls watching a Michael Moore movie: you just wish that Moore would get back behind the camera and make his movie, without inserting himself into it, and the same seems true of Kidder. His reactions to the killing fields of Burundi aren’t what should matter, and yet there he is telling you about his inability to feel the appropriate feelings.
There’s also another problem with the second half of the book: sometimes it seems that Kidder has forgotten what he already wrote. For example, one of the most memorable moments in Deo’s experience occurs when he’s been on the run for weeks, and, exhausted, is about to give up just short of the Rwandan border. A Hutu woman sees him, coaxes to keep moving, and lies the border police saying that he is her son, in order to save him. Kidder tells this story in detail, in the first half of the book, writing: “‘I’m too tired,’ [Deo] told the woman. `I’m just going to stay here.’ `No, no,’ she said. `The border, it’s nearby.'”. In the second half, when they revisit the scene, Kidder describes a conversation he has with Deo: “‘What was it you told her?’ I asked over the noise of the plane. Gazing out, Deo replied `I’m too tired. I’m just going to stay here.’ And she said `No, no. It’s not too far to the border.'”
I happened to read this book shortly after reading Chimamanda Ngozi’s “Half the Yellow Sun,” a fictional account of a different African civil war: the Nigerian war that predated Burundi’s by about 30 years. Both books pack an emotional wallop, but somehow Ngozi’s fiction had an immediacy for me that Kidder was approaching in the first part of his book, but upset in the second.
5.0 out of 5 stars Survival and Redemption with Deogratias
Reviewed in the United States on March 10, 2010
A book like “Strength in What Remains” forces you to question your faith in the human race and helps restore it at the same time. Tracy Kidder brings us the indelible Deo, a Burundian medical student who survives the Burundian genocide in the mid-90s. He “escapes” to New York City with virtually no money and no friends or family to turn to for help and support and eventually returns to Burundi to set up a medical clinic for the poor. His survival and success causes anyone who anyone reading this book to ask themselves whether they could have not only survived such circumstances, but prospered after what he had been through. We view Deo with a sense of awe and respect for what he went through, how he overcame those nearly insurmountable obstacles and where he is now. If this book can’t lift your spirits, you may not have a heart that is beating.
A few things make this book stand out above others of this genre. First, Kidder’s use of flashback to alternate between the “present” and Deo’s life in Burundi, escape to NY and eventual return to Burundi is far more effective and engaging than a linear approach to storytelling. The second thing Kidder does well is bring us closer to secondary characters that intersect and are instrumental in Deo’s resurrection — from the ex-nun who first befriends Deo in NY, to the Wolf’s, the couple that take Deo in to live with them, to Dr. Paul Farmer. In other books, these secondary characters often remain nameless and faceless with little credit or importance placed on their role in helping the main protagonist overcome their obstacles. Kidder brings us close to these characters and reinforces their contributions in helping Deo overcome his past and becoming his new, extended family in his adopted homeland of America.
“Strength in What Remains” has a palpable undercurrent of “fear” throughout the book. This tone is set early with the stark horror as Deo hides from the ethnic killers and narrowly avoids the same fate. However, this fear remains with us through Deo’s journey — from the degrading and denigrating employer/boss Deo has at the grocery store to his first visit to Burundi during the reconciliation where tension and fear still lurks underneath the surface.
This is a book not to be missed. This is a book about survival and redemption that will leave a lasting imprint on anyone fortunate to get to know Deo’s story.
About Tracy Kidder Author Of Strength in What Remains pdf Book
Tracy Kidder Author Of Strength in What Remains pdf Book is an American author and Vietnam War veteran. Kidder may be best known, especially within the computing community, for his Pulitzer Prize-winning The Soul of a New Machine, an account of the development of Data General’s Eclipse/MV minicomputer. The book typifies his distinctive style of research. He began following the project at its inception and, in addition to interviews, spent considerable time observing the engineers at work and outside of it. Using this perspective he was able to produce a more textured portrait of the development process than a purely retrospective study might.
Kidder followed up with House, in which he chronicles the design and construction of the award-winning Souweine House in Amherst, Massachusetts. House reads like a novel, but it is based on many hours of research with the architect, builders, clients, in-laws, and other interested parties.
In 2003, Kidder also published Mountains Beyond Mountains: The Quest of Dr. Paul Farmer, A Man Who Would Cure The World after a chance encounter with Paul Farmer. The book was held to wide critical acclaim and became a New York Times bestseller. The actor Edward Norton has claimed it was one of the books which has had a profound influence on him.
Strength in What Remains pdf, Paperback, Hardcover Book Information
- Publisher : Random House; 1st Edition (August 25, 2009)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1400066212
- ISBN-13 : 978-1400066216
- Item Weight : 1.26 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.5 x 1 x 9.65 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,447,237 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- #303 in East Africa History
- #796 in Emigrants & Immigrants Biographies
- #2,963 in Medical Professional Biographies
- Customer Reviews: 4.5 out of 5 stars 425 ratings
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