Reviews of and Quotes From Books About Dr. Schweitzer

Here is my review of a book about Dr. Schweitzer. All the books I review are in English. Many of them are out of print, but generally can be found by a book search from a good used-book dealer. See The Albert Schweitzer Page for links to my reviews of books written by Dr. Schweitzer as well as other related information.

The Africa of Albert Schweitzer

Written By:  Charles Joy and Melvin Arnold

Reviewed Edition:  The Beacon Press, 1948 

No ISBN Shown


Table of Contents

The Africa of Albert Schweitzer contains Joy and Arnold's impressions of Schweitzer's hospital at Lambarene from their visit during June of 1947. The outstanding strength of the book lies in the many large, sharp pictures taken by Joy of the hospital staff, patients, and grounds. The pictures have extensive captions describing their contents and circumstances. Particularly interesting to me were the pictures of the natives going about their daily, routine tasks within the hospital.

The text takes up perhaps a quarter of the book, and like the pictures concentrates on daily activities of Schweitzer and the hospital. Schweitzer's concern for the natives, whites, and animals is demonstrated, as is his authoritarian method of running the hospital.

In the concluding essay, Schweitzer considers how best to bring Africa into the Western world. He was not convinced that, in 1947, the Africans were sufficiently knowledgable of Western ways to successfully govern themselves in a Western manner. He was concerned that the natives would adopt only the trappings of Western civilization without the ideas of real value, such as the concept of a common humanity beyond tribal and racial boundaries. He felt it was the duty of whites who are concerned with the well-being of the natives to ensure that more of the natives become educated in those ideas before self-government should be attempted.

Quotes from The Africa of Albert Schweitzer

"A number of times at the Hospital I heard people say, 'The old Doctor has still the strength to work, but not the strength to argue.' I have an idea that he himself put these words into circulation."

"There has been nothing formal or academic about his life, in spite of his university associations and his many books. 'My life has unfolded like a romance,' he once said. It has, indeed, been a romance to him, full of fascinating experiences, ever changing, ever new, and the central theme of it has been love. He has been in love with life, with his work, with the people around him. 'People call be a man of action,' he wrote, 'but they do not understand me. I am really a dreamer.'"

"And now [Schweitzer] takes a book from his desk and opens it. It is a book in which he records the important events in his life. ... I notice with interest and amusement that on the same page are recorded the arrival of Mlle. Lagendijk from Holland and the arrival at the Hospital of the tiny fawn Leonie. Here is an instance of the sincerity of the Doctor's conviction that the human being is life that wills to live in the midst of life that wills to live, that the right to life is sacred, and that all life should be respected. Leonie too is important in the scheme of the universe. She merits a place in the Doctor's diary."

[In the caption of a photograph of native workers at the Lambarene Hospital] "The indegene medical staff is a source of immense pride to Dr. Schweitzer. Nearly all have been trained at the Hospital. They have overcome almost overpowering handicaps of superstition and local pressure. Some have risked retaliation by home villagers. They all know of predecessors who have paid with their lives for working at Lambarene."

[From a sermon by Schweitzer given at Lambarene in 1947 on the Sunday following the Feast of Saint John] "If there should come a man who was king of all the world--Europe, America, Asia, Africa--he would not be the greatest of men. The true grandeur of a man is to understand the heart of God. John had spoken the words of God when he said that now is the time when the kingdom of God should come. He was greater than any of the prophets because his heart was filled with the spirit of God. The others said that it was still night, and they did not know when the dawn would come. John, in the middle of the night, said, 'The sun will rise.' ...

O God, we can never thank you enough for the great preacher of the kingdom of God whom you have sent, the man who gave us an example, the man who had strength to put into our hearts, the man who was the servant of God. May he make us servants of God. We thank you for all the riches that you have put within us. Give us to understand these riches. May we desire to have your strength within us. Give us then the will to be thy children. Amen!"

Table of Contents of The Africa of Albert Schweitzer

    The "Prisoner of Lambarene"
    A River, a Doctor, and a Hospital
    The Struggle of Equatorial Africa
    "The Old Doctor"
    From the Rising of the Sun
    Worms and Their Cure
    The Feast of St. John
    Concluding Essay: Our Task in Equatorial Africa By Albert Schweitzer

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