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 Schweitzer Album

Written By: Erica Anderson

Reviewed Edition: Harper and Row, New York, 1965

No ISBN shown

Hardcover, 176 pages


Table of Contents

Erica Anderson was the photographer responsible for the Academy Award-winning documentary Albert Schweitzer, so it is no surprise that The Schweitzer Album includes many wonderful pictures of Albert Schweitzer and his hospital in Lambarene.  They show  Schweitzer meeting with patients, tending his pet animals, and working on the hospital's maintenance.  There are also a number of photographs of Schweitzer in Europe meeting with his friends in Gunsbach and with famous Europeans, and of Schwietzer working at his papers and his music.  Anderson first met Schwietzer in 1950, when he was 75 years old, so most of the pictures depict an aged (but still vigorous) Schweitzer.  The first chapter, however, does include some pictures taken by others showing a young Schweitzer and his family.  The pictures are generally large and very sharp; most are in black-and-white, although a handful of color pictures are also included.

In addition to these unique pictures, Anderson has included a substantial body of text, much of it written by Albert Schweitzer himself. There are very brief chapter introductions that note highlights of Schweitzer's life and thought, but most of the text serves to accompany and amplify the messages of the photographs.  More than mere captions, they include letters from Schweitzer to people around the world, excerpts from his speeches and writings, and quoted conversations and interviews.   Anderson and Schweitzer became good friends, and she spent much time helping him in Lambarene and Gunsbach.  The Schweitzer Album, along with Anderson's similar but earlier and shorter work Albert Schweitzer's Gift of Friendship, provides an irreplaceable record of Albert Schweitzer's later life.

Quotes from The Schweitzer Album

"It is not inappropriate for Schweitzer's life to be thought of in terms of music, a symphony of themes that taken together form a pattern of power and beauty.  The themes of his life are many--devotion to truth and reason, a quality of independence, loyalty to ideals and to friends, a sensitivity to the suffering of others and a reverence for all life, a high sense of duty and responsibility, idealism tempered with practicality, a single-minded dedication to chosen ends, a commitment in religious discipleship to follow in the way of Jesus the Nazarene."

[When urged to reject a person in need of medical assistance because he had previously stolen drugs from the hospital]
'What would the Lord Jesus have answered when someone came to Him in pain?' Schweitzer asked.  'Quick, waste no time.  Get him to the operating room'
'"Whatsoever you do unto the least of these my brethren you have done it unto me." This is my image of the Kingdom of God--not the Apocalypse--only this is the right meaning.'

"For [Albert Schweitzer], it is the direct personal encounter that is most real, and like his friend Martin Buber he sees in the confrontation of persons a practical philosophy.  So important to him is the directness of encounter that he is uneasy with the telephone and telegraph because they seem to him a barrier separating man from man: 'I cannot speak to someone I cannot see.'  Even in travel, he prefers a mode of transportation that makes it possible to meet people, but only late in life has he had the opportunity to travel by car--friends have offered to drive him in Europe from one engagement to another.  On such trips he never fails to stop to pick up a hitchhiker or to offer a lift to burdened travelers.  'One has a much more intimate relationship to the landscape and to people when one goes by car.'"

[Schweitzer answering questions from audience members following a talk at a factory in Paris]
Question Do you not think that a profound disequilibrium exists between science, the progress which strides on like a giant, and man, whose progress toward moral understanding proceeds at the pace of a tortoise?
A.S.  Nonsense, science pursues its own way, and we cannot stop it.  It has given us immense benefits; it has put us into great danger.  But we can escape this danger if we find men capable of surmounting all the circumstances of life and the difficulties of our time. It is only through the spirit that we can conquer.  And I admit to you, I believe in man.  My long life has convinced me that we are all thinking beings, and the question is only whether thought does dare us to reach to the depth of our being.  There we will find that we are entirely different from what we are when we do not search our own depths.  All thinking being comes to the knowledge that thought is the road which leads toward higher ethics of the spirit.  It is my faith.  It is that which sustains me in my life.

[Albert Schweitzer in Brussels, 1959] "Profound love demands a deep conception and out of this develops reverence for the mystery of life.  It brings us close to all beings.  To the poorest and smallest, as well as all others.  We reject the idea that man is 'master of other creatures,' 'lord' above all others.  We bow to reality.  We no longer say that there are senseless existences with which we can deal as we please.  We recognize that all existence is a mystery, like our own existence."

Table of Contents of The Schweitzer Album

    Bibliographical Note
    1. The Themes of the Beginning
    2. The Fellowship of the Spirit
    3. The Ministry of Service

Click here to return to the Albert Schweitzer Page.