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Posted December 10, 1999
A Loving Tribute to One of the 19th Century Heroes
John Farrow (1904-1963), perhaps best known to us today as the father of the actress Mia Farrow (who wrote an introduction to this 1998 edition) wrote this book in 1937 after encountering leprosy himself in Tahiti. There he met one of Father Damien's 'children' and became curious about the stories he heard about this man 'so heroic as to seem highly fictitious'. While the book is reverential in portraying Father Damien, it does point out some of his weaknesses and flaws. I found the book to be well-written and fast-paced with concise background information on leprosy, eighteenth century treatment of lepers, and the Hawaiian Islands. Perhaps the most interesting part of the book for me is how in a way it is very much a product of its time (the Thirties). Serious biographies of that time were still allowed to glorify their subjects. I shudder to think what a nineties' author would do with the controversies that surrounded Father Damien throughout his life among the lepers of Molokai. A great book for someone needing inspiration or needing a good example of the difference one person can make in the world.
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