Category Archives: Reviews

A Different Kind of Christianity

FaithInSociety blog, November 2006

Despite a daft headline (presumably it was meant as ironic), there’s an interesting review by John Carlin of the new Archbishop Desmond Tutu biography, published in The Observer. The key point is, Tutu communicates an interest in others and a vibrancy for life not centred on himself, a ‘religious in-group’ or the church as institution. Rather, he invites us to experience the possibility of the Gospel as a generous, capacious, inviting and domination-free adventure which treats others with dignity and respect. This, not defensive whingeing about “loss …
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“Readable biography… No plaster saint”

New Internationalist, January 2007

Rabble-Rouser for Peace/ What Happens After Mugabe/ The Book of Not

Most people would agree that, Nelson Mandela apart, the pre-eminent figure embodying South Africa’s long struggle for freedom and democracy has been Archbishop Desmond Tutu. In the darkest times, Tutu was always there, speaking at countless demonstrations and rallies and bearing witness to the evil perpetrated by apartheid. When liberty was won, his leadership of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission set the country on the path to justice when it could so easily have taken …
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Bookwatch – The Hindu

Bookwatch – The Hindu


“TUTU continued to crave more time for meditation and prayer. But this longing conflicted with many other impulses… the attractions of the money to be earned on the speaking circuit; …his enjoyment of the limelight…” Would a comment like this have made it into a biography of South African leader and Nobel Laureate Desmond Tutu had the biographer been an Indian?

Unlikely. For, Indians tend to eulogise and turn biographies of even living persons into obituaries; whitewashing the warts that make up any human being. But, …
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Cometh the Hour, Cometh the Man

United Reformed Church online (UK)

Desmond Tutu, Rabble-Rouser for Peace by John Allen.
Pub Random House, pp480, ISBN 1844135713, £18.99

Desmond Tutu, 75 this year despite three cancer operations, has lived through, and crucially contributed to, the second most dramatic change in a social system in the 20th century after the fall of communism.

This authorised biography is almost a warts and all portrait, though the quoted criticisms are usually answered. But no-one lives such a life without making enemies and drawing exasperated comments even from friends. Allen paints a sensitive picture of his …
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Biography of hardship, resilience, defiance against injustice and apartheid

Atlanta Dunia Website

Rabble-Rouser for Peace
The Authorized Biography of Desmond Tutu
By John Allen. Free Press. New York. Hard Cover. 496 pages

Reviewed by Mahadev Desai

John Allen, a respected and distinguished journalist, who has been a trusted friend of charismatic Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Nobel Laureate and spiritual father, whose words and experiences resonate with people of all faiths, has written an engrossing biography of him.

The absorbing biography, with 8 pages of vintage photographs, published to coincide with Tutu’s 75th Birthday, by Allen who has had 30 years of first-hand contact with him has …
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Moving bio details ‘uniquely Tutu’ model of peace

The Anglican Journal

Hugh McCullum
Feb 1, 2007

John Allen writes of Archbishop Desmond Tutu’s passion and compassion, his enormous charisma and his extraordinary ability to communicate with people – whites and blacks, enemies and friends, presidents and warlords, racists and liberals.

Inside this man whom much of the world knows as an ebullient, laughter-filled extrovert, a Nobel peace laureate who holds audiences and congregations spellbound, lives a meditative, contemplative person who needs six or seven hours a day in silence. The operative word is “needs,” for his own spiritual regeneration. He makes regular formal confessions and all …
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The Bishop Who Signs Himself as “Boy”

Review for The Friend, UK Quaker journal
By Paul Oestreicher

I am suffering from acute withdrawal symptoms. Never before has reading a book had this effect on me. This life of Desmond Tutu, which I could hardly put down, is not only the work of a sensitive and perceptive journalist but of a person so intuitive, so inside his subject, that this could almost be an autobiography — almost, but not quite, for John Allen who has long worked closely with Desmond Tutu can also stand back and look at the man …
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Extraordinary, fallible Tutu

The Natal Witness, Pietermaritzburg
Tue, 12 Dec 2006
Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu celebrated his 75th birthday in October. Two books commemorate this celebration. RON NICOLSON reviews them.

John Allen in Rabble Rouser for Peace: the authorized biography of Desmond Tutu captures the history of our life in the last part of the 20th century and lays bare for us again things that those of us old enough to remember have almost forgotten, and that those born after the end of apartheid need to know about. Old names of villains and heroes, old associates, long filed away …
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A revolutionary peacemaker

Montreal Gazette, Canada  – Dec 2, 2006

Rabble Rouser for Peace: The Authorized Biography of Desmond Tutu, by John Allen (Free Press, 481 pages, $35.99), focuses on one of South Africa’s greatest icons, and it’s helpful in understanding why South Africa is still struggling with the after-effects of apartheid.

As much a history of South Africa’s apartheid regime as the personal story of Desmond Tutu, Nobel Peace Prize winner and retired Anglican archbishop, this book serves as a reminder of the price to be paid when governments exploit and abuse a population.