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Strength in What Remains summary

Tracy Kidder

A Journey of Remembrance and Forgiveness

4 (22 ratings)
18 mins

Brief summary

Strength in What Remains by Tracy Kidder is a non-fiction book that tells the story of a man who escaped genocide in Burundi and started a new life in America. It explores the themes of resilience, kindness, and the power of human connection.

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    Strength in What Remains
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    Deo was a cowherd, and though violence and injustice pervaded the educational system, he excelled in school.

    Deo’s background is humble. The settlements where he lived lacked electricity and a safe water supply, so infectious and parasitic illnesses were ubiquitous. Without a public health system or clinic at their disposal, the community simply had to suffer through these hardships.

    He spent his youth in Burundi, where land was the only natural resource and, along with cows, the only form of wealth. The prized possession of Deo’s family was a large herd of cows. For farming and shepherding societies, such a flock was a source of prestige, and also a sort of insurance against times of scarcity.

    Deo’s father built a small farm, where Deo and his siblings worked the land and tended the cows. Despite this simple lifestyle, Deo’s parents believed in the power of education, and were determined to send their children to school.

    Even though Deo excelled in school, the violence and political discrimination that pervaded the Burundian educational system made things difficult. Not a day passed at Deo’s school that someone didn’t feel the sting of the teachers’ ruler or a eucalyptus branch, the punishment meted out for any and all infractions – tardiness, for example, or arriving at school with an uncompleted homework assignment.

    To make matters worse, when Deo was growing up, Burundi was ruled by a succession of military dictators, all of whom belonged to a division of the population called the Tutsi. Similarly, the majority of secondary school teachers and university professors in Burundi also belonged to this group.

    And Deo’s family belonged to the Tutsis, too. However, they had no political connections. For a country boy like Deo, the only ticket out of his village was good grades and a high mark on the nationwide exams administered to sixth graders. Luckily, Deo scored well enough to make the cut.

    He excelled in middle school, and was eventually admitted to one of Burundi’s best high schools. There, he received outstanding grades that enabled him to enroll at the medical school at the University of Burundi.

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    What is Strength in What Remains about?

    Strength in What Remains (2009) tells the story of a man who, after fleeing war-torn Burundi, is able to make his dreams a reality with the help of a few kind souls. By following his story, you’ll learn all about how the small actions of a few good people can make a huge difference for a community on the other side of the world.

    Strength in What Remains Review

    Strength in What Remains (2009) by Tracy Kidder is a captivating account of survival and resilience. Here's why this book is definitely worth reading:

    • Packed with real-life stories of extraordinary individuals, it offers a powerful exploration of the human spirit and its ability to endure.
    • By uncovering the challenges and triumphs faced by the book's protagonist, the narrative becomes not only remarkable but also deeply inspiring.
    • Kidder's meticulous research and attention to detail bring to life a story that is both moving and thought-provoking, ensuring that every page holds your interest.

    Best quote from Strength in What Remains

    Germans claimed the kingdom of Burundi and Rwanda at the end of the nineteenth century; after World War I, the Belgians ran the countries until the early 1960s.

    —Tracy Kidder
    example alt text

    Who should read Strength in What Remains?

    • Anyone interested in refugees' stories 
    • People curious about the Hutu-Tutsi conflict
    • Established and aspiring philanthropists

    About the Author

    Tracy Kidder has received many awards for his work, including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award and the Robert F. Kennedy Award. He’s the author of Among Schoolchildren, The Soul of a New Machine and Mountains Beyond Mountains, among many other books.

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    Strength in What Remains FAQs 

    What is the main message of Strength in What Remains?

    The main message of Strength in What Remains is the power of resilience and determination in the face of adversity.

    How long does it take to read Strength in What Remains?

    The reading time for Strength in What Remains varies, but it typically takes several hours. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Strength in What Remains a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Strength in What Remains is a compelling read that offers a powerful perspective on the human spirit. It's definitely worth reading!

    Who is the author of Strength in What Remains?

    The author of Strength in What Remains is Tracy Kidder.

    What to read after Strength in What Remains?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Strength in What Remains, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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