Sunday, 3 June 2012

Book Review: George Washington Carver

Written by: John Perry
Published by: Thomas Nelson
 

I once read somewhere that a good book never attracts attention to itself. Instead it draws readers to the issues it speaks about, allowing individuals to see situations as they are. The biography of George Washington Carver by John Perry is such a book. Without rambling or fancy words, it shows the life of an inventor in its glorious and inglorious light. The book reveals George Washington Carver’s humility, work ethic, kindness as well as his occasional vanity and stubbornness.

The book starts with a background of Carver’s childhood in Missouri as a son of slaves. The author takes time to reflect on the brutal and unforgiving social stratum at that time telling us how Carver and his parents are kidnapped and never seen again. Incidentally, little Carver survives the ordeal and is rescued.

Carver, as a boy, is sickly and not made for hard physical work on the fields. Therefore he is mostly indoors where he does housework like laundry and cooking. He also learns much about tending to plants from his master’s wife. Plant life soon becomes of great interest to young Carver as he would later put himself a lot to learn horticulture.

Despite poverty and racism, George Carver rises to a high position in science. But being successful as a Negro did not accord him equal privileges with his Caucasian counterparts. George Carver stays true to his vision of helping poor black farmers sustain themselves financially, by developing over two hundred uses for peanut. He also turns down Thomas Edison who offers him a job in his lab for a huge salary. Carver’s special project on peanut earns him the name “Peanut Man” and made him into a national hero.

The biography of George Washington Carver by John Perry is a tribute to a man who dares to do things differently even when the odds against him are astronomical. An inspiring story.

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