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Mother Teresa Hardcover – September 24, 1997
Neither hatchet job nor hagiography, this biography of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate was completed before Mother Teresa's death in September 1997. It includes a chronological account of Albanian-born Agnes Bojaxhiu's early years before she founded the Missionaries of Charity in 1947. But it focuses primarily on "compelling issues which arise from her work," including a judicious evaluation of charges that Mother Teresa accepted money from dictators and that her order sometimes provided inadequate medical treatment. Anne Sebba also probes with perception the social forces underpinning Mother Teresa's lionization in the West. This is an exceptionally well-balanced assessment of Calcutta's "saint of the gutters."
From Library Journal
Journalist Sebba (Battling for News, Trafalgar, 1995) tells the story of Mother Teresa both chronologically and thematically (focusing on such issues as medicine, theology, politics, and ego, for instance) and also examines criticisms of Mother Teresa, acknowledging that no synthesis is possible because of the enormous variety of views. She succeeds in telling her subject's story in the first half of her book but then sets criteria for judging Mother Teresa that sometimes seem extraneous to her subject's aims and achievements. The author does not understand the relationship between Mother Teresa and the Indian press and criticizes her for developing a canny political instinct, though she was born into a household where politics and business were pursued with equal elan. Sebba's criticisms often don't lend clarity to the depth and complexity of Mother Teresa. Recognizing this, the reader can still move forward to consider Mother Teresa as a woman, religious leader, and care-giver to the poor. Not recommended.?Leroy Hommerding, Citrus Cty. Lib. System, Inverness, Fla.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
Anne Sebba's "Mother Teresa" was recommended to me by Bejtullah Destani, a leading scholar of Albanian history and, incidentally, also one of the people mentioned in Sebba's acknowledgements.
Sebba's book does provide a far fairer account of Mother Teresa's life. It describes her childhood and early years in fascinating detail. It also discusses the criticisms of the good lady's activities in a sensible and balanced way. I detected that although Sebba was not as violently sceptical about Mother Teresa as Christopher Hitchens, she is far from uncritical.
What struck me was the number of people described by Sebba who have done at least as much good for the poor as Mother Teresa, but who have gone largely unrecognised. Sebba discusses this in her book, and the way that Mother T was so successful in attracting the world's 'celebrities' to back her cause. Other equally benevolent workers in Calcutta and elsewhere have failed to do this, although in many ways it seems that their causes are more worthwhile than Teresa's.
Sebba's book is informative but is not a hagiography. For an uncritical appraisal of Mother Teresa's life, there is a surfeit of books. Sebba has written a readable, informative, and far from biased account of the woman who was canonised abnormally soon after her death in 1997.
Review by author of "Albania on my Mind"
A crack in the sidewalk may be insurmountable to an ant. It does not mean it is insurmonuntable. Mother T. Did what she had to do to save starving people in the most horrible of conditions. Do you judge her because she used every means possible to accomplish this? Do you fault her because her method is more the method of one born in 1910 and a stranger to the political exigencies of the author's agenda or the agenda of those others whom she intimidated by her plainess. To even give print to her very passable shortcommings in the face of her most ordinary training and the enormity of the task she was courageous to undertake is snobbery. Sebba is a snob. She wrote her piece to be counter to the then existing general satisfaction for the work of Mother T. She didn't write her piece to be a biographer.