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Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography

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During her lifetime, Mother Teresa resisted having her full biography written. Then, in 1991, realizing that accounts of her life and work could inspire others, she gave Kathryn Spink, who had long been intimately involved with the work of Mother Teresa and her order and co-workers around the world, permission to proceed with a complete biography on the understanding that During her lifetime, Mother Teresa resisted having her full biography written. Then, in 1991, realizing that accounts of her life and work could inspire others, she gave Kathryn Spink, who had long been intimately involved with the work of Mother Teresa and her order and co-workers around the world, permission to proceed with a complete biography on the understanding that it would not be finished until after her death. Here, now, is the complete story of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a woman regarded by millions as a contemporary saint for her dedication to serving the poorest of the poor. From her childhood in Balkans as a member of a remarkably openhearted and religious family to her work in India, from attending the victims of war-torn Beirut to pleading with George Bush and Saddam Hussein to choose peace over war. Mother Teresa was driven by an absolute faith. She consistently claimed that she was simply responding to Christ's boundless love for her and for all of humanity. When People magazine interviewed Kathryn Spink for their cover story on Mother Teresa 's death, Spink told them: "What one has to understand about Mother Teresa is that she sees Christ in every person she encounters." Clad in her white peasant sari with blue edging, Mother Teresa brought to the world a great and living lesson in joyful and selfless love.


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During her lifetime, Mother Teresa resisted having her full biography written. Then, in 1991, realizing that accounts of her life and work could inspire others, she gave Kathryn Spink, who had long been intimately involved with the work of Mother Teresa and her order and co-workers around the world, permission to proceed with a complete biography on the understanding that During her lifetime, Mother Teresa resisted having her full biography written. Then, in 1991, realizing that accounts of her life and work could inspire others, she gave Kathryn Spink, who had long been intimately involved with the work of Mother Teresa and her order and co-workers around the world, permission to proceed with a complete biography on the understanding that it would not be finished until after her death. Here, now, is the complete story of Mother Teresa of Calcutta, founder of the Missionaries of Charity and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, a woman regarded by millions as a contemporary saint for her dedication to serving the poorest of the poor. From her childhood in Balkans as a member of a remarkably openhearted and religious family to her work in India, from attending the victims of war-torn Beirut to pleading with George Bush and Saddam Hussein to choose peace over war. Mother Teresa was driven by an absolute faith. She consistently claimed that she was simply responding to Christ's boundless love for her and for all of humanity. When People magazine interviewed Kathryn Spink for their cover story on Mother Teresa 's death, Spink told them: "What one has to understand about Mother Teresa is that she sees Christ in every person she encounters." Clad in her white peasant sari with blue edging, Mother Teresa brought to the world a great and living lesson in joyful and selfless love.

30 review for Mother Teresa: A Complete Authorized Biography

  1. 4 out of 5

    lp

    Mother Teresa was so extreme in her devotion to the poor that reading about her made me feel like two cents. I actually wasn't enjoying the book that much for awhile, it was basically: M.T. opens a church. M.T. chooses to sleep in a pile of dirt for two years. M.T. battles the Vatican to get her way. Repeat. But I felt like a beeyotch if I couldn't even READ a book about M.T. Like, she could sleep in a pile of dirt so the least I can do is read about it. In that sense, I suggest that NOBODY PICK Mother Teresa was so extreme in her devotion to the poor that reading about her made me feel like two cents. I actually wasn't enjoying the book that much for awhile, it was basically: M.T. opens a church. M.T. chooses to sleep in a pile of dirt for two years. M.T. battles the Vatican to get her way. Repeat. But I felt like a beeyotch if I couldn't even READ a book about M.T. Like, she could sleep in a pile of dirt so the least I can do is read about it. In that sense, I suggest that NOBODY PICKS UP THIS BOOK. It is cursed in that way, the second you touch it you will feel guilt to finish it, no matter how torturous it may be. Or maybe that's just me. I wouldn't risk it. The funny thing is, Mother Teresa wasn't even all that religious. I mean, she said she was, and she said she did it all for God. But really this was a book about a woman who was fanatical in her drive to sacrifice everything for the poor. Everything. If she hadn't been brought up Catholic, she would just be some crazy lady sleeping in the dirt touching the untouchables, I swear. (But still being AWESOME. I don't mean to belittle her.) But she really butted heads with the Catholic Church, and I hate to say this, but the things about the Catholic Church she clung to seemed to be just out of convenience. Like abortion. She was totally against abortion. This part puzzled me: The other day, I picked up a bundle from the street. It looked like a bundle of clothes that somebody had left there, but it was a child. Then I looked: legs, hands, everything was crippled. No wonder someone had left it like that. But how can a mother who did that face God/ But one thing I can tell you; the mother -- a poor woman -- left the child like that, but she did not kill the child, and this is something that we have to learn from our women, the love for the child. I guess I just have a hard time seeing how this is a good thing. How every baby born, under every single circumstance, is a blessing. That doesn't seem realistic to me. M.T.'s answer to all this is, "do not abort children. Give them to me. I will care for every single one." And she meant it. But really, Mamma T? Are you nuts? An interesting character entered the scene: Brother Andrew, the co-founder of the Missionary Brothers of Charity, the male branch of M.T.'s organization. He seemed like a cool dude, a bit more down to earth than M.T. I mean, M.T. was down to earth in the sense of like, she didn't take 5 hours to get ready in the morning and didn't insist that her belt matched her shoes. But she was so outrageous it's like in her obsession with being low-maintenance, she was extremely high-maintenance. Brother Andrew actually ended up getting booted -- hate to spoil the surprise -- because he drank too much. But come on... he was doing a TON OF good shit. I say, let him have his party. Interesting character #2: Princess Diana, who died a few days before M.T. and had similar missions. I wonder what M.T. really thought about Di. There's some funky juxtaposition going on there, with those two. But I haven't figured out what it is yet. I'll stop blabbering now. Surely you are totally unmotivated to read the book now. Go get drunk, instead!

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    This is probably the most complete biography of Mother Teresa that I have read. The book author neatly summarizes her early life, covering aspects of her family and upbringing and then provides great detail of her religious, missionary and charitable activities. While there is a lot of detail about what she did and where she went, the spiritual aspects and impact that she made is missing. It seems to be more of an encyclopedic version of what she did, rather than why and how she did it. The numb This is probably the most complete biography of Mother Teresa that I have read. The book author neatly summarizes her early life, covering aspects of her family and upbringing and then provides great detail of her religious, missionary and charitable activities. While there is a lot of detail about what she did and where she went, the spiritual aspects and impact that she made is missing. It seems to be more of an encyclopedic version of what she did, rather than why and how she did it. The numbers of people helped, the locations of the houses and activities she participated in are helpful to understand her impact, but there is very little insight or analysis into the heart and mind of Mother Teresa.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Keegan Taylor

    I decided to take a focused approach to learning about people I've heard about all my life but knew very little about. I'm starting with Mother Teresa (soon to be followed by Gandhi and Mao Zedong). The biography is good, but the woman is incredible! I'm still in her early years in India. I am inspired by her dedicated choice to be committed to the work of God. She says, "Holiness is not the luxury of the few. It is a simple duty for you and for me." Mother Teresa's life leads me to believe that I decided to take a focused approach to learning about people I've heard about all my life but knew very little about. I'm starting with Mother Teresa (soon to be followed by Gandhi and Mao Zedong). The biography is good, but the woman is incredible! I'm still in her early years in India. I am inspired by her dedicated choice to be committed to the work of God. She says, "Holiness is not the luxury of the few. It is a simple duty for you and for me." Mother Teresa's life leads me to believe that if she can do SO much for God, I can certainly do at least a little more than I am doing. First order of business: Make adjustments to my attitude. I suspect reading more about Mother Teresa will put my whiny-ness, materialistic tendencies, and negativity in perspective, too. ...All right, here's the truth: I am inspired by Mother Theresa, especially by her wisdom and compassion, but I tired of this book because it's so impersonal. It's hard to see who she really is. She only allowed it to be written with the hope that it would draw people closer to God; because of that she didn't give very much personal information to her biographer. It's an interesting concept, but I think more personal information would have added to my appreciation for divinity. In the end, I didn't finish the book.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Devin Thorpe

    First, I should note that in rating this book five stars, I really intend to rate Mother Teresa five stars. The biography was certainly well researched and well written. I couldn't help but think, however, that there were telling anecdotes missing from the book. I didn't ever feel like I was in the slums with her; the author kept me outside looking in, trying to get a glimpse of the real Mother Teresa in action. The Life of Mother Teresa is unparalleled since Jesus Christ himself walked on the ea First, I should note that in rating this book five stars, I really intend to rate Mother Teresa five stars. The biography was certainly well researched and well written. I couldn't help but think, however, that there were telling anecdotes missing from the book. I didn't ever feel like I was in the slums with her; the author kept me outside looking in, trying to get a glimpse of the real Mother Teresa in action. The Life of Mother Teresa is unparalleled since Jesus Christ himself walked on the earth. What's more, she has created a society, the Missionaries of Charity, that perpetuates her kindness to the poorest of the poor around the world. I certainly find myself wanting to learn more about her. When I finished the book, I felt genuinely uncomfortable and had to spend some time thinking about why that was. Ultimately, I think I felt that way because I recognized that I am neither as good a person as Mother Teresa nor likely to become such. I will have to find my own rhythm for leaving my own mark on the world.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Amy Meek

    I never actually finished this one. I got to about 65%. It was quite a slog and there was a lot of unexplained Catholic jargon. Paragraphs were really long. Dates went back and forth without much rhyme or reason. There was clearly a lot of research done, I got a few good tidbits but it was more like reading a list of things she had done rather than getting to know her as a woman (though I can appreciate how hard that would have been). IMO some heavy editing on this would have made it a more appro I never actually finished this one. I got to about 65%. It was quite a slog and there was a lot of unexplained Catholic jargon. Paragraphs were really long. Dates went back and forth without much rhyme or reason. There was clearly a lot of research done, I got a few good tidbits but it was more like reading a list of things she had done rather than getting to know her as a woman (though I can appreciate how hard that would have been). IMO some heavy editing on this would have made it a more approachable book.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Leah

    This is the worst book I have ever read. The author does not know how to form a sentence correctly and is averse to using commas. It was a very confusing, slow, dry, boring read, and it was not written chronologically. Wading through this book was a complete and utter waste of time.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Olga

    Mother Teresa's life and times is pure inspiration from her early calling till her death. She knew in her heart that God granted her the task to devote herself to Him and yet she struggled until that becomes clear. Once it was, her existence was offered as a sacrifice to the Poor. She didn't care about activism but to comfort Christ's thirst through the poor. Many would critise her for not making looong sermons about God's love but theory wasn't her point. She was able to realise there was need f Mother Teresa's life and times is pure inspiration from her early calling till her death. She knew in her heart that God granted her the task to devote herself to Him and yet she struggled until that becomes clear. Once it was, her existence was offered as a sacrifice to the Poor. She didn't care about activism but to comfort Christ's thirst through the poor. Many would critise her for not making looong sermons about God's love but theory wasn't her point. She was able to realise there was need for HER to be God's instrument who would demonstrate His love... which way else than feeding the poorest of the poor and giving love to the unloved? A demonstrated Love powerful enough to save souls. Will we be God's pencils in a suffering world or we will be stubbornly congratulating ourselves for our faulse-self-created holiness inside churches?

  8. 4 out of 5

    Melissa

    I liked this book and I'm glad I read it, though at times it was a bit slow. I gained a greater appreciation for Mother Teresa. I was truly impressed by the example of her sweet mother. It read: "The family table continued to be a gathering place for the poor for whom she cared with a gentle warmth. Years later Lazar would recall questioning his mother as to who the people were who shared his meals were. 'Some of them are our relations,' was the response, 'but all of them are our people.' No one I liked this book and I'm glad I read it, though at times it was a bit slow. I gained a greater appreciation for Mother Teresa. I was truly impressed by the example of her sweet mother. It read: "The family table continued to be a gathering place for the poor for whom she cared with a gentle warmth. Years later Lazar would recall questioning his mother as to who the people were who shared his meals were. 'Some of them are our relations,' was the response, 'but all of them are our people.' No one ever left empty-handed." Mother Teresa helped so many people, but I appreciated her dedication to help individuals. She said "We all have a duty to serve God where we feel called," she maintained, "I feel called to help individuals, not to interest myself in structures or institutions. I do not feel like judging or condemning." We would all do well to emulate this woman.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Hernandez

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was not exactly what I expected. I was hoping for more about her childhood and beginning of her life that lead to the very public later life she led. This book is truly inspiring and shows her life from where she was born to after she died. I understand her charities she established and things she set up are a big part of who she was, but I was hoping for more about her as a person and what she went through as a authorized biography rather than pages and pages of information about who was w This was not exactly what I expected. I was hoping for more about her childhood and beginning of her life that lead to the very public later life she led. This book is truly inspiring and shows her life from where she was born to after she died. I understand her charities she established and things she set up are a big part of who she was, but I was hoping for more about her as a person and what she went through as a authorized biography rather than pages and pages of information about who was within her organizations and who led each one and who approved them and where they were and so on and so on. It was mostly beautiful and touching I just wish there was more of her.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Alysha Gaskins

    I absolutely loved this. I think we all know Mother Teresa as a heavenly saint. But this book puts it such a diverse light. It showed that she was just as human and made people angry because of how she refused to back down. She didn't change her beliefs in things regardless of how society would see it. Her passion drives her to make such a difference. The only thing I didn't not like is how the author continuously messes up the time line. I absolutely loved this. I think we all know Mother Teresa as a heavenly saint. But this book puts it such a diverse light. It showed that she was just as human and made people angry because of how she refused to back down. She didn't change her beliefs in things regardless of how society would see it. Her passion drives her to make such a difference. The only thing I didn't not like is how the author continuously messes up the time line.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    Great and inspirational learning about her; didn't much like the writing Great and inspirational learning about her; didn't much like the writing

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kathy Marler

    It was interesting to know about Mother Teresa and her extrodinary humanitarian service.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Blsaldana

    "Certainly it seemed that there was in Mother Teresa something which people of a wide variety of faiths could value and to which they could respond." That is exactly how I felt reading this biography of a woman I had heard of but never really got to know much about all she did, how she did it and the impact she had in the world. I am truly amazed and glad I kept this book in my shelf for years. Picked it and dusted if off after reading Martin Luther's biography. Two giants of faith who God used "Certainly it seemed that there was in Mother Teresa something which people of a wide variety of faiths could value and to which they could respond." That is exactly how I felt reading this biography of a woman I had heard of but never really got to know much about all she did, how she did it and the impact she had in the world. I am truly amazed and glad I kept this book in my shelf for years. Picked it and dusted if off after reading Martin Luther's biography. Two giants of faith who God used to transform and show the world that God is the same yesterday, today and always, seeking those who will surrender their all.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Amber

    Kathryn Spink does a wonderful job capturing the spirit of Mother Teresa in this authorized biography. At times it seems overwhelmingly packed with factual information about Mother Teresa and her related affiliations, which contends to show Spink's thorough research, but can sometimes make the text seem dense. While clearly biased to favor Mother Teresa, Spink does portray the positive and negative views of her. Overall, very good! Mother Teresa lived and inspiring life of service to the poor. Kathryn Spink does a wonderful job capturing the spirit of Mother Teresa in this authorized biography. At times it seems overwhelmingly packed with factual information about Mother Teresa and her related affiliations, which contends to show Spink's thorough research, but can sometimes make the text seem dense. While clearly biased to favor Mother Teresa, Spink does portray the positive and negative views of her. Overall, very good! Mother Teresa lived and inspiring life of service to the poor.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Carolyn

    Interesting to learn more about this special woman. She learned how to help people when they were so weak, oversaw their nurturing including teaching them self-reliance skills, and so much more. She was a hero by a life of doing the small and simple things. She truly glorified God, and with her light helped draw so many others to serve Christ. Very inspiring woman.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shammy Narayanan

    This book makes an earnest attempt to take us deep into thought process of the Mother , her conviction her unquestionable allegiance to the church , her commitment to serve the poorest of the poor. By covering even the controversies author had done a comprehensive job in highlighting all aspects of her life . A good read for any open mind with a genuine interest to know about this Ma

  17. 5 out of 5

    Dianne Ragland

    Mother Teresa This book inspired me to think about children who are hungry and sick and have little opportunity to achieve educationally. I don't know how many children are without enough food and without necessities . Mother Teresa chose to live a life of poverty in order to reach children in India. Her life is an inspiration! Mother Teresa This book inspired me to think about children who are hungry and sick and have little opportunity to achieve educationally. I don't know how many children are without enough food and without necessities . Mother Teresa chose to live a life of poverty in order to reach children in India. Her life is an inspiration!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Patrick

    I was disappointed with this biography of a remarkable woman. The author gives us a detailed account of what MT did but we really don't get to know her as a person. Maybe that is impossible. MT wanted to make sure that the attention was not on her. But we come away wishing that we knew much more about her. I was disappointed with this biography of a remarkable woman. The author gives us a detailed account of what MT did but we really don't get to know her as a person. Maybe that is impossible. MT wanted to make sure that the attention was not on her. But we come away wishing that we knew much more about her.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dan Nuxoll

    I must start by saying that I consider Mother Teresa one of the great people of the 20th century, and this book documents the reasons that I admire her so much. The author clearly has a similar opinion of Mother Teresa so she tends to dismiss criticisms of Mother Teresa's work. One chapter amounts to a catalog of those criticisms. The problem with this approach is that her work raises some serious issues, and her work is only a partial solution to the problems she was concerned with. This is not I must start by saying that I consider Mother Teresa one of the great people of the 20th century, and this book documents the reasons that I admire her so much. The author clearly has a similar opinion of Mother Teresa so she tends to dismiss criticisms of Mother Teresa's work. One chapter amounts to a catalog of those criticisms. The problem with this approach is that her work raises some serious issues, and her work is only a partial solution to the problems she was concerned with. This is not so much a criticism of Mother Teresa as a recognition that she is limited, hardly a radical proposition. In many ways, there is not much of a story to tell after Mother Teresa begins her work. The first chapters that discuss how an Albanian found her way to the slums of Calcutta are the bulk of the story. After that, the story is largely that of establishing new communities, accepting awards, traveling, dealing with health problems, and meeting celebrities as well as some institutional history of the Missionaries of Charity. She was apparently a very stable person who was much the same at the end of her life as she was when she first began to work with the poorest of the poor. In short, her life does not provide much material for a biography, except for the first years.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Peggii

    Incredible research on the part of the author and a tremendous task to document the life of such an iconic character. Gained more insight into her life. It was hard to read at times but still totally worth it.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Autumn

    This was a wonderful book on her life; however, a tad dry. Hence only four stars. Her life is an amazing testimony to the unending love of Christ, and how that love, when shared with others, can so change the world and overcome hate.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Susan

    At first I was intimidated by the length of the book . But I was mesmerized by Mother’s devotion and the frustrations she experienced. And her never ending commitment and goal. A great read . Slow and steady.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jonas Stephan Johnson

    Good day all well i faith this is a good book a story through a splendid person god bless really have it good.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sherri Sutton

    I found the life of Mother Teresa to be very interesting. What a wonderful saint she was, called at such a young age, steady, stable and faithful all her life. Amazing.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Ivan Krpan

    Amazing person! Great read about Mother Teresa. What a fascinating person who achieved so much without care for herself. He story and achievements are well worth reading.

  26. 5 out of 5

    vitalija

    Brilliant book I am very happy that though this book I have found out more about Mother’s Teresa life. She is a beautiful example of how to live in this world.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Lacey Stluka

    Changed my life

  28. 5 out of 5

    Chad A. Pentecost

    No biblical references Lacking in scripture citations and spiritual lessons. Too secular of a work for a supposed godly woman. I’m very disappointed.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Heather McMaster

    Reads like a dry timeline and made me hate her.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Drue Schwitters

    I read this book because I did a presentation on Mother Teresa for a class. It took me a long time to get through because it was so information-heavy, but Mother Teresa did a lot in her lifetime, and I thought this book did a great job of highlighting everything and including criticisms, too. Mother Teresa was an amazing woman, and this book is a great resource if anyone wants to know more about her life.

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