This biography provides a versatile insight into the life, work, and thought of Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965). Nils Ole Oermann offers a detailed account of the multifaceted life of Albert Schweitzer who was a theologian, organist, philosopher, physician, and medical missionary. Schweitzer's life was not a straight path from the parsonage in Alsace to the University of Strasbourg, then on to the hospital in Lambarene, and ending with the Nobel Peace Prize in Oslo. In every life there are highs and lows, victories and defeats-and Schweitzer's life was no exception. These ups and downs, however, are barely discernible in Schweitzer's 1931 autobiography, Out of my Life and Thought, where he presents his life as an enormous, purposefully constructed edifice, the cornerstone of which was the principle of Reverence for Life, and the almost inevitable outcome of which was the Nobel Peace Prize. To date, biographers, journalists, and hagiographers have told and retold the story of Schweitzer following this basic pattern with relatively little critical modification. Their Schweitzer was a man whose demeanour and charisma set him apart from other intellectual giants of his time.
But not everything Schweitzer records in his autobiography corresponds with what is found in the archives and in his unpublished writings. It is on the basis of these historical sources and more recent publications that Oermann attempts to sketch a more realistic picture of Albert Schweitzer. Oermann draws on newly uncovered personal papers which shed light on Schweitzer's dealings with the East German authorities and his role in the anti-nuclear movement. He also builds on a number of interviews from those associated with Schweitzer-most notably his daughter.
Albert Schweitzer by Nils Ole Oermann was published by Oxford University Press in December 2016. The ISBN for Albert Schweitzer is 9780198784227.