Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Review: Kicking Ass and Saving Souls

Kicking Ass and Saving Souls: A True Story of a Life Over the Line by David Matthews

Publication Date: July 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography
Pages: Hardcover, 272pp
ISBN-13: 9781594202964
ISBN: 1594202966

(Received for an honest review from TLC Tours)

David Matthews on the WEB: website (from Wikipedia), facebook (fan page)




Stefan Templeton was born a child of extremes. He spent half his childhood with his African American philosopher father in the decaying ghetto of Baltimore in the 1970s. The other half was spent with his Norwegian mother in the wealthiest enclaves of Europe. His father was a brilliant academic, an intense disciplinarian, and a lethal martial artist. His mother, an aristocrat by birth, was a mystic and a healer. By the time Stefan was nine, he spoke four languages. By the time he was seventeen, he had a black belt and could take apart a .45 automatic in the dark.

Things got heavier from there. Stefan's wanderlust and action jones took him all over the world. Before he was twenty-one, he'd hunted in Burgundy, brawled in Oxford, served as a medicine man in Columbia, escaped death on the Amazon, and trained to be a deep-sea diver on Cousteau's Calypso.

At twenty-five, love for the mother of his first child settled him in Norway but didn't settle him down. He drifted into a labyrinthine criminal underworld, where he pulled off an enormous jewel heist and became a player in a European smuggling consortium. But his conscience demanded that his life be about more than the next adrenaline fix, the next adventure, the next score. His road to redemption led him to some of the bleakest corners of the globe, where he finally found a focus for his life in humanitarian relief work: on the beach in the wake of an Indonesian tsunami and on the ground following the Sudanese civil war. That was just the beginning.

Kicking Ass and Saving Souls is a true statement to the capacity of the human spirit, a mythic adventure made palpable, lyrical, and human by David Matthews - Stefan's childhood friend and sometimes harshest critic.


Author David Matthews blows the non-fiction world out of the water with his gritty, emotional portrayal of his childhood friend Stefan Templeton. Kicking Ass and Saving Souls chronicles Stefan's life and the adventuresome spirit that led him all over the world in search of the next rush, until a moment of clarity in Taiwan changed his life forever. Matthew's no-nonsense style and sharp wit make this book read like a movie script. Full of everything from martial arts to jewel heists this book is a must read for biography and adventure fans.

Stefan Templeton's life reads like an adventure story. Growing up the son of an African American scholar and a Norwegian aristocrat, Stefan was well traveled and well educated at a young age. His charismatic attitude and lust for adventure drew people to him like a magnet. But he didn't seem to have a focus. He jumped from one adrenaline rushing event to the next in his life, trying to find is place in the world. He did everything from deep-sea diving with Cousteau to pulling off one of the biggest jewel heists in history, but he wasn't good at finishing the things he started. Always looking for another high, another river to cross, another battle to fight. Until he came to the conclusion that there had to be something more to life, something he was suited for, something he could believe in...

David Matthews tells the riveting tale of Stefan's life with great fortitude and wit. He describes this man as a force of nature and makes readers believe it. As an author he doesn't pull any punches, he tells it like it is and let's the reader make their own judgement about his childhood friend. This book was engrossing, emotional and very hard to put down. I could not imagine so much happening to one individual in one life time. Stefan is truly a man of many talents and someone who has a lust for life that is unparalleled. At one point I thought some of this had to be made up, but after doing a little research online, Matthew's portrayal of Stefan Templeton seems to be spot on.

From his youth through is young adult years, Matthew's shows readers a young man who takes life by the horns but doesn't seem to know what he wants to do with it. I liked the fact that Matthew's allowed readers to see Stefan at several different stages in his journey to the man he ultimately becomes. We see him as mixed race young man all the way to a man who has created a humanitarian relief organization that focuses on saving souls literally. His work in Indonesia and the Sudan is amazing and I am so glad that he found a way to focus his love for adventure in such a powerful and moving way. Matthew's brings him to life for readers who may not know about SPEAR and what it does. I certainly didn't know that the man who created it had such an amazing and varied life.

Readers who enjoy biographies and memoirs will be especially keen on this one. It has something for every type of reader. Adventure, emotion, more adventure, humanitarian efforts, more adventure, a little romance, more adventure... I think you get the drift. This is truly what I would call a page turner. I kept wondering from one page to next, what he was going to get himself into next. It's a very well written book and evokes so much emotion from the reader it could seem exhausting if wasn't just so entertaining. I recommend it to all my readers, even if you don't like non-fiction, I can almost guarantee you'll like this one.

Kicking Ass and Saving Souls is available NOW from you favorite bookseller.

I'm giving this one 5 out of 5 apples from my book bag!

David Matthews is the aItalicuthor of the memoir Ace of Spades, which was selected as an Editor's Choice by The New York Times. Matthews's work has also appeared in Salon, The New York Times, The Huffington Post, The Washington Post, and The Autobiographer's Handbook: The 826 National Guide to Writing Your Memoir. He lives in New York City.


heathertlc said...

Wow, this one sounds fantastic!

Thanks for being a part of the tour. I'm featuring your review on TLC's Facebook page today.

Tore said...

I would love to read this book. Please enter me in contest.