Google Groups no longer supports new Usenet posts or subscriptions. Historical content remains viewable.

12/4/97 Book review "SMM The Early Years"

Skip to first unread message

Damian J. Anderson

Dec 9, 1997, 3:00:00 AM12/9/97

December 4, 1997

(This book review was published in the October issue of
Unification News)

Sun Myung Moon: The Early Years, 1920-53
By Michael Breen

Reviewed by Chris Corcoran

This is a unique book, written by an English Unification church
member who has a broad journalistic background and a deep
understandfing of the Korean culture. These qualifications alone
would give Mr. Breen the necessary foundation to write Father's
biography. However, upon reading the first few chapters of his
book, it becomes apparent that the author's talents extend far
beyond journalism and propel this work into a seminal piece of

While the book surely must have been an arduous labor of love for
Mr. Breen, he is careful not to idealize Father's life story. The
sensitively crafted book aspires to set the record straight. Like any
good piece of research, it relies only on primary sources, those
people who had first hand knowledge of the stories they're
recounting. This is one of its main sources of power; the copious
footnotes at the end of each chapter testify to the exhaustive and
I'm sure exhausting research that went into the book.

Readers looking for controversy and scandal needn't waste their
time here. However, souls seriously thirsty for details in the life of
one of histories most complex and controversial figures can drink
deeply from this well. As Mr. Breen succinctly states in his preface,
"And so there are two Sun Myung Moons, the widely-known
disturber of society, and the man who doesn't want to hurt God's
feelings. This book is about the lesser-known man."

Beginning with Father's birth in 1920 and a fascinating account of
his ancestry and village, the book takes us in ten chapters to the
sending out of the first missionary in 1953 and the imminent
founding of the Unification Church in 1954. The book ends
abruptly at this point and I am told a sequel is in the works.
The author's ability to recount stories long familiar to most
Unificationists and breathe new life into them is due partly to his
extraordinary skills at conveying life in early 20th century Korea,
particularly the lives of Christian Koreans. The high drama of
Japanese colonization; the explosion of Christianity across the
peninsula; and the horrific Korean war are never allowed to
overshadow the main story line. In allowing the facts of Father's
life to speak for themselves, unvarnished and straight forward, the
greatest of all dramas unfolds as it should.

The book's greatness is also found in the hundreds of pieces of
new information, at least to this reader, which add colorization to
stories previously seen only in black and white. What was
previously a patchwork of stories about Father, unevenly pieced
together and often lacking in context and the human touch, now
emerges as a seamless tapestry.

For the disciple of Father, there is new spiritual life to be found in
these pages. They stand as a solid testimony to the trials,
tribulations and victories of the man we admire and love. For the
non-believer, or even the apostate member, this book may prove to
be even more valuable, for it provides a doorway for belief and
reconciliation. It's scholarly style of research and thoroughness
result in what may be for many people a bridge to Father more
easily crossed than theology alone can provide.

It's a book you can proudly hand to a friend or relative who is not in
the church and be confident that the book is the best we have to
date on Father's life. Until the time Father himself writes his auto-
biography, this book will be the standard by which all other's are

The Unification church, indeed the world, owes Mr. Breen its
gratitude for compiling these testimonies and writing them in such
a masterful way.

About The Author

Michael Breen is a consultant and writer who first went to Korea as
a correspondent in 1982. He covered North and South Korea at
different times for The Washington Times, The Guardian and The
Times. He was the president of the Seoul Foreign Correspondents'
Club for three years during South Korea's period of
democratization, and has traveled widely in North Korea. He is
married with three children, and lives in Sussex, England.

Sun Myung Moon: The Early Years 1920-53 by Michael Breen
(Refuge Books) will be available from HSA Publications for $14.95.
Please call 212 997-0050 x 225 to order your copy of his extremely
interesting book. A must read.

In Europe: Hans Tolzin. Tel: +49-711-990-5196,
Fax: +49-771-990-5197, Email:

In Britain: George Robertson. Tel: 0171-723-0721 ext. 111

0 new messages