Brothers in spirit: the correspondence of Albert Schweitzer and William Larimer Mellon, Jr

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Scion of the Pittsburgh oil and banking family, William Larimer Mellon, Jr., was married, the father of three, and a successful rancher in Arizona when, at thirty-seven, he read a Life magazine article about Albert Schweitzer's "reverence for life" that guided his mission hospital in a remote area of Gabon, Africa. Mellon immediately wrote to the famous humanitarian in Lambarene, expressing admiration of Schweitzer's life of service and the wish to engage in similar work with his wife, Gwendolyn. Schweitzer's reply in March 1948 was a lengthy letter of realistic encouragement. In time, Mellon received his medical degree from Tulane University and later established a well-equipped hospital in one of the poorest regions of Haiti, where, with his wife, he spent the rest of his life working as a physician and a community development engineer. The hospital continues to thrive. Brothers in Spirit brings together sixty-five of the letters written between 1947 and Schweitzer's death in 1965. Presented here in both English and the original French, they eloquently tell the story of a comfortable life abandoned for the goal of serving humanity.

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About the author (1996)

Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1952. While still a young man he demonstrated extraordinary abilities in a wide range of pursuits, including science, theology, and music. In 1908 he published his magisterial study of the life and works of Johann Sebastian Bach. He studied medicine from 1905 to 1913 at the University of Strasbourg, then founded a hospital in French Equatorial Africa, where he spent most of the remainder of his life. Schweitzer used his Nobel Prize stipend to expand the hospital and to build a leper colony. His bookThe Quest of the Historical Jesus is also available from Johns Hopkins.