I, Tarzan: Against All Odds

An Inspiring Real-Life Story of Courage, Hope, and True Resilience

Non-Fiction - Memoir
319 Pages
Reviewed on 07/15/2021
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    Book Review

Reviewed by Grant Leishman for Readers' Favorite

I, Tarzan: Against All Odds – An inspiring real-life story of courage, hope, and true resilience by Jean-Philippe Soulé absolutely is what the subtitle to the story suggests. We follow Philippe from his troubled youth, where he was an alcoholic thug by the age of thirteen, shunned, constantly belittled, and unloved by those he thought his heroes - his mother and father - through his successful engagement as a famed mountain commando in the French military, to his sojourn to the United States and his seemingly perfect success in the world of high-tech. Philippe, from a very young age, had grandiose dreams of how his future life would be. Like his heroes, the fictional Tarzan, the famed French underwater explorer, Jacques Cousteau, and numerous mountaineers, Philippe wanted to be a modern-day explorer, climbing the mountains, exploring the jungles, and meeting with and learning from the indigenous people of the world. As a high-school dropout, none of this seemed to be a real possibility for Philippe, especially to his family who suggested he look for an apprenticeship to secure his future. Against all odds, Philippe, after enlisting in French compulsory military training, set out to become one of the elites in the French military – a member of the fabled mountain commando units. This book tells us of Philippe’s journey to maturity, never losing sight of his ultimate goal – to be free to explore and live the life he dreamed of, not a life dictated to him by others.

Having read many books of courage and self-help over the years, it takes a lot to move me emotionally but I, Tarzan: Against All Odds is one of those books that can open one’s eyes, often jaundiced in this age by mediocrity and a lack of true ambition. What author Jean-Philippe Soulé was able to do in the short time covered by this narrative is simply amazing. Faced with such skepticism by those he loved of his ability to make anything of himself, the author never once gave in to the relentless pressure to take the easy, the comfortable, the financially secure route. He was true to himself at all times and truly lived by his self-described nature. “When faced with an easy or difficult route, I would always take the difficult route.” He truly believed life was for living and epitomized the saying: “Don’t die with your music still inside of you.” Of all the things Philippe has achieved, he can definitely add writing a readable and excitable memoir to his list. This story just flows off the page beautifully and despite the author admitting he had the biggest of egos and that was part of what drove him so hard, there were real aspects of deep humility and understanding of the human condition mixed in with that enormous ego. This was a thoroughly captivating read and it must be remembered it covers just a small part of this amazing adventurer’s life. Having read this, I am so completely motivated to read more of his adventures and will be awaiting his future stories with bated breath. At fifty-three, he and his wife are still able to compete in cycling events at a world-class level and that alone is a testament to his amazing strength and character. What a story! I cannot recommend this read highly enough.

Tammy Ruggles

I, Tarzan: Against All Odds by Jean-Philippe Soulé is an exciting, must-read, true-life adventure memoir. You may have read a lot of inspiring autobiographies about people that beat the odds and become champions of their own lives, and heroes to others. This is one of those stories and will have you invested until the last page. The author had a dream, as many people do. Each dream is different for each person. Soulé's dream was to be Tarzan, an adventurer and an explorer. But getting there seemed like an impossible dream. Emotional abuse led him to become a 13-year-old alcoholic. How could this troubled boy be anything like his hero Jacques Cousteau?

This memoir is much more than just the recounting of one man's life. It transcends to the level of inspiration where it can touch the hearts and minds of readers, encouraging them to keep striving toward their own goals and dreams, regardless of hardship or setback. Soulé is an award-winning author who seems to be a natural writer, knowing how to tell a good story while teaching life lessons without even trying. Overcoming abuse and bullying isn't easy, but Soulé shows that adversity doesn't have to keep you down. You can actually use it to better yourself and make a difference in the world. Besides sharing his life story, the author also takes readers on real-life adventures, inviting you to vicariously explore cultures and locations with him, like mountains, jungles, and oceans. From a young tree climber to a worldwide adventure traveler, Soulé is an inspiration to us all. Let I, Tarzan: Against All Odds by Jean-Philippe Soulé be the next book you read for motivation in your life.

Susan Sewell

Discover the incredible story of one man's journey of mastering the seemingly impossible in the inspirational memoir, I, Tarzan: Against All Odds (An inspiring real-life story of courage, hope, and true resilience) by Jean-Philippe Soulé. As a small child, Jean-Philippe admired and idolized Tarzan and Jacques Cousteau. Imitating Tarzan, he practiced flying through the trees near his home and dreamed of exploring the oceans and the world similar to his other idol, Jacques Cousteau. However, as he reached school age, his life took a more dramatic turn, and his parents began shattering his dreams one at a time. Enduring bullying from his schoolmates and suffering from the anguishing effects of unsupportive parents, he turned to alcohol and picking fights to submerge his pain. Jean-Philippe was on a self-destructive path until someone intervened and encouraged him to alter the course of his focus. Using physical challenges, Jean-Philippe fought and overcame each obstacle as it confronted him, eventually becoming the driving force behind the man he became. Read how each personal battle he faced accelerated his life forward, contributing to his success in fulfilling his dreams.

I, Tarzan: Against All Odds by Jean-Philippe Soulé is a compelling and inspirational memoir of an extraordinary man braving and defeating the hardships that life placed in his path. Beautifully written, it is a brilliant tale that illustrates how one man proves the adage 'mind over matter' really does work if we fully commit to our desires and persist in fighting for them. I was amazed at each time he was confronted with a significant problem; the conclusion of the issue catapulted him to the very thing he desired. The story is impressive, and I recommend it to those who need a pick-me-up to kickstart a new mindset. It is a motivating story that will inspire everyone who reads it to never give up on their dreams!

K.C. Finn

I, Tarzan: Against All Odds: An inspiring real-life story of courage, hope, and true resilience is a work of non-fiction in the memoir sub-genre, and was penned by author Jean-Philippe Soulé. As the title suggests, this fascinating work depicts the life of the author from extreme difficulties in his childhood. As such, trigger warnings are in place for those readers who may find a discussion of emotional abuse difficult, but this work displays how admirably the author fought through these traumas and achieved the dreams that he once felt had been taken away from him by those who would do him harm. What results is an inspirational life story with plenty of adventure.

Author Jean-Philippe Soulé writes with a dramatic tension that would serve well in any work of fiction, laying out the tumultuous path of his life as a map for brave readers to explore. This brings about a sense of surprise, of twists and turns and sudden adventures that take us to climactic highs and cataclysmic lows, but the narrative authority shows us that we are in good hands: the hands of a survivor. This visceral experience whilst reading makes for an emotional memoir, and these feelings are heightened by the raw honesty of the work, the open-heartedness of the author himself, and the delicate placement of words to show how even in dark times, we can pick ourselves up and become who we want to truly be. Overall, I would highly recommend I, Tarzan: Against All Odds as an inspiring and motivating memoir that proves anything is possible.

Jamie Michele

I, Tarzan: Against All Odds: An inspiring real-life story of courage, hope, and true resilience by Jean-Philippe Soulé is the author's non-fiction autobiography as he details his lifelong pursuit to experience the world. Soulé begins with his early years as a young boy in a French family on the economic rise. He is enthralled by adventure, passionate as far back as he can remember about exploration, but struggles with day-to-day life as he is bullied, bruised, challenged academically, and faced with discord at home, ultimately leading to his own tendencies toward violence and vices. His addiction transitions to a runner's high as he remolds his life into a military existence, where his troubles initially seem to follow until the fulfilment of a spot in the Special Forces provides the happiness he'd never felt before and catapults him into the life he sought all along.

There is a single line that really stood out to me as I read I, Tarzan. Simple and succinct, it encapsulates the culmination of a man who had the grit to persevere: “Mission accomplie.” Jean-Philippe Soulé is easy to root for, telling his story without a hint of pretentiousness and allowing the path from hardship to prosperity to stand on its own two feet in much of the same way Soulé has during his entire existence. What he achieved before the age of twenty is absolutely mind-boggling, and as someone who also spent decades with strabismus and a lazy eye, the limitations of this alone can kill someone getting a driver's license, let alone becoming an elite member of one of the premier forces in the world. I found Soulé's candidness refreshing and, as he promises in his subtitle, the tale he weaves is without doubt as inspiring as they may come. This is a fantastic, well-written memoir that I suspect will be enjoyed by all who read it.