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The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe Hardcover – March 23, 2011

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In this remarkable look inside Mugabe's isolated yet restive Zimbabwe, journalist Godwin (When a Crocodile Eats the Sun) and his sister, Georgina, return to their childhood home "to dance on Robert Mugabe's political grave"; that is, to observe firsthand the teetering of Africa's (and the world's) oldest tyrant at the critical moment of the 2008 elections. Although the elections promised an end to Mugabe's nearly 30-year dictatorship, even as the 84-year-old president has clung to power in a campaign of widespread terror. The depiction of the heroic (if "prissy") liberation leader against white-minority rule turned brutal power-monger is at once personal, well-informed, and at times, heart-racing. Godwin and Georgina tour the economically devastated and state-terrorized cities, farms, and diamond mines at considerable personal risk, gathering candid interviews with dispossessed farmers, marginalized elites, and former insiders to cast a light on the workings of Mugabe's dictatorship and psychology, and the "fear factor" crucial to his control. Godwin's skills as a journalist and his personal connection to Zimbabwe combine to create an astonishing piece of reportage marked by spare, stirring description, heartrending action, and smart analysis. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

Returning to his native Zimbabwe in 2008, Godwin had hoped to �dance on Robert Mugabe�s political grave.� But though Mugabe had been voted out as president, he did not concede power, instead sponsoring a brutal campaign of violence to crush his political opponents and suppress dissent in a land already devastated by hyperinflation and Mugabe�s compulsory land-redistribution program. Chronicling the violence, the suffering, and the chaos; recounting the stories of torture survivors and victims of politically motivated vigilantism; and examining Mugabe�s biography and politics (and placing himself in significant danger in the process), Godwin only occasionally recognizes the Zimbabwe of his childhood. But, finding heroism and resistance in the face of horrific carnage, he discovers a side of the nation that he had not known before. Much more than just the author�s third memoir of Zimbabwe (after Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa, 1996, and When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, 2007), this selection is an important work of witness. --Brendan Driscoll

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 1st edition (March 23, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031605173X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316051736
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.2 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #395,170 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Peter Godwin is an award winning author and journalist. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, he studied law and international relations at Cambridge and Oxford. He worked as a foreign correspondent in Africa and Eastern Europe for The Sunday Times of London. He was founding presenter and writer of Assignment/Correspondent, BBC TV's premier foreign affairs program. He now lives in Manhattan and contributes regularly to National Geographic, New York Times magazine, and BBC Radio, among others.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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This book is hard to read.
Carol Mannchen
I hope more people will read this book, and I admire Peter Godwin for risking his life to write it.
BT Invictus
Read this book because you will never forget it.
Old School but Kicking

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

99 of 101 people found the following review helpful By Literati on March 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a fellow Zimbabwean living on foreign shores, having read Peter Godwin's The Fear I am at a loss for words. Partly because the subject matter is so bitterly painful, there is no coherent way to respond to the way the grip of power has squeezed out such a horrendous toll of human suffering, but also, no doubt, by the manner in which, despite harrowing detail, all of which he chronicles with a poignant deftness, the author still manages to transport me, with yearning, to this beautiful land. Despite the political savagery that has taken a similar toll on the wildlife, trees, rivers and mountains, Zimbabwe's haggard remnants are still proudly bursting forth. So much so that my childhood memories are keenly awakened and I feel a solid lump of sorrow for Zim's fateful journey. And I, who live in relative luxury many miles away, aware of the hard times being faced by family and friends, have imagined a subtler version of Godwin's account, probably to quieten my own fear of what has become of my home.
They call people like me, one of multitudes of Zimbabweans who live abroad, the diaspora. I knew we were of some assistance to those at home in a way by sending foreign currency and goods from time to time, but reading this book, I fear we have grossly underestimated the conditions faced by our compatriots and our absence and failure to participate is perhaps an indictment against us? I ask myself why haven't we, as a people, well educated, talented, inherently dignified, though of humble bearing, and here I speak not for myself, but the many Zimbabweans I have encountered in my life, why have we not prevented the outrage that is modern day Zim? This has troubled me over the years as I have gone about raising my children and the daily grind of my comfortable western life.
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38 of 39 people found the following review helpful By Ask MK on March 30, 2011
Format: Hardcover
You'd be forgiven for mistaking the work of Peter Godwin for fiction. The world he describes in arrestingly beautiful prose, peopled with characters possessed of heroic bravery and breathtaking evil, would seem a plausible backdrop for a morality play on the corruption absolute power brings. But this story is all too real, and we ignore it at our own peril. The Fear is an exquisite, heart-rending, and unforgettable tribute to a people for whom the love of country and the struggle for liberty come at the ultimate price.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful By Peter K Slotwiner-Nie on March 31, 2011
Format: Hardcover
A gripping account of the plight of the citizens of Zimbabwe, whose steadfast commitment to determine their own future unleashes a murderous campaign of terror at the hands of their own president. To hear the first-hand accounts of Robert Mugabe's victims, whose courage and resolve remain unbroken against the bleakest of odds, is intensely humbling. Thoroughly researched and beautifully written, this book gives a much-needed voice to these brave people.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Spudman TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 20, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The employment rate is 6%. The country is the world leader in the number of orphans per capita, nearly a million of them are AIDS orphans. Inflation is beyond calculation with everyday items costing in the trillions. Up to a third of its citizens have fled the country to escape the rapes, tortures, imprisonments, and killings that are now commonplace. Its government is widely recognized as one of the most corrupt and violent on earth. Its leader, now the oldest national leader on the planet, lost an election but refuses to relinquish power as those who oppose him risk death, imprisonment and unspeakable torture for themselves and their families.

This is Zimbabwe, the former Rhodesia, where Peter Godwin returns to the land of his birth after Mugabe's defeat to witness and chronicle the current state of the country at great risk to himself. Mugabe has a long memory, doesn't forgive , and an unwelcome Peter Godwin is on Mugabe's long list of enemies.

Godwin introduces us to the Fear, a way of life and mindset so horrible and unspeakable that it becomes palpable and takes on the identity of a surreal all pervasive entity that suffocates and strangles the country.

The author also introduces us to friends and enemies alike as through his eyes we witness the horrendous atrocities and entrenched injustices that are Zimbabwe today. Mercifully the 41 chapters are brief and brisk for one needs time to catch one's breath between chapters to comprehend the seemingly impossible inhumanity and brutality of Robert Mugabe's supporters and militia.

Amidst a land of breathtaking natural beauty and a former grandeur fallen into decay and disrepair are images difficult to read about, yet alone witness, experience, and suffer.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Rob Johnson on May 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover
As an early member of the Zimbabwe diaspora, I'm addicted to accounts of contemporary Zimbabwe. Peter Godwin's books chart the course of Zimbabwe's modern history from the civil ware of the 70s, the Matabeleland genocide of the 80s. And now, in his latest book, The Fear, he brings witness to the decades of fear and economic collapse. His is a light into the murky new Dark Age of modern Zimbabwe.

Godwin's stories giving witness to a regime pursuing a war of terror against its own people are at the same time harrowing and inspiring. Inspiring because of the exemplary courage of the opponents of the Mugabe tyranny.

Godwin's book is a documentary and parts of it are in essence a list of crimes with names, dates and events, perhaps intended one day to become evidence against the perpetrators of the cruelty and violence in an international court, or one may hope. This interferes somewhat with the narrative, but Godwin's lucid style and evident love of the people of his native country overcome this.

With brutal dictatorships being overturned in the Middle East with the encouragement of the West, is it too much to hope that zimbabwe may follow? The courage, humour and resilience of the Zimbabweans deserve nothing less.
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