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The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe [Kindle Edition]

Douglas Rogers
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (175 customer reviews)

Print List Price: $15.00
Kindle Price: $9.78
You Save: $5.22 (35%)
Sold by: Random House LLC

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Book Description

Thrilling, heartbreaking, and, at times, absurdly funny, The Last Resort is a remarkable true story about one family in a country under siege and a testament to the love, perseverance, and resilience of the human spirit.

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country’s long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He escaped the dull future mapped out for him by his parents for one of adventure and excitement in Europe and the United States. But when Zimbabwe’s president Robert Mugabe launched his violent program to reclaim white-owned land and Rogers’s parents were caught in the cross fire, everything changed. Lyn and Ros, the owners of Drifters–a famous game farm and backpacker lodge in the eastern mountains that was one of the most popular budget resorts in the country–found their home and resort under siege, their friends and neighbors expelled, and their lives in danger. But instead of leaving, as their son pleads with them to do, they haul out a shotgun and decide to stay.

On returning to the country of his birth, Rogers finds his once orderly and progressive home transformed into something resembling a Marx Brothers romp crossed with Heart of Darkness: pot has supplanted maize in the fields; hookers have replaced college kids as guests; and soldiers, spies, and teenage diamond dealers guzzle beer at the bar.

And yet, in spite of it all, Rogers’s parents–with the help of friends, farmworkers, lodge guests, and residents–among them black political dissidents and white refugee farmers–continue to hold on. But can they survive to the end?

In the midst of a nation stuck between its stubborn past and an impatient future, Rogers soon begins to see his parents in a new light: unbowed, with passions and purpose renewed, even heroic. And, in the process, he learns that the "big story" he had relentlessly pursued his entire adult life as a roving journalist and travel writer was actually happening in his own backyard.

Evoking elements of The Tender Bar and Absurdistan, The Last Resort is an inspiring, coming-of-age tale about home, love, hope, responsibility, and redemption. An edgy, roller-coaster adventure, it is also a deeply moving story about how to survive a corrupt Third World dictatorship with a little innovation, humor, bribery, and brothel management.

From the Hardcover edition.

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Born in Zimbabwe, New York-based travel writer Rogers moves between two worlds with wit and grace while telling the dire-straits story of his childhood in Zimbabwe and his recent return. Zimbabwe's extremes of beauty and corruption will lure readers into the everyday struggle to preserve property and life against punishing weather, astronomical inflation, and the threat of other people. Angst, humor, beauty and terror mingle freely in his narrative: returning home he finds the family's backpacker lodge has become a brothel, and estates of "irises and tulips and acres of pruned white roses" have disappeared. He marvels at the "untamed roots of blazing flamboyant trees... buckling the city's pavement," the metamorphosis of the hardscrabble poor into diamond dealers, and his own parents: "instead of being crushed by this struggle, beaten down, they had been buoyed by it." This rousing memoir should win over anyone with a taste for exotic can't-go-home-again stories.


"This vibrant, tragic and surprsingly funny book is the best account yet of ordinary life—for blacks and whites—under Mugabe’s dictatorship."
—The New York Times Book Review

"A nuanced, funny, and heartbreaking story."
—The New Yorker

"A gorgeous, open-hearted book.  Rogers manages to do the vital work of taking race out of Zimbabwe's story and putting the heart and humanity back into it.  A must read for anyone who really wants to understand the extraordinary decency of ordinary Zimbabweans."
—Alexandra Fuller, author of Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

"I read it in one sitting. I loved it.”
—Rian Malan, author of My Traitor's Heart

"Do we really need another memoir by a white Zimbabwean? The surprising answer is yes, if it's as good as Douglas Rogers' THE LAST RESORT….A ripping yarn….[moves] beyond memoir to become a chronicle of a nation. There is black and white, yes, but much more in the shades and tones of their mix—and it is in exploring them that Rogers, too, find his art."

"Zimbabwe in vertiginous decline is the backdrop for Douglas Rogers’s corrosively funny THE LAST RESORT, in which Roger’s parents, among the country’s last remaining white farmers, attract everyone from prostitutes and diamond dealers to their backpacker lodge."
—Vogue, featured in "The Season's Best Memoirs"

"Born in Zimbabwe, New York-based travel writer Rogers moves between two worlds with wit and grace while telling the dire-straits story of his childhood in Zimbabwe and his recent return....Angst, humor, beauty and terror mingle freely in his narrative....This rousing memoir should win over anyone with a taste for exotic can't-go-home-again stories.
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"As President Mugabe's regime turns bell...

Product Details

  • File Size: 848 KB
  • Print Length: 322 pages
  • Publisher: Crown; 1 edition (September 21, 2009)
  • Sold by: Random House LLC
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Not Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #83,273 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
62 of 64 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars When Africa Moves Your Cheese October 17, 2009
You might want to wait for Robert Mugabe and his henchman to exit Zimbabwe before you visit this resort, but you won't be able to put down this riveting book about a spunky senior couple and their story of survival. Set at the edge of a country that has descended into economic disaster and official thuggery, this is about people who just want to hang on - and they do!

Part adventure tale, part family memoir and trip into the mind of post-colonial Africa, this amiable but gripping story is a also compelling business case study of sorts - a bush version of Who Moved My Cheese? The Rogers family, a white Zimbabwean couple with roots going back several generations, retire to a craggy estate near Mutare in the East which they turn into a backpacker lodge with chalets, a swimming pool and al fresco bar.

They thrive for several years during the early benevolent period of the Mugabe regime when whites were welcome and the struggle against the old supremacist Rhodesian government forgotten. White emigrants even returned, many encouraged to buy and build in the new majority African-ruled Zimbabwe. That all began to change around 2000 when Mugabe saw his lifetime presidency challenged and he turned to sacking white farms as a way to maintain support.

This took the life out of the economy and with it, the tourist business. Luckily for the Rogers, their craggy estate had little farm value - especially after poachers took out their modest game stock - so the shambling estate avoided the expropriation list. But that still didn't pay the bills, so the author's Dad, Lyn Rogers kept coming up with one survival scheme after another in a way that could make for a third-world-dictator version of the Harvard Business School case study.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great read October 2, 2009
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was able to read an advanced copy and I really enjoyed it. It is an easy read and a remarkable story of the author's family in Zimbabwe. His family lineage goes back 300 years on the African Continent. His family is one of the last white land owners in Zimbabwe and the story is of his immediate family living through the transitions from Rhodesia to Zimbabwe to the last 10 years of "Land Reform". His parents ran a well regarded backpacker lodge in the eastern mountains of Zimbabwe all through the 1990's. In the last decade, despite inflation in the million percent range, as well as brutal and murderous land seizures, his parents are still miraculously on "their" land. It is their LAST RESORT! Douglas Rogers is quite the raconteur. His writing makes you ache to visit and see for your self the raw and natural beauty that is Zimbabwe. I recommend this book.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Small Gestures Between Ordinary People February 21, 2010
I can't stop thinking about this book. I recently visited my family in South Africa (I left in 1983), and I was struck -- yet again -- by their amazing sense of humor, despite all of their difficulties. This book reinforced the feeling of awe I have for them. It is the same feeling I now have for all of the people depicted in The Last Resort. Their lives are tragic, yet heroic; difficult beyond comprehension but full of determination and courage. What makes the book so powerful is how Rogers compels us to empathize with everyone, regardless of their race, ethnicity or political affiliation. They are simply human, born into circumstances not of their own making, swept up by events they can't quite control. Their actions, though sometimes unethical or immoral, are driven by an evolutionary will to survive. They are unapologetic, yet their ability to adapt and even change gives one hope in the human race. Ultimately, it is not power or money that allows Rogers' family to endure; rather, it is the small gestures -- of respect and kindness -- that keeps them on their land in their beloved Zimbabwe; their encounters with individuals, long forgotten, whose connections suddenly mean everything. This is a tale that teaches us that lives can be changed by tiny, seemingly inconsequential interactions between ordinary people, and reminds us to strive to be better every day.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Don't Miss This! March 11, 2010
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Received this book as a Xmas gift from someone who knows I enjoy reading about Africa, but didn't immediately pick it up as I've read a number of books about Zimbabwe in the past few years. My mistake!! This is a wonderful, refreshing story about two people reinventing themselves continuously in an effort to remain in the country they call home. I was touched by the honesty and humor of their story, and finished the book with great admiration for their efforts. It is as much a story about a son's growing understanding and appreciation of his parents, as it is about their daily struggles in a country that is constantly being turned upside down. I particularly enjoyed the author's perspective-a candid look at how his parents face the changes that confront them daily, and his fears for their safety (as well as his own!). I found myself thinking about Mr. Roger's parents long after I put the book down...
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Douglas Rogers' riveting account of present day Zimbabwe provides an honest, frightening and eye-opening perspective of life in the crumbling nation.

As an American who has traveled to Zimbabwe recently and has witnessed the plight of all Zimbabweans, both black and white under Mugabe's reign, I am thrilled that the world now has an accurate glimpse of what's really happening inside the country's borders.

With a total media blackout hiding the government's malicious rule, Douglas' account is incredibly valuable. We don't hear enough about Zimbabwe - all Americans should read more and become aware of the government's unending brutality.

Look no further for an incredibly riveting and current account of a crisis that more of us should be discussing.

And this book is not just about the troubled state, it's also about Zimbabwean families who are struggling to survive and carry on. They live by the famous Zim saying: "we'll make a plan." You'll get angry, but you'll also laugh. Every day, Douglas' family faces incomprehensible challenges and threats but also occasional success.

Thank you Douglas, for your insight, candor and phenomenally descriptive story-telling. I can't wait to visit your parents at the now famous Drifters guest house.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 10 days ago by D. L. Ryan
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read!
Excellent book, loved every page, would love to meet and visit with his parents. Just a great window into what southern Africa is really like for white African's beyond South... Read more
Published 12 days ago by George E mangelsdorf III
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Extremely interesting.. What a chaotic life style...
Published 15 days ago by mexipam
5.0 out of 5 stars Best true life read
This is another book about Zimbabwe that reads like a movie script, but sadly iit is real life. Another view of the horrors of Mugabi's regime.
Published 27 days ago by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars fascinating
What a marvellous insight into the criminal Mugabe and the impact of his heinous acts on average people in Zimbabwe. Read more
Published 29 days ago by Madame Gilgamesh
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Very enlightening perspective.
Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read.
Interesting book about the troubles in Zimabwe from the perspective of a White African family.
Published 1 month ago by Lewis
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Good book. Easy to read and very informative -- helps convey the challenges facing that country
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars I have taken up a side fascination with the country ...
I have taken up a side fascination with the country of Zimbabwe lately, and it's former incarnation of Rhodesia. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mediocre Gatsby
5.0 out of 5 stars I really enjoyed this book
I really enjoyed this book. I was very interested to learn the modern history of Zimbabwe, it's Independence , and what came after.
Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
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