Starred Review. In this exquisitely written, deeply moving account of the death of a father played out against the backdrop of the collapse of the southern African nation of Zimbabwe, seasoned journalist Godwin has produced a memoir that effortlessly manages to be almost unbearably personal while simultaneously laying bare the cruel regime of longstanding president Robert Mugabe. In 1996 when his father suffers a heart attack, Godwin returns to Africa and sparks the central revelation of the book—the father is Jewish and has hidden it from Godwin and his siblings. As his father's health deteriorates, so does Zimbabwe. Mugabe, self-proclaimed president for life, institutes a series of ill-conceived land reforms that throw the white farmers off the land they've cultivated for generations and consequently throws the country's economy into free fall. There's sadness throughout—for the death of the father, for the suffering of everyone in Zimbabwe (black and white alike) and for the way that human beings invariably treat each other with casual disregard. Godwin's narrative flows seamlessly across the decades, creating a searing portrait of a family and a nation collectively coming to terms with death. This is a tour de force of personal journalism and not to be missed. (Apr.)
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Godwin, the author of a previous memoir about growing up during Zimbabwes war of independence, has written a sequel of sorts, tracing the collapse of his country in the course of the past decade (the violently destructive Robert Mugabe is the "crocodile" of the title) in tandem with the decline of his father. The memoirs central drama comes from the dying fathers revelation that he is not British at all, as his son had always believed, but a Polish Jew, born Kazimierz Jerzy Goldfarb, whose mother and sister were killed in Treblinka. Occasionally, Godwins attempts to knit the various story lines together seem a bit pat"A white in Africa is like a Jew everywhere . . . waiting for the next great tidal swell of hostility"but he ultimately delivers a powerful narrative of grief and desperation, both personal and national.
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Beautifully written. Frightening to think what has happened to a country with so much to offer. Very sadPublished 19 days ago by Riva Friedman
This was such an interesting memoir! I really enjoyed reading it.Published 1 month ago by georgia girl
excellent book combining the story of WWII and Africa into a lovely and enjoyable book.Published 1 month ago by Atl mom
Excellent account of the effects of Mugabe's regime on Zimbabwe and a personal story which reveals the depths of life.Published 1 month ago by Gigi Kast
I enjoyed Crocodile, which provided an amazing 'insider's narrative' to all the craziness that has unfolded in Zimbabwe over the last several decades. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Seismic Guy
Peter Godwin’s book - When A Crocodile Eats the Sun – is a book many can equate to as many of us from Southern Africa have struggled to discover our own past whatever our... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Gordon Bold
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun is a memoir of Peter Godwin's life as a white child growing up in Rhodesia set against the more recent sinister backdrop of Mugabe's Zimbabwe. Read morePublished 3 months ago by MBJ