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Comment: A well-cared-for item that has seen limited use but remains in great condition. The item is complete, unmarked, and undamaged, but may show some limited signs of wear. Item works perfectly. Pages and dust cover are intact and not marred by notes or highlighting. The spine is undamaged.
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The Last King of Scotland Paperback – October 26, 1999

4.1 out of 5 stars 52 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

No, we're not talking Bonnie Prince Charlie here. The title character of Giles Foden's debut novel, The Last King of Scotland, is none other than Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda. Told from the viewpoint of Nicholas Garrigan, Amin's personal physician, the novel chronicles the hell that was Uganda in the 1970s. Garrigan, the only son of a Scots Presbyterian minister, finds himself far away from Fossiemuir when he accepts a post with the Ministry of Health in Uganda. His arrival in Kampala coincides with the coup that leads to President Obote's overthrow and Idi Amin Dada's ascendancy to power. Garrigan spends only a few days in the capital city, however, before heading out to his assignment in the bush. But a freak traffic accident involving Amin's sports car and a cow eventually brings the good doctor into the dictator's orbit; a few months later, Garrigan is recalled from his rural hospital and named personal physician to the president. Soon enough, Garrigan finds himself caught between his duty to his patient and growing pressure from his own government to help them control Amin.

From Nicholas Garrigan's catbird seat, Foden guides us through the horrors of Amin's Uganda. It would be simple enough to make the dictator merely monstrous, but Foden defies expectation, rendering him appealing even as he terrifies. The doctor "couldn't help feeling awed by the sheer size of him and the way, even in those unelevated circumstances, he radiated a barely restrained energy.... I felt--far from being the healer--that some kind of elemental force was seeping into me." And Garrigan makes a fine stand-in for Conrad's Marlow as he travels up a river of blood from naiveté to horrified recognition of his own complicity. As if this weren't enough, Foden also treats us to a finely drawn portrait of Africa in all its natural, political, and social complexity. The Last King of Scotland makes for dark but compelling reading. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

A vivid journey to the turbulent heart of 1970s Uganda, British journalist Foden's bracing first novel chronicles the strange career of a fictional Scottish physician, Nicholas Garrigan, who serves as the personal doctor and occasional confidante of dictator Idi Amin. Having sequestered himself on a remote island in Scotland, Garrigan reflects, through a fog of self-deception and regret, on his stint as Amin's sidekick, from their first unlikely encounter after a back-road accident (Amin's red Masarati sideswipes a cow) to his installation in the capital as the ruler's house physician. Enjoying the perks of this position, Garrigan ponders an affair with the British ambassador's wife, tends to Amin's sometimes comical afflictions (in a memorable scene, he coaxes a burp from the dictator as if he were a giant infant) and even admits to a "sneaking affection" for him. Garrigan grows so detached from the gradually mounting atrocities of the regime that it takes a visit to the dictator's torture chambers and a harrowing trek across the wartorn countryside for him to glimpse the extent of his own complicity. Expertly weaving together Amin's life story (intertwined with Scottish history for reasons that remain rather vague, though the novel's title is a moniker Amin gave to himself), Foden writes with steely clarity and a sharp satirical edge, allowing serious questions to surface about the ethical boundaries of medicine and the crumbling Western influence in Africa. Garrison is the perfect foil for Amin, whose overwhelming physical presence, peacockish rhetoric and cold-blooded savagery are so well captured as to make this novel more than a mesmerizing read: it is also a forceful account of a surrealistic and especially ugly chapter of modern history. Agent, A.P. Watt. First serial to Granta. (Nov.) FYI: Foden has been an editor of the Times Literary Supplement.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (October 26, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0375703314
  • ISBN-13: 978-0375703317
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (52 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #573,913 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By A. Ross HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Idi Amin's bizarre and brutal eight years of dictatorship in Uganda are the setting for this assured debut. The narrator is Nicholas Garrigan, a young Scottish doctor who arrives in Uganda for a contract job at the same time as Amin's 1971 coup. The book is his recollection of his two years in a small town clinic and six years as Amin's personal doctor in Kampala. His story continues the Conradian tradition of the European man who comes to Africa and becomes transformed through his contact with evil. Amin is Garrigan's Kurtz, and while the doctor and other expats generally turn a blind eye to the truckloads of political prisoners being taken to the countryside to be executed, eventually Garrigan is dragged face to face with Amin's horror.
Of course this isn't pure Conrad, rather it's cut with a bit of William Boyd, another Englishman writer who's written compelling fiction about modern Africa and the legacy of colonial rule. For the horror here isn't that Garrigan begins to understand Amin (after all who could really hope to understand a man of Amin's awesome eccentricity), but begins to like him in an odd way. And it's not that the doctor is a weak character, he's actually remarkably average, and thus very much like ourselves. The reader is unable to to find solace in making easy smug judgments about Garrigan's gradual moral slide as he sucked more and more into Amin's confidence and makes small compromises with himself. Amin is a great character in his own right, lurching from buffoonery to gluttony to sly cunning to sheer incomprehensibility at the drop of a hat. Of course Fodden had a lot to work with, as many of Amin's deeds and speeches are classic examples of truth really being stranger than fiction.
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Format: Hardcover
The fictitious memoirs of Nicholas Garrigan, personal physician to ex-Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. Garrigan passively recounts his own fall into moral ambivalence as he describes Amin's erratic, homicidal rule. A surprising and disturbing book -- at times we find ourselves liking psychopathic, murderous Idi Amin more than we do the nebbish and irresolute Dr. Garrigan. The prose is crisp and pleasurable to read; at times this novel looses its focus, but overall it's a moving and affecting book which takes us on a journey not only through the personal landscapes of Garrigan and Amin, but which also provides flashes of insight into African society and politics and European-African relations.
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Format: Paperback
Idi Amin Dada was the Gargantua of moral nightmares. He ruled post-colonial Uganda with the guile of a court jester, a likeable chap who kept the West in stitches while he flayed his enemies with the Devil's scalpel. Into this woofing madness comes our protagonist, Nicholas Garrigan, a healer with a warped mission of mercy as naive as Dr. Kildare, and Giles Foden begins to weave us into his tapestry of moral quandary. Step by step, Garrigan slip slides into the snakepit of evil, seemingly aware but oblivious, well-intentioned but complicit. It is all so properly justified, he says (scrub, scrub). I do not make moral judgments, he says (scrub, scrub). I am a doctor, he says (scrub, scrub), yet the innocent die all around him. Foden has taken the Gen-X theme of moral ambivalence and whacked us upside the head with it. Although Garrigan eventually escapes to his idyllic Scotland, he remains haunted by correspondence from Amin, as we remain haunted by the million more who recently died in Rwanda. Like Sartre said, there is no exit. Deal with it! A stunning debut.
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Format: Paperback
This is an exciting debut novel. It is the story of one Nicholas Garrigan, a young Scottish doctor who is assigned to be the personal physician to Uganda's famous dictator, Idi Amin. Yet the young doctor discovers, to his own cost, that one can never be totally removed from the wild excesses of others... I read the first half of this novel breathlessly. The depiction of Uganda is intriguing. Perhaps this is due to morbid fascination: most people will be aware of Amin's bloody history. The knowledge that everything will go wrong draws you further into this book. Foden presents a compelling portrait of Amin, even to the extent of making him likeable. For instance, there is Amin's eccentric love of all things Scottish, and the peculiar messages he sends to other heads of state. But there is always a palpable fear for Garrigan whenever he's in Amin's presence. Amin is dangerous, for Garrigan never knows what he's going to do next, and how he will become embroiled in his bloody vengeance... I found the resolution to be quite disappointing. In his bid to escape Uganda, Garrigan literally stumbles across the worse excesses of Amin's regime, almost tripping over a pile of corpses. This is the only part of the novel where Foden's otherwise excellent research overwhelms. Uganda's bloody history is already well known, and it would have been far more effective for Garrigan to have remained in ignorance about the worst excesses. Garrigan becomes a mere cipher in Foden's bid to depict the downfall of Amin. But this is only really disappointing in contrast to the excellent first part. Overall, it well deserves its critical success.
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