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Call Of The Litany Bird: Surviving the Zimbabwe Bush War Hardcover – 11 Apr 2011

4.5 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Loose Chippings Books (11 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 190799100X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1907991004
  • Product Dimensions: 14.9 x 2.6 x 22.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 161,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

This is a moving book, calmly written despite the horrors it details. The Spectator Susan Gibbs's extraordinary memoir. She writes vividly about her love of Africa and its people, and it is impossible not to admire her courage. Her account is threaded with amusing anecdotes. Daily Mail Sue Gibbs is a gifted writer. She tells a compelling personal story of bringing up a family on a farm whilst living through the harrowing times as Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. It is a wonderfully evocative read. Tom Benyon OBE, Founder of ZANE Deeply moving. Douglas Hurd (Former Foreign Secretary) This book reminds us of the courage which they (the Gibbs) and so many of their friends and neighbours showed. Lord Carrington (Former Foreign Secretary) Sometimes a book can touch a part of the soul and for me, Call Of The Litany Bird is such a one. New Books Magazine One really does feel, as the book progresses, the deterioration in the situation and the worries and concerns both of the white farming community and the Africans who shared so much of their lives. The definitive account. Major General Colin Shortis (Former BMATT Commander in Zimbabwe) A heartfelt account of human endeavour to try and lead as normal and productive lives as possible throughout grave turmoil. New Africa Analysis This book is a gem. Robin Byatt CMG (British High Commissioner to Zimbabwe 1980 to 1983) There are not many books which cause me to cancel any thought of doing anything else just so I can get stuck in to them, but this one did it for me today. Go buy this book, you will not be disappointed. John Gaye (Blogger) This is an amazing story, told with modesty and without undue drama. Amazon ***** Review An elegant and easy style. Amazon ***** Review

About the Author

Susan Gibbs was born and brought up in Australia. In 1963 she moved to Rhodesia which was to become her home for more than twenty years. She is married with four children and now lives in England.


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4.5 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
This is a book, originally written for the benefit of the author's children, to record many of the ghastly events they witnessed in their childhood while being brought up in the paradise that was a farm in Zimbabwe's Matabeleland. It was while the infamous North Korean trained Fifth Brigade were being allowed to run wild in the part of Zimbabwe that was the homeland to the Ndebele people, Mugabe's main rivals for power. Sue Gibbs describes with great skill the wonderful sights and sounds of Africa that kept families there long after common sense might have dictated a withdrawal. She has a wonderful way in evoking the atmosphere of African life including some very evocative word pictures of the wonderful flora and fauna that were part of their day to day environs. But then she tells the stories of the horrors without dramatising them. She also brings out the wonderful relationships she and her family had with their labour force, who were really part of her extended family and all of whom had no option but to stay on when the Gibbs decided very reluctantly to sell up everything that they had built up over two generations and leave for the safety and sanity of England, a country where they realised very quickly that although they spoke the same language they were really quite alien to its ways.

This is an amazing story, told with modesty and without undue drama. Beautifully written it will chime immediately with anyone who knows any part of Africa but also with those who want to discover something of the life of those whom they may know who have 'retired' from Zimbabwe. This is their story that they probably will not tell you in ordinary conversation.
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Format: Hardcover
The call of the Litany Bird is a true story that needed to be documented. Susan's chronicle of the ZANU inspired atrocities against the reputed 22,000 people of Matabeleland who died, is set graphically by her. She uses pathos, humour, and her intricate knowledge and experience of Africa - its smells, its colours, its peoples and its animals (and reptiles!) to describe a daily life that became intolerable.
Having been born in Rhodesia myself and living near Bulawayo for 45 years I admire Susans ability to portray a way of life that has been swept away to the detriment of all who shared it. She 'got it right' in every way and I feel that this book is compulsory reading for every student of African politics and history.
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Format: Hardcover
This is an important testimony to some appalling facts that the world chose to ignore as they were inconvenient to their preferred picture of the conciliatory and magnanimous "Uncle Bob". For the arch rat Carrington to write a foreword is especially hypocritical. You wonder whether,when reading it, he did for a moment experience a tinge of remorse or guilt for the chaos and murder for which he was directly responsible. I doubt it.
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Format: Hardcover
Call Of The Litany Bird is a beautifully written account of the terrible times that so many people endured and still endure under a monstrous dictator. Susan Gibbs, through her perfect imagery gives us a feeling of actually being there and anyone who has spent time in Africa will know what I mean when they read Litany Bird. It is important for the reader to remember that this account is exactly that, not a work of fiction but a true account written by a mother for her children and in sharing it with a wider audience Gibbs has worked hard at and succeeded in protecting the dignity of those murdered, raped, tortured and otherwise hurt instead of cheaply sharing with us the full grotesqueness which in a work of fiction would perhaps be acceptable. We do not choose the age or era we are born into but we choose how we react to it and within it and the Gibbses chose to do the right thing by the Africans they were fortunate enough to have at Bonisa. I think that readers with maturity and empathy will take care to realise that an incredible amount of personal pain must have been worked through in order to write an account without bitterness or judgement and I look forward to reading it again.
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Format: Hardcover
Susan Gibbs has written a brilliant and moving account of her life in Zimbabwe around the time of its independence. It is a tale of a white family and their friends and acquaintances during a period of turbulence and horror in the country, especially in Matabeleland, where they farmed. She writes with an elegant, easy style and gives a vivid, evocative account of what she saw and how it affected the family and others. At times it is unbearably sad, at other times funny, but it is always engaging.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and, though it does not delve deeply into politics, it gave me a genuine insight into Zimbabwe and the brutalities committed by Mugabe's regime.
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Format: Hardcover
I was recommended this book by a friend, who's book recommendations I regard very highly. I was surprised, actually surprised is an understatement. The first page had me with tears in my eyes, and I don't remember ever crying while reading a book. Susan's writing for an unknown writer is remarkable. Its is a truly compassionate and moving story about the horrors of living in Zimbabwe and the trials that people white and black went through (and still go through) under Mugabe's rule.

The story is both beautifully written, outlining the enjoyable daily routines and the beauty of the landscape and natural African environment, and it is also chillingly real in exposing someone like myself (not versed in using Howitzers or Uzi's) to the realities faced everyday in Zimbabwe.

This will truly go down as a classic book written by someone who was a witness to the atrocities committed in Zimbabwe, and is a must read for anyone that is looking for a very moving well written book about families struggling to make do in more than trying circumstances in Africa.

If you think you have it tough, you should probably read this book.
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