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Ghosts of Kampala: Rise and Fall of Idi Amin [Hardcover]

George Ivan Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Littlehampton Book Services Ltd (26 Jun 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0297777211
  • ISBN-13: 978-0297777212
  • Product Dimensions: 23.2 x 16.7 x 2.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,320,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A chilling insight into the rule of Idi Amin 5 Jun 2012
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This book is a fascinating insight into the rise and fall of Idi Amin. The book is written by a man who spent a lot of time working for the United Nations and was requested by the UN Secretary General to go into Uganda after the fall of Amin.

The book starts from the time of Uganda's independence in 1962. It weaves this together with the birth, family background and early life of Amin. The story picks up and runs straight from the coup that displaced Milton Obote and charts the rapid descent into hell caused by Amin's paranoia, cruelty and general ignorance.

Amin is often seen as a clown, or classed as a lovable buffoon, but this book does a lot to dispel this disturbing myth and to show Amin in his true colours. I thought the book was well written and well researched and it is obvious through the writing that the author had a considerably amount of knowledge on the subject.

I will not go into the details of Amin's terrible reign, as the author has done a very good job of that already. I would say that this is well written, very readable and is highly recommended. If there was one small criticism I would make of the book it is the highly flowery language the author uses when describing the Ugandan landscape. However, I do not believe this distracts from the overall quality of this book. Thoroughly recommended.
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Amazon.com: 3.6 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars best book about Idi Amin from an insider 6 Feb 2002
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
As opposed to the two previous reviewers, I thought this was an extremely well written and researched book. The author was a UN official during the 1970s and was able to draw upon his and his colleagues' experiences to form a very good portrait of one of the worst rulers in Africa's history. He starts with a very informative discussion of Amin's youth and career before he took over the Presidency of Uganda in 1971, destroying such myths as Amin's claim that he fought in Burma and India during World War II. He draws upon personal correspondance with former Ugandan President Milton Obote to provide a detailed account of Amin's coup and his foreign policy with other African countries in the 70s. Going in depth about Amin's search for oil in Lake Albert and his collusion in the assassination of Burundi's King Ntare V, Smith also provides the reader with an account of how bad life was in Uganda in the 70s. He justly praises the bravery of Makerere University students who stood up to Amin several times while condemning the lack of interest of other African politicians (except for Nyerere) and Western governments in putting an end to Amin's bloody regime.
The only criticism I would have of the book is the lack of any serious economic analysis of Uganda in the 70s - after all, it was Amin more than anyone else who turned Uganda from one of sub-Saharan Africa's richest countries to one of its poorest - but this is a minor quibble since that information is available elsewhere. This is a highly recommended book.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Horror That Was Dada 14 Feb 2000
By "daedulus" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book does give the reader a glimpse of the evil of the Idi Amin regime that terrorized Uganda from 1971 to 1979. It also gives us some insights as to how such an evil dictator could stay in power for so long while perpetrating so many dreadful crimes. It was a combination of other black African leaders studiously looking the other way and refusing to condemn him -- Julius Nyere of Tanzania being a major exception, considerable moral and material support from wealthy Islamic regimes such as Libya under Gadaffi, and, of course, sheer terror against all who dared to speak against him. My biggest problem with the book was its turgid style of writing: I found it necessary to re-read many a paragraph before I got the gist of what it was all about.
4.0 out of 5 stars Idi Amin's reign 21 May 2010
By James D. Crabtree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book gives the reader a good idea of the character of Idi Amin, the dictator who ruled Uganda during the 1970s. Amin was a vicious and violent character and one who seemed to have very little discretion. So little discretion in fact that his escapades brought him world-wide attention and probably set the stage for the Tanzanian-Ugandan War which would result in his overthrow. Author George Ivan Smith had extensive experience in Africa and knew many of the people involved with Idi Amin's rise and fall, making this both a very readable and a very compelling work.
4.0 out of 5 stars Idi Amin's reign 21 May 2010
By James D. Crabtree - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This book gives the reader a good idea of the character of Idi Amin, the dictator who ruled Uganda during the 1970s. Amin was a vicious and violent character and one who seemed to have very little discretion. So little discretion in fact that his escapades brought him world-wide attention and probably set the stage for the Tanzanian-Ugandan War which would result in his overthrow. Author George Ivan Smith had extensive experience in Africa and knew many of the people involved with Idi Amin's rise and fall, making this both a very readable and a very compelling work.
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars not much, but better than nothing 12 Dec 1999
By Johnny Roulette - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Given the fascinating, albeit monstrous, subject he had to work with, George Ivan Smith came up short. The book is written with less personality than Al Gore! Smith's writing is so dry that it is a struggle to wade through the slower parts(and there are many of them). Amin is infamous for his insanity, his humor, and for his brutality...Smith seems to want to focus more on his politics. Idi's politics weren't very interesting, hence the dullness of the book. Don't get me wrong, some of the madness is captured here. The trouble is that Smith can't keep his obvious bias and lack of comprehension out of the book. Idi Amin was a terrible human being, make no mistake about it, but Time magazine gave me more to hold my interest in one 1977 article than Mr. Smith manages in this 198-page yawn. Look elsewhere if you want to see the train wreck that was Idi Amin!
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