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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced account
This is a balanced account of Mugabe.It shows his good and bad sides and provides a possible explanation for his actions. I guess the most important thing is he is detached from the man on the street and the common Zimbabwean. He is definately not in touch with my generation of Zimbabweans.
Published on 8 Nov 2008 by Mags

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Portrayal that Draws Flawed Conclusions
This is a book framed by two meetings. The first was in 1975, when a young Heidi Holland hosts a fugitive Mugabe, who enquires gently about her baby's heath. The second is a two and half hour interview Holland conducts with Mugabe over thirty years later. She is mesmerised by the man from the first encounter and the incongruity of his simple expression of humanity she...
Published on 8 Jan 2011 by F Henwood


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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating Portrayal that Draws Flawed Conclusions, 8 Jan 2011
By 
F Henwood "The bookworm that turned" (London) - See all my reviews
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This is a book framed by two meetings. The first was in 1975, when a young Heidi Holland hosts a fugitive Mugabe, who enquires gently about her baby's heath. The second is a two and half hour interview Holland conducts with Mugabe over thirty years later. She is mesmerised by the man from the first encounter and the incongruity of his simple expression of humanity she recalls from her first meeting with his public image (and reality) as an implacable and ruthless tyrant, which compels her to get to the bottom of him. Her book details a series of meetings and interviews with Mugabe's allies (he has no true friends) and foes, which is interesting, thought-provoking, compelling and fascinating, before she finally meets the man himself. But overall the book fails to get the measure of the man.

Herein is the flaw. She is not able to get to the heart of the real Mugabe (if indeed one exists). What emerges is several Mugabes, not one. That should hardly come as a surprise. The nature of an individual human life, as viewed by others over time, is fragmentary and variegated. She does not attempt a convincing synthesis of all the various Mugabes that emerge from the (fascinating) interviews. Instead she shoehorns these into a tenuous thesis of a man with a tremendous inferiority complex, the origins of which lie in a lonely, insecure and bookish childhood, reinforced by the indignities and outrages of colonialism. He compensates the resulting sense of crushing inferiority with a tremendous will to power and domination. However this does not amount to saying all that much. It's a fall back argument, and it's not all that convincing. Many people nurse grievances from childhood and gnawing sense of inferiority without becoming dictators.

From this she proposes a solution whereby a senior representative of Britain brokers some sort of deal with Mugabe. In other words, it is the only way to assuage his inner wounds and presumably make him amenable to compromise. It is true that Mugabe both loves and loathes Britain. He hates it for its colonial history but loves it for many of the rituals and supposed archaisms. Indeed, anyone who has seen footage or photos of the opening of Zimbabwe's parliament in 2008, with Mugabe riding an open-topped Rolls Royce, flanked by horse-mounted police, can confirm this. The style and pomp is very obviously British-inspired.

However, having said all that, Holland draws too sweeping a conclusion from such a weak premise. It is also a `solution' fraught with practical and principled objections. For one thing, any negotiation worthy of the name would require the possibility of his stepping down or retiring, something he has consistently been loathe to do. Mugabe seems determined to die in office. There is thus nothing of substance to talk about. Further, the solution does not allow for any contribution from Zimbabweans themselves. It is, in other words, an elite solution that Britain, the former colonial power, would broker with a dictator who should have stepped down long ago. This in itself is not objectionable per se: it is only objectionable in the sense that there is no plausible reason to believe it could be effective. Otherwise it's tinkering and is likely to make things worse. What then should Britain do? Simple: stay out of it. Holland is right to note that British public condemnations of Mugabe have served no useful purpose. By all means provide humanitarian aid, asylum of refugees etc. but other than quiet ameliorative measures, it should refrain from making public pronouncements that simply offers grist to an old dictator's mill. However no shattering psychological insight is required to make such an observation. The recent power-sharing agreement, no matter how badly flawed, is probably better than anything Britain could achieve.

Overall then I would give this book 5 stars for the content, style, interest and balance but reduce this to 3 stars, because I take such strong issue with the author's conclusion and proposed solution.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Balanced account, 8 Nov 2008
This is a balanced account of Mugabe.It shows his good and bad sides and provides a possible explanation for his actions. I guess the most important thing is he is detached from the man on the street and the common Zimbabwean. He is definately not in touch with my generation of Zimbabweans.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Half interesting quasi psychologi, 20 Aug 2010
This review is from: Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter Who Became a Tyrant (Paperback)
This book sounded so interesting when it came out. It has its moments, with Hollands own meetings with Mugabe. But I don't buy the Hollands theories. Basically her point is that Mugabe was such a hero and how could he turn into such a tyrant? I think that first of all she underestimates the man when she says that a little boy is hidden inside there that sometimes comes out and has to shout insults to Britain and USA. She wants to believe this but I think she wants it too much, rather than taking another look and reevaluating her theories.

Beside that, Mugabe was never the hero he was painted up to be. Already in the first elections there was a lot of violence in the Eastern parts of Zimbabwe. There was Gukurahundi in the middle of the 80's when 20 000 people were killed. Besides that some people claimed that he was behind the deaths of Tongogara and Chitepo in the 70's.

Some of the writing is interesting but the whole theory that Holland tries to prove does not make sense.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well researched and balanced book!!, 4 Feb 2009
This book is the only one I have read that analyses the life of Mugabe from an independent point of view. The research is balanced by taking the story from varying perspectives. The icing comes in that the subject is also interviewed to give a well-rounded analysis.
I would recommend this book to any one who seeks to understand the background behind Robert Mugabe's rise to and fall from glory.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great praise for Holland, 22 Sep 2008
In this book, Holland records her travels from all over Zimbabwe (and the world), and interviews around a dozen people about Mugabe the boy, man and most recently, dictator. There is also a compelling interview with Mugabe himself, showing the lengths he'll go to to defend his policies.
Holland deserves loads of praise for this book, which comes up with reasons as to why Mugabe is the way he is. She completed this often dangerous task, and sheds new light on the African leader.
A great read, highly recommended.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Read the title, only buy if you believe its true, 4 Nov 2012
This review is from: Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter Who Became a Tyrant (Paperback)
This book is based on her first meeting, where she says she never actually spoke to Mugabe in person but was worried about her roast and helping to run him to the train station, and then again by NOT meeting him but through people who knew Robert Mugabe personally.
So overall, it does give the good and the bad about Mugabe ... when it is someone Heidi is interviewing only.
If you read it well, you will find she does not know the real Mugabe. I also found it extremely hard to read, since she presents Mugabe as a tyrant and not a liberator (it depends on your point of view, history etc).
However if you feel you can really ignore all personal opinions given and just want to learn 'what event happened on what date', then its not too bad a book to buy (stressed, IF you can ignore all opinions.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbiased writing., 24 Sep 2008
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I have several friends from Zim, so wanted to try to understand what has happened, why Mugabe has acted as he has. Heidi Holland seems to have achieved an explanation, and shows that there's more than one to blame.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mad Mugabe, 12 Sep 2010
By 
Ian R. West "deadwest" (Camberley, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter Who Became a Tyrant (Paperback)
This book really helps people understand how Mugabe became the tyrant he did. Heidi also provides a good background of Mugabe's education, upbringing and living under the Ian Smith regime. This book is well-written, compelling and educational. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in African politics.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mugabe, 23 July 2009
By 
G. M. Drew - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Dinner with Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter Who Became a Tyrant (Paperback)
Having lived in Zimbabwe between 1984 and 2001 it gave an interesting background to our experiences.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Good Book, Good Seller, 13 July 2009
By 
G. Wilkinson - See all my reviews
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Being my first review I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be reviewing the book or the lovely lady I bought it from. Luckily, both were excellent. The book provided an interesting insight into Mugabe- following his early years and examining the forces that shaped him, right up to the modern day. On the purchasing side, the book was in fine condition and promptly delivered along with a friendly email.
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