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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An awesome, gruesome achievement.
I found this book quite by chance and was stunned by its originality. Foden is particularly good at conveying the messy moral dilemmas of post-liberation Africa. The true-life horrors of life in Uganda under Amin, as described in the book, are shocking; but more disturbing by far is the narrator's own mental and moral decay in his position as Amin's personal...
Published on 23 Feb. 2000 by simongoudie@yahoo.co.uk

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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A clever depiction of a man unable to face reality.
The focus of the novel is the indecision of the central character. It is a study of a man whose naivete and weakness lead him to rationalise the appalling atrocities going on around him. Foden's concern is to chart Garrigan's moral slide as his involvement with Amin deepens, and he does not spend time describing the horrors that took place, largely leaving them...
Published on 19 Jan. 1999


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books I've read for a long time, 1 April 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last King of Scotland (Paperback)
Its hard to tell whether this is truth or fiction. The Amin stories definitely fall into that "if someone made it up - you wouldn't believe it" category. Foden keeps the story moving along and gets the reader to empathise, if not sympathise, with the plight of the main character.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Last King of Scotland, 10 April 2012
By 
Clare O'Beara - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
When Scottish medical graduate Nicholas Garrigan accepted a Foreign Office posting to Uganda, he could not have imagined that he would end up as private physician to Idi Amin. The first shock of the heat in Africa makes it harder for him to adapt to his primitive surroundings, and he realises that he has walked into a change of government with all the associated turbulence. Amin, newly come to power, is the centre of rumour and praise, but this makes life no easier for Garrigan as a bush doctor.
The ordinary folk coming to the compound for medical treatment from British, Cuban and Israeli doctors are mainly suffering from diseases, revolting internal or external parasites and infected wounds. Some go along to the medicine man as well, just to be sure. The rubbish gets burnt once a year and the only contact with the outside world is undependable post and the Israeli girl's mysterious two-way radio.
Garrigan cannot be blamed when, after some time in the bush, he treats visiting Idi Amin for a minor injury and accepts the dictator's offer of a position in the comfortable capital. He gradually gets to know the self-styled Conqueror of the British Empire in Africa in General and Uganda in Particular, who, in between disowning any member of his family who wears a wig and holding state banquets and press conferences, declares his sympathy for Scottish nationalist activists and offers to be the King of Scotland.
Gradually the interest of the Foreign Office in Garrigan's new position becomes clear, and the doctor's eyes are opened to torture and murder. He knows that to oppose an African dictator is to die, so he continues to attend Amin, documenting his whimsical outbursts, falling for one of his wives, giving unheeded advice on the Israeli hostages at Entebbe airport; until his nerves break and he flees through the oppressed country - straight into the invading Tanzanian army.
This novel won the Whitbread First Novel Award, and is remarkable for the reviews included. Journalist and politicians comment on how accurately Giles Foden has captured the manner and speech of the six-foot-six ex-boxer and soldier turned tyrant; they call this portrait a great achievement as well as his description of a time when the Cold War was being fought out in Africa by the opposing powers. Foden's second novel 'Ladysmith' deals with the besieged town during the Boer War and is based on letters from a relative.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but not great, 24 April 2010
By 
BookWorm "BookWorm" (UK) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
Nowadays probably better known by the film adaptation of the same name, 'The Last King of Scotland' is a political thriller set in Uganda during the reign of the brutal dictator, Idi Amin. It is narrated by a fictitious character, Amin's personal doctor, but many of the actual events are based on truth.

It's quite readable, whilst doing a good job of depicting the atrocities that took place under Amin. The dictator himself is well portrayed and from the novel it is perhaps easier to understand how a such a cruel and often plainoly insane man managed to win people over, at least initially. The narrator, Garrigan, is a rather irritating yet quite realistic character. I liked the fact that he is not your typical 'hero' narrator - rather he is weak willed, makes some very questionable decisions, and is generally riddled by doubt and fear as most of us would be. Whilst Garrigan's actions are not those I would want to think I would take in the same position, at the same time, I'm aware that if push came to shove, they probably are closer to the truth than many of us would like.

For all that, I wasn't really blown away by this novel. It was readable enough but I didn't find myself longing to read the next chapter. Whilst it generally seems to be labelled a 'thriller', it doesn't really have enough action nor is it gripping enough to fit comfortably into the genre. It succeeds better as a story of African politics and of dictators in general, rather than as a page-turning action story. Perhaps because I couldn't really warm that much to Garrigan, I found it quite hard to engage with the story and didn't feel absorbed by it. For this reason it was too easy to put down.

This is a decent book, but no better than that. I don't think it lives up to the hype. That's not to say it's not readable, especially if you are interested in African politics or history, but it's not one that would feature highly in my 'must read' recommendation list.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A good book, but not the film, 1 Nov. 2009
This book sees a young Scotish doctor, Nicholas Garrigan, go to Uganda after Idi Amin's rise to power. He starts off as a somewhat naive do-gooder type, but is slowly guided away from his principles by the system after he accidentally becomes Amin's personal doctor (Amin belives that the Scots feel as supressed by the English as the Ugandans did pre-independence).

As the book progress, we see Garrigan changed by Amin, whose character is as overwhelming as it is in the film. Where the book differs from the film is in the area of Garrigan's culpability. In the film of the same name, you are left in less doubt of Garrigan's general innocence. In the book, you get the sense that Garrigan is more aware of Amin's wrong doings at an earlier stage, and so might be more culpable in the activities that Amin got up to.

The issue of Garrigan's culpability is the one thing that irritates me about the book. You learn earlier that he knows of Amin's activities against his own people, and as a result, I found myself wondering why doesn't he do something about it (or just walk away if he can't do anything). The book talks about fear (of reprisals from Amin) and the fact that he's Amin's thrall, but I found that less than satisfying (or believeable), and is a reason why I didn't give the book 5*.
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars excellent gripping african insanity with Idi, 16 Jan. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last King of Scotland (Paperback)
amazing what a character Idi Amin becomes in this atomspheric materpiece. well crafted story drawing the reader skillfully into the madness of uganda at the time, and making Idi into such a magnetic loon. highly recommended
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A must read journey into madness, 30 May 1999
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last King of Scotland (Paperback)
Foden's excellent novel is a journey into the heart of Africa. It exposes the complex and sometimes horrifying nature of a harsh but wonderful continent and its leaders. It is a testament to the author's skill that the line between fact and fiction is invisible in this novel. Sections of it made me laugh out loud while other repelled me. The characterisation of Amin is first class and I wonder if he has read this book. Maybe like the fictional doctor Garrigan, the author will one day receive a telephone call from the retired tyrant. If he does and its an invitation to lunch, I'd find an excuse if I were him. He might just be on the menu.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get inside the head of a dictator and never get out., 6 July 2000
By A Customer
This review is from: The Last King of Scotland (Paperback)
You are not going to want to put this book down, and you might not like yourself for this. Horror is worse for me if it based hard and fast in reality and this is precisely where this book sits. You, too, will begin to see this man with all his contradictions around you - he too will get inside your head!
I was not in Uganda at the time, but I could feel the heat, sense the lack of respect for life and experience the violence that was Amin's reign of terror.
A taught thriller with plenty of entertaining twists and turns and superb characterisation. You simply will not forget this book.
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4.0 out of 5 stars "He Who Dips his Finger in Honey Doesn't Dip Once.", 21 April 2012
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This review is from: The Last King of Scotland (Paperback)
People are, as a rule, quite lazy thinkers and for convenience we mentally pigeon-hole each other. Obviously, the reality of character is much more complex than simple dichotomies of good / bad; introvert / extrovert etc. This is where this book excels in its study of Amin and his doctor Nicholas Garrigan. The charismatic attraction that Amin had is explored in depth. This is important because if we understand this then we begin to understand some of the major players in history.
Amin was not evil, he was simply the product of his environment, as we all are. The depiction of him as a cannibal, maniac and buffoon fitted our lazy stereotypes. He had the ability to draw people to him and not just through fear although that played its part.
I just love the dialogue - when Amin talks it makes him sound funny and real. The evocation of Uganda is also splendidly done.
Five stars would be awarded if the plot had stayed a bit more grounded and was less of an adventure. I look forward to dipping into Mr Foden's other work.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book, I was gripped from the first page, 15 Mar. 2007
By 
Louise Miller "corsetcrazy" (Somerset, England) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Last King of Scotland (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book so much I've just gone out and bought all Giles Foden's other books which I plan to read in the coming weeks. Last King of Scotland had a bit of everything in it - history, suspense, horror, romance, comedy and was an extremely well written book. I read it in one night refusing to go to sleep until I got to the end and it was totally worth losing sleep over. Foden sets the scene really well, you can hear, taste and smell Uganda on every page, wonderful stuff! I want more though, why did the book have to end?!
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Amazing!, 14 Feb. 2008
By 
Firstly I would like to say how disappointed that anyone would think the film is better than the book! Having said this, I read the book first and purposely waited until I had finished it to get the DVD out. I watched the DVD last week and really annoyed my friend I was watching it with by saying `Oh my god, that didn't happen in the book'. I don't want to spoil the book or film for anyone but quite a few things have been added or totally changed for dramatic affect. for example, one scene I enjoyed in the book where Dr Garrigan's diary is stolen and he hears Armin talk about extracts from it. It is terrifying but this was left out of the film.

Anyway - this is a review of the book not the film. The book is an excellent read and very well written. Despite Dr Garrigan's weakness we like him and even understand why he stayed in Uganda so for long. Some of the writing makes you feel like you are there with him. I really did say out loud `oh my god' a few times when reading this on the tube on the way to work.

Please give it a go. The film and the book should be viewed and read entirely separately. (Although I found it hard!).
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The Last King of Scotland
The Last King of Scotland by Giles Foden (Paperback - 28 Jan. 1999)
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