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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bitter harvest that is still in the process of being reaped.
I purchased this book following the death of Ian Smith. I had read a number of obituaries in the British press, some of which were more sympathetic to the man than others. I was curious to learn more about the so-called "Great Betrayal" of the title. I was already familiar with "the dreadful aftermath" as Zimbabwe is rarely out of the news these days.

Like many...
Published on 7 May 2008 by Lance Grundy

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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable man, poor writer
I am a different Michael Taylor from the author of an earlier review.

I think this book was published without a word altered from the author's draft. It even manages to have 3 titles - Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (and the dreadful aftermath).

Ian Smith was always a controversial figure, even in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe where he was well to the right...
Published on 28 Oct 2010 by M. Taylor


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51 of 54 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A bitter harvest that is still in the process of being reaped., 7 May 2008
By 
Lance Grundy (Great Britain) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
I purchased this book following the death of Ian Smith. I had read a number of obituaries in the British press, some of which were more sympathetic to the man than others. I was curious to learn more about the so-called "Great Betrayal" of the title. I was already familiar with "the dreadful aftermath" as Zimbabwe is rarely out of the news these days.

Like many Rhodesians, Ian Smith interrupted his studies in 1939 to leave the safety of Southern Africa to fight for Britain in the Second World War. Smith explains that Rhodesia did more to help Britain than any other colony and it is clear that this was central to his sense of betrayal by post-war British governments - in particular the Labour government of Harold Wilson.

He reminisces about a Rhodesia where the white minority were `more British than the British.' Independently-minded, patriotic, courageous and family-orientated with a frontier-style `can-do' attitude. It was a society increasingly out of step with the mother country's soppy, soft-leftism and `progressive' politics. To Smith and the Rhodesians it seemed that the West had become decadent and no longer had the will to stand up to Communism. Rhodesia, along with South Africa was right on the front line in this battle and, as Smith explains here, the Rhodesians saw themselves as fighting not just for their own existence, but for the survival of Western Christian civilisation itself. He argues that the black majority were simply not yet ready to take over the reigns of power in the way the British wanted and were not politically aware enough to resist the lure of the Soviet sponsored infiltrators and agitators who were pouring down the African continent and into Rhodesia. Smith claims he wanted evolution not revolution and that, in time, majority rule was desirable but not at the cost of ruining one of the most prosperous and peaceful societies in Southern Africa by sacrificing it to Communism.

Britain's Labour Party disagreed and dared Smith to do his worst. Smith declared UDI, and sanctions - and a bitter civil war against Marxist insurgents followed. The Rhodesians gave a good account of themselves and, even though under sanctions, fought on for many years. The withdrawl of South African support [ a further betrayal according to Smith] made the situation untenable - leading to the 1980 elections when Mugabe's Marxist Zanu-PF swept to power. Ian Smith had the satisfaction of seeing many of the predictions he made in this book come true, but it is the sense of betrayal and treachery that leaves the strongest impression on the mind of the reader of this book.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Remarkable man, poor writer, 28 Oct 2010
By 
M. Taylor (Doncaster, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
I am a different Michael Taylor from the author of an earlier review.

I think this book was published without a word altered from the author's draft. It even manages to have 3 titles - Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (and the dreadful aftermath).

Ian Smith was always a controversial figure, even in Rhodesia/Zimbabwe where he was well to the right of the post-war white governments. The parallel that occurs to me is how Ian Paisley outflanked the Official Unionists in NI.

His account is partial and not elegantly written - but Smith was not an 'elegant' man - prickly and impatient with both colleagues and opponents, but with political skills of considerable weight. It is impossible to deny that all the citizens of his country lived more prosperously, more safely and more freely under his régime than under Mr Mugabe's rule of near terror.

Henry Kissinger (not a sentimental man) has said that he was moved almost to tears by the sight of Smith, with no cards left to play after Vorster pulled the economic rug from under him, still trying to negotiate a better deal for his country.

You probably won't enjoy this book much as literature - it's hard work sometimes. But you will learn something about a man who would, until his death, never stop speaking up against what he thought was the destruction of his native land. And who's to say he was so wrong?

If you read this, do so for the author's passionate love for his country and his passionate anger that the UK, the USA, and South Africa regarded Rhodesia as a bargaining chip they were prepared to discard in the Great Game of geopolitics.

MRT Oct 2010
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wake up call., 30 Jan 2009
By 
S Smyth (Belfast, Co Antrim United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
This account of the deliberate destruction of Rhodesia by foreign powers helbent on disastrous political agendas which are also an existential threat to their own states and economies in 2009, is a wake-up-call for people with an interest in such matters. The bulk of Ian Smith's ire is directed towards Great Britain and its determined drive to placate the OAU and maintain the Commonwealth via the policy of No Independence Before African Majority Rule (NIBMAR) irrespective of the reality on the ground that Black-Africans desired any such a thing, or had the slightest ability to administrate it beyond a cadre of Marxiist-Lennist gangsters intent upon looting Rhodesia's capital core, for their own purposes.

As per Henry Kissinger's pragmatic advice and South Africa's disastrous détente policy, as aggressively advocated by John Vorster, Ian Smith accepted the inevitable. Rhodesia became Zimbabwe. And Robert Mugabe in consort with Zanu-PF, rapidly instigated their intended programme to reduce a successful and thriving African state into the catastrophe it now is, whilst pocketing the loot and remaining in power without any possibility of being challenged. Which is the point of Communism, as Ian Smith was reliably informed by a Black African university graduate when asked why he was an advocate of Communism.

At the heart of this book is the observation that, when those who do not have to suffer the consequences of their actions persist in ignoring principles and sacrifice integrity for political expediency and personal gain, the state cannot survive.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Rhodesia - Appeasement's "sacrificial lamb", 29 Dec 2012
By 
J.P.Gomes (Lisbon, Portugal) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
Note: The expressions "British", "Americans" or "South Africans" refer to the ruling political elites; not the peoples.

"The tragedy of Rhodesia hinged to a large extent on timing". I took the liberty of extracting this simple but meaningful phrase from Ian Smith's "Bitter Harvest" biography, because I believe it tells it all.

A land self-governed but for diplomatic representation since 1923, Southern Rhodesia, later Rhodesia, had since those early days all the ingredients to be a story of success. An economic, financial, political and social infrastructure unmatched by its federation partners, namely Northern Rhodesia, (later Zambia) and Nyasaland, (later Malawi), it was no wonder that amid the early 60's independences granted by the U.K. to other territories under its dominium, Rhodesia's aspirations for full independence were also the order of the day. However, unlike the predominant trend of independence on the grounds of black majority rule no matter what, Rhodesia chose a different path; that of evolution instead of revolution. Ultimately, the majority rule objective would be obtained but under completely different circumstances. This was not to be because this alternate path was not given credit, first by the British, later by the Americans and South Africans, the latter due to Vorster's détente policy in the early 70's. These were times that appeasement and political convenience prevailed over principles. Thus, fertile ground for deception, double standards and so forth.

Looking back on recorded history, had Rhodesia asked for full independence right after the end of the Second World War, it would've gotten it. It would most likely be today's "african jewel" to which Tanzania's Nyerere referred to during the 1980 independence celebrations which brought dictator Robert Mugabe to power. A "jewel" for everybody to share, regardless of race, political affiliation or faith.

"Bitter Harvest" offers its readers a first-hand account to the country's history, the unequal struggle for its independence against foreign powers and against the colonial power, as well as the tragic outcome imposed by the international community under the "Lancaster House Agreement". Ian Smith's account is indeed a personal one, but nevertheless essential to broaden one's perspective on Rhodesia, its history and the birth of today's Zimbabwe. Not only was he at centre stage in the then local political arena, but the Rhodesian views which he embodied as head of government were not given the same publicity as others deemed more "suitable" by western media. Here's a chance to, in a way, make things even.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another angle to the story, 12 Aug 2008
This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
This provides an insight into the mind of a man who has always attracted a division in opinion regarding his character. It represents a man who was willing to fight for his beliefs and his country. However interestingly throughout the book he refers to black people as 'our black people' which makes you wonder at his real views and feelings regarding these people. However an interesting read and definately a must read for all young Zimbabweans 'born-free' who might know very little of our history. Great Book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The British ruling elite at their worst, 7 Sep 2013
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This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
This is a fascinating but depressing insight into how Governments betray and deceive other countries and their own peoples - regardless of the predicted consequences.
Here we see how successive British Governments, in cahoots with the US and South African Governments of the 1970s, betrayed the people of Rhodesia and then Zimbabwe.
In fact, Britain, according to Smith, the former Prime Minister of Rhodesia, was directly responsible for Mugabe coming to power in 1980 due to the then Conservative British Government's insistence on what became known as The Lancaster House Agreement.
The country was already on a path to majority rule in 1979, but the British just wouldn't stop meddling, according to Smith, and trying to engineer an outcome to suit its own preferences rather than those of the people of Rhodesia and then Zimbabwe.
In only a few short years, after Mugabe's election, as predicted by many, the country went from being the breadbasket of Africa to a one-party dictatorship, and a basket case, like all other sub-saharan Africa, except South Africa.
Britain should have disqualified Mugabe's ZANU party during the 1980 election, after widespread evidence of violent intimidation of voters, yet the British bottled it and disregarded its own conditions under The Lancaster House Agreement, in order to finally get its own way and abandon this country. This is just another shameful act by the British ruling elite - this time, The Foreign & Commonwealth Office - running away to avoid the serious consequences of their actions and forsaking any principles which they allegedly espouse and claim they live up to.
This is a must read for those interested in Britain's involvement in Africa but begs the question: can we ever trust the real motives and policies of the Foreign & Commonwealth Office?
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fabulous Insights, 15 July 2013
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This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
This provided me some fabulous insights into a period of history in which I was actively involved, as I lived in Rhodesia from 1956-1980. I was especially interested in the years leading up to the declaration of independence in 1965 - I had no knowledge of this period, and this book provided an remarkable view into this period, as recounted by one of the main participants.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An utter tragedy, 21 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
I thoroughly enjoyed Ian Smith's book, but was left with a feeling of utter sadness at the tragedy of it all. The book is well written and an exciting and absorbing story. I really don't understand the sentiments of the reviewer who gave it only a one-star. If you buy the memoirs of a politician, then expect the story to be of his political meetings! I found it very interesting to see the story through Ian Smith's eyes. I was a child in Rhodesia at the time of UDI, and I remember Ian Smith on the television, although I was too young at the time to understand what was going on. The book shows that Ian Smith was a truely decent and honest man fighting against over-whelming odds. Good old Smithy - I salute him! The book also shows the utter falsehood of the claim that the Rhodesian Front was trying to entrench white rule (as I myself believed until I read this book). This of course, is the political spin that has been sold to us all these years, and what everybody wants us to believe. The book shows that Ian Smith and the Rhodesian Front had accepted the principal of black majority rule, and they were attempting to lay plans for it to come about in an orderly and controlled manner rather than through a communist revolution, if only the interfering Westerners would leave them alone! The dishonesty of the British and South African politicians, especially Harold Wilson, and John Vorster, was uttery sickening. The book gives a very good insight into what politicians get up to when they are out of the public gaze! It also shows that what the normal people are told through the media is often a complete fabrication and distortion of the truth. I accept that the book probably portrays Ian Smith in a very good light, but then all auto-biographies will do; this is only to be expected in an auto-biography. No-one is going to admit to weaknesses or mistakes in their memoirs! I have read several other autobiographies, and they all do exactly the same thing.

Having read the book, it does leave a few questions unanswered: one cannot help feeling that Ian Smith should have been aware of the weaknesses of the chief of his army, General Peter Walls, and should have known that he would fail at the crucial moment when resolute action was required during the 1980 elections. Even then, at the 11th hour, it could have been saved, but the two men who were in a position to take action; Peter Walls and Abel Muzerewa, failed at the crucial moment. Ian Smith even says in his book that Peter Walls had a personal dislike for him, and he did nothing about it. Ian Smith should have known his army chief and replaced him years ago. It also begs the question that if, as Ian Smith claims, they were well on top of the war in 1979, why they decided to go for the Lancaster House Conference at all? Why could they not have held out until more sympathetic governments had been installed in the UK and USA? Had they waited just 3 more years, Lord Carrington would have been off the scene, and Ronald Reagan would have been US president. The book gives very little explanation as to why they decided to give in to demands for an all party conference in 1980, since this book seems to indicate that there was no need to. I feel broken hearted for all the people of my former home-land; both black and white. Why does the world have to be like this? Is it not possible for black and white people to live together in peace and mutual co-operation?

I would just add a warning to prospective buyers: this is exactly the same book as "The Great Betrayal", so don't be fooled into buying both as I was! Finally - I thoroughly recommend this book: It is highly illuminating and a thoroughly good read; enjoy it!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 2 July 2013
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This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
Excellent book very well written a good read for anybody who wishes to learn more about the true state of Rhodesia, and efficient quick delivery to match
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14 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars One man's view, 12 Dec 2008
By 
E. D. Barnes (Essex, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal (Paperback)
I bought this book in hardback when it was first published. Since then Mugabe's rule has gone from bad to worse to diabolical, which can only enhance Smith's basic thesis.

My criticism is that this book is far from detached history. Smith has taken a very selective view and always casts himself as hero - his wartime exploits serve as a parable for everything that comes after. He fails to appreciate how a peaceful transfer of power in the sixties may have unfolded and how he helped inadvertantly to create the monster that now runs his beloved Zimbabwe and its people into the ground.

As an understanding of British duplicity in its foreign affairs ("perfidious albion"), it provides some interesting illumination.

Given Smith's impact on history, it remains an account well worth reading. Just don't swallow it at face value.
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Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal
Bitter Harvest: The Great Betrayal by Ian Smith (Paperback - 5 May 2008)
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