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4.7 out of 5 stars
When A Crocodile Eats the Sun
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on 9 May 2013
A very personal and compelling memoir of the authors ageing parents struggle to maintain some quality of life and dignity in the country they love deeply which is tragically collapsing around them. The book eloquently and movingly describes the mess that Zimbabwe has descended into all as a result of one megalomaniac and his greedy supporting caste of cronies. One finds it galling that good and decent people like the Godwin's, who've given far more to their country than they have ever taken end up getting such a rough deal whilst immoral and selfish people seem to be getting on just fine. This book shatters the fallacy that the Mugabe regimes hounding of the tiny remnant white population in Zimbabwe has anything to do with improving the lot of the black majority. Godwin's sensible and careful analysis reveals the truth, that things have never been worse for the vast majority of Zimbabweans.
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on 12 July 2009
If this book was fiction, it would be fantastic. The fact that it's a story of truth and reality makes it a stupendous masterpiece.

The premise for the narrative is the author's (Peter Godwin who is a freelance journalist) and his family's grim experiences in Zimbabwe. This is at a time when the malevolent Mugabe is dragging the state into a dystopian madness.

Although he grew up in Zimbabwe, Peter ends up residing in New York. He tries to return as often as he can to visit his family who remain in Zimbabwe. In this regard he is steadfast and unwavering. He even enters the country when he is blacklisted and could face potential arrest. His parents are liberal, middle class, well educated folk who have decided to make Zimbabwe their home. Despite the gradual atrophy of their environment and lives, they are in no mood to budge. Underpinning their resolve, is a well tuned moral compass which works off conscientious and altruistic principles culminating in an ethical outlook which is solid and commendable. This forms a stark dichotomy to the ubiquitous malversation in the country they inhabit.

As the country deteriorates further into contused destitution it inevitably catches up with his family. Peter also discovers something about his father's background he never knew. This challenges his own self perception and prompts him to think even more deeply about his own life and even further family relationships. However, throughout this, he is assiduous in his commitments to his parents (to the point he forsakes time with his own children).

Human rights and family relationships are persistent themes throughout this book. Because his family are clearly decent people, and worthy of respect, the reader can only empathise with their affliction. However, despite the forlorn mood, the book has a number of very strong points. Firstly, it's an informative and trustworthy description of life in a country with a long litany of human right abuses. Freedoms and rights we take for granted are just non-existent. Secondly, the effusive nature of his parents and their salient ethical outlook is edifying. Thirdly, it's a story of the philosophical importance of home and the family. Perhaps, in tragic times it can only become evident how important these things are.

I can only but recommend this book.
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on 17 August 2015
As a child born in India, whose family went, with many others at the time of Partitian in 1947, to Africa. We went to Kenya before Nairobi was a city, and ended up in Uganda. I went by train to boarding school in Kenya during the era of Mau Mau and I found England devoid of colour when I was eventually sent there to complete my education. I know only too well the compelling pull to return and I miss the animals, the people and all the colours of Africa. Strangely my name is also now "Godwin" and I have always enjoyed reading Peter Godwin's books and am sorry I've finished it
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on 23 September 2011
This is an exceptional book from an exceptional writer. I haven't got anything further to add to the positive comments from the previous 5 star reviewers. From someone who is of the same vintage as Peter Godwin, who fought in the "Bush" war, now lives in the UK and has an abiding love of Africa, I have a significant amount of empathy for what he describes and shares in this memoir. My only regret is that I didn't read this book several years ago when it was first published because whenever one reads a book of this nature describing a country falling into an abyss, one could always hope and pray that in reality, in the future, ie now, the situation would be better. After all, the World Wars only lasted a few years. However, the depressing reality is that since he wrote this book, the situation hasn't got better, it has worsened. I am not sure I can bear to read his follow up, if it's even half as well written as his earlier books. Congratulations Mr Godwin.
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on 21 February 2015
On the day of Mugabe's 91st birthday, I write this review in praise of a book that has reminded me of the depredations of one man, Robert Mugabe, in whom the world once held much hope but who has reduced his country to abject poverty with an unemployment rate of 80%. Godwin's love of Africa shines through in the memoir. His love of family too. Whatever the wrongs of white supremacy in the past, his parents opted to stay on to help build a new country. That his father had experienced exile already twice before in his life adds to the poignancy of this story.
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on 20 September 2014
A simple, thought provoking true tale of the destruction of our homelands by murderous tyrants. Ignored now by the rest of the world for their consciences are salved, those who decimated the native people of America, Australia and other lands, to criticise those who saved, educated and nursed the illnesses of the people of Africa.

Peter Godwin has captured his homeland so well, his understanding of the people so deep. How may Peters, white and black, have fled this continent, to leave her so much poorer and even more open to the ongoing abuse by the Mugabe's of our world?
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VINE VOICEon 21 January 2009
Peter Godwin has written an unforgettable account of what is happening to the people of Zimbabwe in this moving history of his own family. This book brings home the appalling devastation Robert Mugabe has brought to his own country and people, the greed, cruelty and ignorance with which that country is now ruled, and the utter helplessness of the white farmers who have had their homes and livlihoods destroyed. The African people's determination to survive in the most appalling circumstances is both moving and astonishing, as is the courage of his parents, as they sit out their old age in a country which has grown hostile towards them. This is a book to be recommended on every level.
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on 31 December 2008
A lesson in what comes to pass when a megalomaniac is left to his own devices. Sad that a once beautiful country is now being laid to waste by a common thug masquerading as a president. Peter Godwin's and his parents' stoicism both amazes and shames those who have turned a blind eye to the suffering of zimbabweans. I guess one could put it all down to a love for their country...something obviously alien to the murderous thug who has systematically dismantled the country and brought it to its knees. Keep up the good work Peter and long live SWRadio!
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on 8 March 2009
More than any book I can recall, this has fired up a sense of fury and the will to get involved against the disgusting regime of Mugabe. The account of the breakdown of Zimbabwe society through the experience of the author's elderly parents is heartbreaking.

I would recommend this to anyone with an interest in contemporary Africa (and eternal shame on Mbeki for his pussyfooting with RM)as well as those interested in a family saga that spans the Warsaw Ghetto and post-independence Zimbabwe.
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on 13 May 2017
Fabulous book, very moving great insight in how Zimbabwe is run.
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