This week's "Book of the Week" is Peter Godwin's The Fear.
It's a beautifully written, harrowing account of the ruin of a country.
The country is Zimbabwe, formerly Rhodesia, where Godwin was born.
The year is 2008.
That's when the nation's long time tyrannical ruler Robert Mugabe lost an election and brutalized his nation as punishment.
Here's the blurb for the book:
In mid 2008, after nearly three decades of increasingly tyrannical rule, Robert Mugabe, the 84-year-old Robespierre of Zimbabwe, lost an election. But instead of conceding power, he launched a brutal campaign of terror against his own citizens. Peter Godwin, author of the brilliant memoir When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, was one of the few outside observers to bear witness to the terrifying period that Zimbabweans call, simply, The Fear.
At great personal risk, Godwin returns secretly to the country that was once his home. He visits the torture bases, the burning villages, the death squads, the opposition leaders in hiding, the last white farmers, the churchmen and diplomats putting their own lives on the line to stop the carnage.
Threaded through with personal history, The Fear is the brave and astonishing record of a dictatorship gone mad.
Accompanied by his sister Georgina, Godwin journeys through the ravaged, once-familiar landscape. They visit the grave of their sister, killed during the civil war. As they pour red “lucky bean” seeds from the coral tree in their old garden into the runnels of the letters on her gravestone, they call their mother, now living in exile in faraway London. ‘Where would you like to be buried when you die?’ he asks her.
‘At home,’ she says. ‘In Africa. Next to your father.’
Told with a brilliant eye for detail and Godwin’s natural storytelling gifts, this is a story framed by personal loss. But most deeply, it is a moving and stunning account of a people grotesquely altered, laid waste by a raging despot. It is about the astonishing courage and resilience of a people, armed with nothing but a desire to be free, who challenge a violent dictatorship.
And in the spirit of Ryszard Kapuściński's The Emperor, Godwin takes us inside the dysfunctional court of Robert Mugabe as he battles to stay in power even at the cost of destroying his country.
The Fear is, finally, an important, brilliant testament to humanity’s ability to transcend fear, to rise up, even in the face of astounding adversity.