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Dinner With Mugabe: The Untold Story of a Freedom Fighter Who Became a Tyrant

3.58  ·  Rating Details  ·  395 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
At a time when the world waits anxiously to see what will happen next in Zimbabwe—when there is little food in the country’s shops, life expectancy is plunging and Zimbabweans are fleeing repression and unemployment—this book gets to grips with the man at the helm of a corrupt regime; the man behind the monster.

Holland’s tireless investigation begins with her having dinner
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Published November 10th 2011 by Bolinda Audio (first published January 1st 2008)
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Petar X
The author, the late Heidi Holland, did not have dinner with Mugabe. But she cooked for him and raced him to his train one night leaving her baby alone. He phoned her next day to see how the baby was. The author was a political journalist and very firmly an enemy of apartheid. She featured him on a magazine cover, that was subsequently banned (but by then it had sold out).

The book is about the evolution of the small, clever boy, idolised by his peculiar mother who was a thwarted nun, abandoned b
Honestly, I feel like my views of this book is colored by the fact that I don't know much about Africa/Zimbabwe. While I'm reading books like Dinner with Mugabe to remedy that fact, my lack of (embarrassingly enough) even basic knowledge in many cases made it difficult for me to connect to several of the events that Holland uses to examine Robert Mugabe.

The purpose of the book was not so much to describe how Mugabe affected Zimbabwe for the worse (Holland, and probably most others not in ZANU-PF
And this is why not everyone should be published. This book read like a school kid trying to make a story fit their image. I thought it would be an insightful view of the murderer and despot who has destroyed a country in the name of his gluttony for power, and all I got was some lilly livered person putting across a very shallow piece. Certainly not an author I would want to read anything else by.
Mutugi Mutegi
A most agonising read for me. Never before have I actually pushed myself to read a book that I admittedly found repulsive at several points.

The only pro among so many cons was the actual interviews with key persons in Zim's history and Mugabe's life.

That notwithstanding, the reduction of these interviews into superficial and almost nagging "psychological" evaluations (without much significant personal encounters with Mugabe) seemed overbearing to me. It gets to a point where one almost feels l
I found the insights into Mugabe's character fascinating, in particular how dangerous it turned out to be for his Mother and Jesuit teachers to have told him he was chosen by god. But the book didn't flow very well, and I recall losing interest about two thirds of the way through, although I did finish. Not "a book I couldn't put down", but an interesting one nonetheless.
Leo Passaportis
Jan 24, 2016 Leo Passaportis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The real value in this book is in the comprehensive selection of interview material which the author has collected through dedicated research, patience and dogged determination. HH travels between South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK in the main to interview key people who were either close to Mugabe or close to events which involved the man. The excerpts from interviews with Dennis Norman, Lord and Lady Soames, and Edgar Tekere come to mind as being particularly revelatory to me. There's really qu ...more
Kim Wong
In a carefully researched book, Heidi Holland attempts to understand how someone upon whom so many had placed their hopes and dreams became a symbol for African kleptocracy. Holland traces Robert Mugabe's life as far as the information can take her, from Mugabe's home town and tight-lipped family to influential former colleagues in the rebellion whom Mugabe ultimately supplanted and who have their own agendas to Ian Smith and represents of the British government who underestimated or misundersto ...more
Elliot Ratzman
Does the ego of dictators follow logic? None ever turn inward and blame himself for the violence and corruption of his regime but blames the media, saboteurs and enemies. How does one get to be a dictator? Do childhood experiences set the authoritarian personality? This book is a series of interviews: “This is Your Life, Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe.” A nationalist activist who after being jailed for a decade is part of the leaders of a bush war against white rule in Rhodesia, Mugabe is initi ...more
I picked this book up from my local library after hearing of Mugabe's awful actions on the news. What better way to understand the man than through the words of those who know him the best?

I felt that Heidi Holland wrote this from a biased viewpoint. She thoroughly believes he is not as bad a person as the media makes him out to be, and tries to explain his actions away by using the classic psychological technique of going back to his childhood. Sure, he had some redeeming qualities, but that d
It is not often that I have my mind completely changed about a person, especially the dictator of my home country.

A detailed re-count of Mugabe's life and the private and confidential tit-bits that make you realise the 'devil' is human. There is a lot of pain and torment in the history of this infamous leader.

He sacrificed much, including the woman he loved most and her happiness, to lead a country out of the dredges of post-colonialism. He does in some ways reflect Malcolm X's beliefs and teach
Really think that this book was an attempt at psycho-analysis. The write had no close encounter with the man himself, so I find it hard to understand how she arrived at her conclusions. I was not impressed to say the least!
Ger Byrne
Oct 22, 2015 Ger Byrne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book!!
Oct 27, 2012 Krasi rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In this book, Holland attempts to expose what really happened to Zimbabwe by embarking on an investigation of Mugabe as a person. Her goal is not to reveal the one main reason Mugabe went rogue or the biggest impact on him as a dictator. Further, the book is definitely not an attempt to excuse Mugabe’s behavior in any way as understanding does not equal condoning a behavior. Rather, her main purpose is to emphasize that the answer to the question “What went wrong?” is usually not a simple or a c ...more
Liz Farrington
Sep 17, 2015 Liz Farrington rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fbc-15
This is an exceptional book on Mugabe, probably in a class of its own. It tries to explain Mugabe's mind and background without apologetics, and I think it succeeds remarkably in that sense. My main reservation about it is that I think it assumes some knowledge of the situation in Zimbabwe; the form of the book, organized as it is by opinions/interviews, does not present a very coherent chronological picture of the atrocities and various problems to which it refers. At first this frustrated me a ...more
Nov 24, 2009 Melani rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I thought this book was very well constucted. It not only gave insight into the questions of Mugabe's background, but also into the crafting of an historical document about a man who is still alive... but at some point will become part of the fabric of the past. It is compelling to see that a man can still be living, and be seen so many different ways by his own contemporaries. It is interesting to see how the pattern of a man's life is not just established by the deeds therein, but by the inten ...more
Jan 03, 2015 Robin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very interesting book about Robert Mugabe. Each chapter is an interview with someone from different parts of Mugabe's life. Sometimes it's what they don't say that is interesting. An interesting way to see into the man.
May 05, 2014 Maiken rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really interesting to read about a country and its history, of which I know very little.

Heidi Holland has managed to pull together a lot of different stories from people in Mugabe's sphere, and present them in way that makes you get an idea of how someone like Mugabe gets to power - and stays there.

At times the authors interpretation and psychoanalysis of events can seem too much, but it is also refreshing to read a point of view from someone not afraid to stick her neck out.
Deeana Mclemore
Jan 08, 2015 Deeana Mclemore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well researched and thought out book but somewhat repetitive. Good incites into the life and character of a freedom fighter turned brutal dictator.
Igor Barbosa
Bit disappointed... The book is good but somewhat sluggish. expected more of history than talking of people.
Sonja Deneve
May 05, 2015 Sonja Deneve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Remarkable insight in the evolution of Mugabe's managing (sic!) Zimbabwe.
Mar 09, 2014 Dionne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bringing the soul back to Mugabe. A surprise.
Apr 01, 2013 Zachames rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
As much as Holland tries to convince you that she is not an apologist for a deranged killer at the head of a nation, she is in fact, just that. I have no doubt that there were a number of less than honorable parties that made Mugabe the paranoid architect of a failed state rife with human rights abuses, but don't hang me out on the fact that no one ever put his arm around him and acted like a father figure. Not every man or woman that grows up without a father becomes a murder.
Jul 25, 2010 Joel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty interesting, but she spends far too much time on psychobabble and depictions of Bob. Interesting, however, to consider Mugabe's character and the way he evolved from a reconciliatory benevolent intellectual to a hell-bent and murderous dictactor. A cool first-hand account of things like "land reform" (i.e., stealing all land for Mugabe's political elite) and Mugabe's self-perception (a strange combination of an inferiority complex and self-obsession).
Sep 01, 2009 Sara rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa
The portrait of the man who’s dragged Zimbabwe in the deepest of the abysses. It is interesting because Heidi Holland tries to analyze Mugabe’s psyche with the help of psychologists. As a result, the reader is in front of the man behind Mad Bob. Still, also with the truthful picture of his human side, I couldn’t sympathize…
Recato Cristiano
Dec 05, 2012 Recato Cristiano rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Historical and informatively very good. Good to know where things started to go wrong for Zimbabwe.

Having been to Zimbabwe myself and sleeping over at the hotel she describes in this book, I could feel the historical aspect.

Again would have loved some photos!
Jul 31, 2011 Sietse rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although a very interesting story and approach, the author has difficulties in keeping the reader interested and convey the messages she wants to convey. Sometimes parts are repetitive, but in general a very tragic story told in a surprisingly objective way.
A rather interesting collection of relevant anecdotes and interviews, purportedly borne out by Holland's wider research. Could do with the culling of some repetitive parts but nonetheless worth the read.
Corey Holmes
Dec 21, 2011 Corey Holmes rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found myself drawn to this guy.....i think when his first wife died he lost hope and took it out on the people of Zimbabwe..
This book gave some interesting insight into Mugabe, but I found the content to be largely repetitive.
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Heidi Holland was a South Africa–based Zimbabwean journalist and author who was involved in the journalism industry for over thirty years. She worked as a freelancer writer on such publications as The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, International Herald Tribune, The New York Times and The Guardian and has also worked on research projects for British television documentaries.
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