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The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda
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The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget: Murder and Memory in Uganda

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  313 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
From a new star of American journalism, a riveting murder mystery that reveals the forces roiling today’s Africa

From Rwanda to Sierra Leone, African countries recovering from tyranny and war are facing an impossible dilemma: to overlook past atrocities for the sake of peace or to seek catharsis through tribunals and truth commissions. Uganda chose the path of forgetting: a
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published May 26th 2009 by Metropolitan Books (first published March 3rd 2009)
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Sep 23, 2009 J. rated it liked it
Nearly flawless account of a cold-blooded political killing in Uganda in the time of Amin, and a view of the shifting perspectives that tend to obscure this kind of history, wherever it happens. Attempts to make the history comprehensible or the killers accountable are the subject of the book, a struggle nearly impossible in regions where blood has been spilled in the name of change, progress, or power. Truth and Reconciliation agencies are not unique to Africa, though, and Rice is able to const ...more
Aug 02, 2009 Melina rated it really liked it
Is it better to forgive and forget, forgive and remember, or not to forgive at all? Is the cost of justice higher than that of peace? These are among the questions journalist Andrew Rice grapples with in his recently published book on Uganda; “The Teeth May Smile but the Heart Does Not Forget”. The book is a personal story of one man’s journey to uncover the truth behind his father’s disappearance in September 1972. Eliphaz Laki, a member of UPC and a Saza (county) chief of Rwampara County in we ...more
Mikey B.
Jan 18, 2013 Mikey B. rated it it was amazing
This book examines the disappearance (and death) of a son’s father in 1972 at both the micro and macro level. We follow the struggle of the son to probe his father’s disappearance over many years in Uganda, which finally leads up to a trial that to some extent transfixed the country. It forced open many bottled up memories.

We explore this within the Ugandan context where Western values such as justice and human rights are juxtaposed against other pervasive facts like ethnicity, clan, religion, l
Leslie Street
Jul 19, 2010 Leslie Street rated it really liked it
When I was a junior in college, I checked out every single book that the Lee Library held in its collection that discussed Idi Amin. For weeks, I had nightmares about ending up a prisoner in one of his investigation bureaus. At the end of that period, I wrote a thirty page paper analyzing the Tanzanian invasion of Uganda under Walzer's Just War theory. Suffice it to say, that Ugandan history has been an ongoing interest of mine. What I appreciated about this book was twofold. First, it told the ...more
Bob Allen
Dec 31, 2014 Bob Allen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone, particularly western expats, living in or working in Uganda.
Recommended to Bob by: Stephen Allen
Fascinating book on Uganda. If you want to understand the psyche of 21st century Ugandans — how their history and various cultures shape their current worldview — this is a **GREAT** book to read. The title is a Banyankole proverb that is perfect for this book. It's difficult to classify the book because, while it is primarily Ugandan history since independence, there is a ton of cultural and anthropological information in the book.

Rice talks a lot about the ambiguity of Ugandans in relation to
Sep 09, 2009 Alex rated it really liked it
The author took the time to illustrate where each of the "characters" (this is nonfiction) came from -- even going back through the history of the formation of Uganda and the idea of tribes and tribalism within the pre-colonialism, colonialism and post-colonialism eras The author is extremely thoughtful, well-versed and well-studied on the cultural and historic context of the trial and the individual players. Although every once-in-awhile I got a peek into his own opinion, I felt he left plenty ...more
Jul 29, 2011 Laurie rated it it was amazing
Before I went to Uganda, four years ago, I tried to read every book available on the country. I don't know if I was just a bad researcher - but I found very little material - and much of it was outdated. I wish that this book had been available - I never learned so much about Uganda and its history. I really appreciated being able to read a detailed history of Ugandan politics with an accompanying understanding of each regime's effects on the Ugandan people. All of this was told in the context o ...more
Mar 29, 2011 Beth rated it liked it
I was not able to finish this book. I wanted to be able to finish it, hoping to glean some historical information about a country I know nothing about. But it went too deeply into the political back-and-forths and didn't focus enough on the personal story to keep me reading. So if you like in-depth political information, this book might be one for you. But it wasn't for me.
ETA: I gave it three stars, even though I didn't finish it, because I do think it is well written, an important story to be
Jun 16, 2015 Jenni rated it really liked it
A tough read for me, as I tend to gloss over when confronted with so many war facts, figures, names, or battles, but a REALLY interesting and well researched book on a topic and country I knew absolutely nothing about prior to this.
Sep 20, 2009 Alicia added it
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Jan 22, 2014 MaryJo rated it it was amazing
Compelling book. Andrew Rice takes the story of Duncan Laki's search for his father, who disappeared in 1972 and uses it to tells a bigger story about the civil wars in Uganda, and the legacies of that violence. Duncan is ten when his father disappears. He grows up and becomes a lawyer, and, when he is nearly 40 Duncan Laki moves to the United States, but he pursues the effort in Uganda first to find his father's body, then to uncover the story of his death, and finally to seek prosecution of th ...more
Sep 11, 2016 C. added it
Mar 26, 2015 Claire rated it it was ok
After all the international relations I've studied, I still don't feel like I understand enough sub-Saharan life to benefit most from this book.

That is probably the worst thing I could have said about it. So I should just regard as if it's Russia or something, another place I've learned so much about but don't have much hope of visiting, only maybe flying over (as I did over R. in 2013 en route to Shanghai and from Beijing, with the layover in Toronto, meaning it wasn't a US plane). I mean, I ma
Emily Cobbs
Oct 01, 2013 Emily Cobbs rated it really liked it
Good read, but difficult book to get through. Throw out any ideas you have of what a country is, and then read this book. The vestiges of colonialism took a lot longer to leave Africa than everywhere else. And throw out your ideas of justice and revenge, as well, because it seems Uganda has its own ideas of what that means. I'm not sure if they're better or worse, rather than they just are.

There's a lot of pain and resentment between the north and the south of the country, and it seems it will t
Michael Livingston
Feb 04, 2014 Michael Livingston rated it liked it
A sometimes compelling mix of reportage and history, using the murder trial of one of Idi Amin’s senior military commanders from crimes committed decades earlier to explore the complicated history of Uganda. The story sometimes gets a bit bogged down in the history lesson, but generally Rice walks the tightrope assuredly. It’s not a propulsive read, and you’ll find it dragging in the middle, but you’ll come away with a deeper understanding of the ways in which the huge rifts that cut across Ugan ...more
Jul 07, 2015 Desiree rated it liked it
I always knew the name Idi Amin, but honestly didn't know the whole story of Uganda's history - so for that I enjoyed this book. Living my sheltered US life, I really cannot imagine what life is like in many of these African countries with these insane people running things (I know some people think our leaders are insane, but it's just a wee bit different). Having been born there, though, I am surprised that the subject of the book thought he would actually get any justice for the killing of hi ...more
Feb 27, 2010 Corinne rated it liked it
While ostensibly about a murder trial, this book really is about the intractable "tribal" clashes in Uganda - born out of colonialism and carried on to the present. Rice does a great job of telling the story of Uganda from British colonial rule through the present, and all through the life of one man, Eliphaz Laki. Certainly all of Uganda cannot be captured in one book - much of the history of Northern Uganda and the ongoing violence there is glossed over - but, as a focused account of the Obote ...more
Dave Mccormick
Feb 15, 2016 Dave Mccormick rated it liked it
Tracking down his father's killers in a country that wants to put the Amin years behind it. Although I had some trouble getting engaged in the book, it is a good look at the events of the time and how Uganda has coped (or has not coped) with the murders and disappearings of those who opposed Amin, or were just the wrong tribe, or unlucky. In some ways, it reminds me of the film "The Act of Killing"
Sep 07, 2010 Marsha rated it really liked it
Andrew Rice follows the true story of Duncan Laki, a Ugandan man, whose father was killed during Idi Amin's rule. As Laki searches for his father's killers, and then attempts to bring those killers to justice, he is faced with resistance. Uganda has chosen to forget the past in order to keep the fragile peace of the present. As the title implies, however, the past can never really be completely forgotten.
Mallee Stanley
Jun 21, 2015 Mallee Stanley rated it it was amazing
This book was anchored around the disappearance of Eliphaz Laki and his son, Duncan's quest to discover what happened to his father. It also expanded on the political times before, during and after Idi Amin which were personally of great interest to me so perhaps I'm a little biased with my rating. However, I found Rice's style, easy to follow, gripping reading and his research appeared endless with all the minute details he touched on.
Jul 07, 2009 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, east-africa
This book follows the quest of Duncan Laki to find the men who murdered his father under the Amin regime and to find his father's remains for burial. While Duncan's story is compelling, much of the book covers necessary background and history about Uganda. It is well-written and moves quickly through what could easily become boggy material. I learned quite a bit about Ugandan politics and the difficulties of reconciling or even understanding past violence in a nation's history.
May 21, 2012 Jenny rated it really liked it
Very well done. The author follows one man's quest to find answers to what happened to his father during the Amin era. In the process, he traces Uganda's history, and once again, we can see how thoroughly colonization botched things. Apparently very difficult to find in Uganda, the book paints a rich history of the country and the struggle to find balance between justice and peace.
Winnie M
This book stirred lots of memories; including familiar places where my parents were borne, where I grew up and as well as the events that took place in those difficult days.

A must read for any Ugandan or for those interested in learning about life in the 70s and the struggles of families who lost their loved ones....
Mark R Wilson
Oct 26, 2015 Mark R Wilson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Essential for Understanding why Uganda Struggles

Excellent job of illustrating a very complex and intense part of Uganda's history. After reading this novel I wonder what is being done to help reconcile a nation that clearly has not been able to bring peace, justice and prosperity to so many who never buried lovers ounces that disappeared.
Jan 04, 2010 Christina rated it liked it
I wish I could say I loved this book. I wish that I could even say I can't wait to continue reading it. In all sincerity...this book is all over the place. While the history is interesting- the stories within this book jump around a little too much for it to be continually engaging for me. I can say that I'm looking forward to being done with it!
Jan 30, 2016 Jennifer rated it liked it
Shelves: africa
I read this book in preparation for my trip to Uganda and found it an interesting and personal account of recent political events. The book dragged a bit after the first few chapters, but I pushed through and was surprised by the outcome. Particularly interesting for its focus on the region from which current President Museveni hails.
Fred Rose
May 16, 2013 Fred Rose rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: global-issues, africa
A story of one man's attempt to find out the truth of how his father disappeared during Idi Amin's rule. How he found out, the trial that followed and how this fits with the recent Ugandan history are weaved together into a well told story. The writing was a little awkward at times but overall I found the book to be satisfying and it helped me understand Uganda much better.
Apr 21, 2015 Blythe rated it it was amazing
The best I've read on Ugandan history in general, and especially the Amin era...and a fascinating personal story about a father who went missing without a trace to give a moving example of the lives that were ruined during his reign of terror.
Katie L.
Apr 20, 2016 Katie L. rated it it was amazing
Big, big love. If you want to learn about Uganda and some of its incredible history under Idi Amin's regime, read this book. It gives incredible insight. The authour is a great researcher, I imagine it must have taken him years and years to compile this story together.
Wendi Klaiber
Aug 07, 2015 Wendi Klaiber rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
I read this book after returning from a visit to Uganda. I learned so much of the tragic history of this country, and the devastation caused by its' rulers. I would highly recommend it to anyone intending on visiting Uganda.
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