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House of Stone: The True Story of a Family Divided in War-Torn Zimbabwe

3.97  ·  Rating Details ·  351 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Blue mountains, golden fields, gin and tonics on the terrace--once it had seemed the most idyllic place on earth. But by August 2002, Marondera, in eastern Zimbabwe, had been turned into a bloody battleground, the center of a violent campaign. One bright morning, Nigel Hough, one of the few remaining white farmers, received the news he had been dreading. A crowd of war vet ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2009 by Chicago Review Press (first published February 5th 2007)
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J.L.
Sep 08, 2014 J.L. rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I liked the way Lamb alternates
chapters between the point of view of a black woman working as a maid and nanny on a white-owned farm and her boss, a white man who grew up in Zimbabwe and whose farm was taken over by some of the young thugs who have flourished under Mugabe’s rule in the last 15 years. Though I felt Lamb was too kind in her assessment of white rule during the 100+ years that Rhodesians clung to power, she managed to bring out the excesses of the liberation soldiers during the war
...more
Kimmo Sinivuori
Nov 28, 2015 Kimmo Sinivuori rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Even though Mugabe's reign of terror has pretty much fallen of the radar of us in the West, the tragedy for Zimbabwe and its people is still very much there. Christina Lamb is one of the best foreign correspondents of our time and this is a truly moving account of the tragic fall that Zimbabwe took from the cliff under the misrule of Mugabe and his henchmen (who became very rich of course). Essential reading for everyone interested in the post-colonial history of the African continent.
Lucy
May 24, 2010 Lucy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since I am trying to learn all I can before returning to Zimbabwe, I chose this as one of my titles. I was surprised to learn that the severity of the racial discord in Zimbabwe continued until so recently, 2005. I was there in 2009 and quite ignorant as to the country's history. I knew about the killings of white farmers during the 80's fight for liberation but had not realized it was still going on. This book tells the stories of Aqui, a black African woman, and Nigel Hough and family, a white ...more
Anne
Oct 10, 2013 Anne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I am married to a Rhodesian so I wanted to see what this book had to say versus the stories I already knew. It was an eye opener and gave me much more background information on the situation that I ever had before.

For anyone who wants to know what really happened in Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe) then you need to read this book. I now totally understand how the farms were taken over, the reasons behind it and how it went from one of the richest places on the globe there dollar worth more than the pound
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Philippa Smith
Jun 03, 2012 Philippa Smith rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this book in 2009 whilst in South Africa having travelled down the east coast from Kenya - I didn't enter Zimbabwe because of the dire situation that is, shockingly, still present. My parents lived in then-called Rhodesia until 1978 but left when it was evident lives were about to change, and whilst I've heard many things about the country I was shocked to read these perspectives and just how awful things had become. This book shows there are two sides to every story, unfortunately both a ...more
Chloe Lockhart
I was really looking forward to reading this book as it was a topic that I didn't know much about but was keen to understand.

I did find though that this book was difficult to follow and felt that there was probably a lot of the story I missed because I was losing track.

I also sometimes found that sometimes the story went too much into the details of the politics when what I was really looking for was a story of someone's life during this time.

I still recommend reading it because it is very inte
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Kahla
May 18, 2007 Kahla rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is an eye opening story about the troubles in Zimbabwe written by a British journalist that has made several trips there over the past 20 years. She tells the story through the parallel perspectives of a white "Rhodesian" and native Zimbabwean over the span of their lifetimes. I found the story very interesting, but be prepared for a bit of a history lessons as she rattles on about facts of all of the political struggles of the country.
Angela
Jan 28, 2014 Angela rated it really liked it
I enjoyed reading this book but I found that I was feeling rather depressed after I finished. I spent much of my childhood in Zimbabwe and specifically in Mutare (then Umtali) so I knew all the places I read about.

Zimbabwe was a beautiful country and its people some of the most cheerful and friendly I ever met. It is extremely saddening to me to read what has become of it now.
Maria
Dec 16, 2016 Maria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Happy to have stumbled upon this book in a used book store. Incredible journalistic feat - sneaking into Zim in the middle of a chaotic war - and an insightful personalized look into the conflict. Now seeking out other books by Christina Lamb.
purplemagnolia
May 21, 2011 purplemagnolia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
House of Stone spans 32 years in the lives of two very different people, one black, one white. Nigel Hough is a rich white Rhodesian, Aqui is a poor black Zimbabwean; they come from very different backgrounds and cultures, but they share a country. The unfolding story traces the intertwined lives of these two, against a backdrop of destruction.

The author, Christina Lamb, is a foreign affairs correspondent for the British Sunday Times. She has been reporting on the situation in Zimbabwe since 199
...more
Mandy
Jul 27, 2008 Mandy rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Readers of non-fiction, everyone

This is one of the best books I have ever read. It is riveting and nearly impossible to put down. I would highly recommend it.


House of Stone is written by Christina Lamb, an English journalist. In the opening passages I wasn't too sure if I trusted this author yet as I thought she was exaggerating (this is the scene where she describes a city's main market as reduced to rubble). I then turned the page to see a photograph depicting the rubble and it was there that my hesitation and disbelief diss

...more
Acatraps
Apr 22, 2012 Acatraps rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A story that follows the lives of a white boy who grows up to become a farmer, and a black girl who through a turbulent life emerges as a nanny. A tale of two characters from two different backgrounds who are steeped in their own experiences of colonialism, independence and then Mugambe, Lord of the Plundered Lands.

This book is impressively written with excerpts from the two main characters carefully interwoven into the background text. I found this story far more fascinating, though perhaps le
...more
Laurie
Sep 19, 2011 Laurie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I signed up for a volunteer abroad program in 2001 through my university to work with a children's orphanage in Zimbabwe. The group that went before me was contacted on their Gremany layover by the university president and were asked to return to the U.S. before they even got to Zimbabwe. I ended up changing my plans - the program has been closed ever since. Reading this book gave me a very good understanding why Zimbabwe is in such chaos while being run by a murderous zealot. I am floored by Mu ...more
Melitta
May 10, 2012 Melitta rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book is about black/white conflict in Zimbabwe. It follows the lives of a white Rhodesian man and a black woman, from childhood to adults with children, from 1970 to 2005, starting at the time under Ian Smith shortly after he declared independence from the UK. It clearly shows how the upbringing of children colours their view of their surroundings, and also how people can change, as their worldview widens.
Mugabe looms large in this book, first of all as a kind of saviour, then as a monster
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Radford Secondary Library
A powerful and intensely human insight into the civil war in Zimbabwe, focusing on a white farmer and his maid who find themselves on opposing sides. One bright morning Nigel Hough, one of the few remaining white farmers in Mugabe's Zimbabwe, received the news he was dreading - a crowd were at the gate demanding he surrender his home and land. To his horror, his family's much-loved nanny Aqui was at the head of the violent mob that then stole his homestead and imprisoned him in an outhouse By tr ...more
Marcus
Feb 10, 2012 Marcus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

A tale of two citizens – at opposite poles of Rhodesian/Zimbabwe society over the last 40 years, living alongside but always on opposite sides, eventually clashing in the farm invasions, expulsions and land redistribution at the turn of the century.

Christina Lamb manages to get under the skin of both to describe their delights, and lay bare their excesses, corruption and violent abuse. But after all, it is a tale of hope and reconciliation, not without hope of national reconciliation some day.
Margaret Sankey
Lamb tells the parallel tragedies of Nigel Hough, third generation British colonial settler and Aqui Shamvi, Zimbabwean native, from the 1970s until the Houghs gave up their farm and moved away. There are no easy answers here--the settlers were brutal and exploitative in their time in power, and Mugabe demented and spectacularly destructive in his, with both the black and white populations driven to poverty, exile and chaos.
Ana
Feb 02, 2009 Ana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The book goes back and forth between 2 points of view, but it skips large periods of time so I didn't get to understand the characters enough. It gets better towards the end, though, so I don't regret reading it. There is some basic information about Zimbabwe's recent history, so that's a bonus (or actually the reason I picked it up).
Luciana Betenson
Loved it. The narrator makes a parallel of the life story of two very different Zimbabweans: a white farmer and a black servant, who were born within a few miles of each other. She also interweaves this with the history of Zimbabwe and its struggle to become independent, as well as the descent into madness of Robert Mugabe and all the terrible consequences of his government to this country.
Tessa
Dec 17, 2014 Tessa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I love all of the Christina Lamb books that I've read so far and this one is no exception.

A very easy read and a great way to study history, as a story about real people.

It's a sad and unsettling story but something we should all know about.

Bravo Christina for having the courage to investigate and for informing us.
Nancy Mcdaniel
Dec 31, 2010 Nancy Mcdaniel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
this is must reading for anyone interested in the current situation in Zimbabwe. It is very well written and a fascinating account - kept me riveted wondering how the two lives would ultimately intersect
Kristen
Full of facts, this book is about an interesting subject, but it is a grinding read. I plowed through to the end and I learned that Zimbabwe is beautiful and a political and economic disaster. I'm glad I don't live there.
Rebecca
Jul 26, 2013 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: factual
Such an interesting book. I backpacked in Zimbabwe in 2001 and to get more of the story than I knew then has left me thinking about the book after I've finished reading it. Such a tragedy for a resource rich country.
Chase
Sep 22, 2008 Chase rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Chase by: friend in Africa
Lamb does a fantastic job of giving two very different perspectives of Mugabe's influence on life in Zimbabwe. Her interviews with Nigel, a white man, and Aqui, a black woman, make this non-fiction book come alive. I now have a much better picture of how and why life in Zimbabwe is devastating.
Sherry
Apr 17, 2007 Sherry marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Just got this book today after waiting for 3 months. It was highly recommended by our ranger, originally from Zimbabwe, during our trip to Mala Mala in South Africa this January. Can't wait to read it.
Signe
Dec 06, 2007 Signe rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
The more I read about Zimbabwe, the more complicated it gets. Lamb attempts to give an account of the current crisis from both sides, but I think her story leans to the European point of view never the less.
Caitlin
Jan 24, 2011 Caitlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
really liked the way this book mixed two personal stories in with national politics and african history. story of a white family whose farm is eventually taken over by their black neighours, including their maid. interesting look at what robert mugabe's done to zimbabwe, but very depressing.
Sandra
Jul 29, 2011 Sandra rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book, could not put it down once I started reading. Lamb does a great job telling this story.
Gloria
Dec 11, 2013 Gloria rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I registered a book at BookCrossing.com!
http://www.BookCrossing.com/journal/12374339
Wendy
Sep 12, 2011 Wendy rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. It is very true to life and sad. It felt more personal because I knew the people and farm that was written in the book.
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Christina Lamb OBE is one of Britain's leading foreign correspondents. She has been named Foreign Correspondent of the Year five times in the British Press Awards and What the Papers Say Awards and in 2007 was winner of the Prix Bayeux Calvados - one of the world's most prestigious prizes for war correspondents, for her reporting from Afghanistan.

She has won numerous other awards starting with You
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