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The Worst Date Ever: War Crimes, Hollywood Heart-Throbs and Other Abominations

3.90  ·  Rating Details  ·  392 Ratings  ·  57 Reviews
When scriptwriter Jane Bussmann ("South Park, The Fast Show, Brass Eye" and "Smack the Pony") moved to Hollywood, it was supposed to be the start of something better. But a day job interviewing Paris, Britney and Co. left her trapped in the Golden Age of Stupid. Then she saw a photograph of John Prendergast in "Vanity Fair." His day job was ending war. He was also extremel ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published March 1st 2010 by Pan Books (UK) (first published 2009)
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MJ Nicholls
Aug 08, 2012 MJ Nicholls rated it really liked it
Jane Bussmann has contributed to some of the most challenging comedies of recent times—Chris Morris’s Brass Eye and Jam, along with other seminals The Friday Night Armistice and South Park. So it’s no surprise this book—blandly packaged as a screwball comedy—has the same unflinching bite and relentless bad-taste assault of her other handiworks. What the blurb doesn’t make clear is that this is a screwball comedy about Ugandan atrocities, particularly those by Joseph Kony—a charming lunatic respo ...more
Aug 04, 2014 Jaylia3 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I decided that since I can't afford to actually travel right now I would give myself the illusion of visiting England by reading the London Times Literary Supplement--which though it's free online turned out to have a (slightly) negative impact on my bank balance. In it I found a review of this memoir, which made me wild to read it, but it won't be out in the US until 2010 meaning no way it's at my local library--I was forced to order it on Amazon UK. The author is a comedian but there is some g ...more
Apr 04, 2012 Etcetorize rated it it was amazing
I bought this book for next to nothing at a second hand shop so that I could leave it behind while I was travelling but, it was actually quite hard for me to let it go. I enjoyed it so much.

I picked it up because it looked like a good humourous and easy read. And it is just that...even though it's about the war in Uganda. I never would have thought that someone could write an entertaining book about something so serious, but Jane Bussmann has done it.

She doesn't poke fun at the war or the insan
Oct 31, 2010 Tania rated it it was amazing
I LOVED this book, which I realise is an odd thing to say about a book that centres on child soldiers and general war, famine and despair in a sad, plundered African country. However, let me explain:

Jane Bussman may come across as a ditzy, pretend foreign correspondent, but I think it takes mad intelligence to take such serious subject matter and make it funny.

The truth is, that like all of the magazines and papers that turned her article about the Ugandan war down know, people don't want to re
Apr 22, 2012 Emily rated it really liked it
Unexpectedly really good. Blew through it pretty quickly. Had to slog through the first couple chapters about her work in LA in celebrity journalism where you just want to shoot the author to put her out of her misery (and yours). But it takes a turn and all of a sudden she's dropped into Uganda researching the horrible brutalities occurring there. And somehow manages to do it without losing the dry sarcastic sense of humor she had been applying to the ridiculous celebrity scene. Entertaining an ...more
Jan 13, 2011 Nathaniel rated it really liked it
Shelves: africa, nonfiction
I purchased this book because Michella Wrong endorses it emphatically and because she is a lioness and a scholar with an incredible talent for writing about Africa. I had my doubts during the first seventy pages, wherein the humor has a fast looming expiration date because of how time-bound and referential it is. Suspecting that Bussmann would not have insider status in Uganda made it hard to believe that she could get the same traction with her jokes in a foreign context. Plus, it isn't easy to ...more
Apr 02, 2015 Ed rated it it was amazing
I was aware of this book for years but it was only available from the UK--it must have an odd printing/publishing story because now there seem to be hundreds of copies available from remainder houses in the US.

Five stars because Jane Bussmann is cynical and self-deprecating with a terrific eye for the telling detail. And funny as hell. She is a talented storyteller and has a lot to tell.
Jan 24, 2011 Abby rated it really liked it
This book is insanely educational. It teaches you everything there is to know about the war in Uganda, but is hilarious the entire way through. It is an incredible mirror to western cultures and reminds us how vital it is to remember the world around us. This is such a clever book and Bussmann is genius in using entertainment to bring awareness to one of the most terrifying tragedies occuring in the world today.
Harry Rutherford
This is a genuinely funny book about war crimes, corruption and the failure of international aid/politics — which is odd.

Perhaps there are times when the jokes start to get in the way of the book's more serious purpose, or the combination feels a bit weird; but honestly, not as much as you might think.
Lisa Faye
Jun 06, 2015 Lisa Faye rated it it was ok
Yeah, this book was pretty terrible. I think that I missed a lot of the jokes since I'm not British, but also I was generally offended by the attempts to use comedy in places where I just didn't think comedy belonged at all. Also, Bussmann knows nothing about the world of aid, but critiques it in a way that will just encourage more and more people to support decreasing aid budgets. So not only is it funny, it is also damaging. Finally, everything before page 200 was the worst. Not smart or funny ...more
May 01, 2013 Chiara rated it liked it
It started off ok but some things you can't make a joke of and were in poor taste...
Holly Nessling
Apr 15, 2016 Holly Nessling rated it it was amazing
Brilliant writing, had be sobbing with laughter whilst also simultaneously about Ugandan politics.

It seems wrong in some ways to be laughing whilst reading about child abduction, sexual exploitation and abuse of children, the LRA and Joseph Kony but it was worth it as I am now more informed, more amused and more horrified: an interesting combination.

I cannot recommend it highly enough. Everyone with any interest in international politics, Aid and international development should read it. In fact
Oct 08, 2014 Rae rated it it was amazing
I read a different version of this book - it appears they've released a more Americanized version, when the one I read was very, very British. I'm assuming the crux of the book is still the same, and I completely loved this book.

Could not put it down.

Except to barrage my husband with stories and facts from the book.

By the end of the book, I felt very guilty of falling prey to the very format the Hollywood producers she met suggested - start heavy with Hollywood, celebrity journalism, followed by
Jan 13, 2010 Michael rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Fans of comedy
Recommended to Michael by: No-one
I have mixed feeling about Jane Bussmann's book. It is, by turns, incredibly moving and amazingly funny - and does a remarkable job of shifting from hilariously narrating the Hollywood life of a gossip columnist, to a harrowing and terrifying vision of life in civil-war torn Uganda.

But this is really one of the problems with the book; the cover and the light-hearted opening don't give a fair indication of the sad tale of horrifying poverty and the kidnap and rape of Ugandan children that the sto
Liz Ely
Jan 02, 2012 Liz Ely rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Antoinette Maria
Jan 28, 2013 Antoinette Maria rated it liked it
The Hollywood parts are really funny-many in a a laugh out loud and tears come to your eyes kind of way. The Uganda parts less so, but, well, how could they not be? One of the things that I love is that she calls people/countries/organizations out when they try to make some of the issues seem more complicated than they are as an excuse for not intervening when intervention could help. What I don't like: some things are more complicated than she's willing to concede and her idea that she seems to ...more
May 01, 2013 Marian rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoir-biography
Disappointing, after a strong recommendation from a bookseller friend. The subject(s) are interesting (self-discovery, career struggle) and compelling (child armies and government corruption in Uganda conveniently ignored by Western powers), but the writer's voice fails to cohere into a stable, trustworthy entity. It's a hard assignment, to bring authority (however variously this could be achieved; certainly it doesn't need to be Morrovian or Cronkite-like) to the Uganda sections and the writer ...more
Catherine Zengerer
May 31, 2014 Catherine Zengerer rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! It's side-splittingly funny, a fascinating insight into vacuous celebrity life in LA and a very well-constructed narrative. Through her use of humour Hand is able to take us into a world many of us would not ordinarily face up to - the regular kidnap, rape and torture of girls (and boys) in Uganda and the Congo, the corruption of some African governments, and the failure of many aid organisations to recognise or respond to how they are playing into that corruption. Jane explor ...more
Michal Leon
Mar 17, 2011 Michal Leon rated it liked it
This is a different book, quite fun to read and educational, too. It is the true story of a British comedy writer going to Hollywood to make it as a movie screenwriter, facing a harsh reality that finds her becoming a celebrity journalist (and here come some sobering stories on how stars images are distorted and kept airbrushed by publicists).
Then she gets into a romantic fantasy leading her to war-torn Uganda, and to yet another sobering experience of "serious journalism", what it means and wh
Wendy Jackson
Jan 16, 2016 Wendy Jackson rated it really liked it
This was my second read of the book, and I enjoyed it just as much as the first time. I found it useful for getting a basic understanding of (and a refresher on) what was happening in Uganda (though now I need to research the current situation). Not everyone would appreciate Bussmann's approach or her humour, which at times is pretty borderline, given the subject matter.
Jan 02, 2015 Brendan rated it really liked it
If it wasn't for the comedic angle I would have put this down after the first chapter as too depressing, however I read completely and thoroughly enjoyed. A brilliant presentation of a sobering subject.
Holly Cruise
Aug 03, 2013 Holly Cruise rated it really liked it
Shelves: comedy, society, culture
This book is utterly utterly inappropriate and that's what makes it brilliant. Sarcastic, obnoxious, and obscenely funny (where 'obscenely' means both 'very' and 'rude'), Bussmann's story is one of brutal honesty, both about herself and about her experiences in the totally different worlds of Hollywood idiocy and Ugandan civil war horror. She manages to inform while sticking to the golden rule of decent comedy - she only mocks those more powerful than herself, or those in on her jokes (there is ...more
Feb 08, 2012 Fox rated it it was amazing
"I was so into politics by now, I'd bought a trench coat." This is the attitude with which Jane Bussman travels to Uganda. This book is brilliant - astute because of it's naivety. You're compelled to keep reading, because she keeps digging deeper.
As someone who's travelled across African countries, some of these scenes are very familiar, and wonderfully depicted. And as someone who's writing a book set in the region, I admire the way she's tackled the issues; with humour. There are scenarios an
Bill Bridges
Jul 09, 2013 Bill Bridges rated it it was amazing
This is book I approached with some level of skepticism (Hollywood Celebrity interviewer goes to Africa), but my expectations were completely blown away. This book is one of the most disturbing and eye-opening books I've ever read. Approaching a subject that we were probably all a bit over saturated with a few years back (Kony) with brutal, no-punches pulled prose truly brings the atrocities occurring home in a way a 10 minute soundtracked video can not. Additionally, the author brings a sense o ...more
Sep 06, 2013 Johanna rated it really liked it
A member of my book club picked this for us to read just as I was getting ready to go on vacation to Costa Rica. It was perfect travel/beach reading. The writing is clever but accessible and the story is simultaneously hilarious and heartbreaking. It's kind of a memoir, chronicling Jane Bussman's shift from celebrity journalist to genuine foreign correspondent to playwright and comidienne, all the while laying out the conflict between the Ugandan government and madman Joseph Kony in clear and en ...more
Jan 08, 2014 Marla rated it really liked it
While the romance side of the story was only meant as an offering for the title, the content around the under-reported civil wars, child soldiers, displacement and mutilation of the people in central Africa in the current day was rivettingly horrid yet candidly eye-opening for the reader. Jane gives a graphic yet memorable account with underlying poigniancy, as her intial unrequieted desire for a notable peacemaker is transformed into a truer heart for those affected and histories long since rew ...more
Jan 08, 2015 Elliot rated it it was amazing
One of the funniest books I've ever read. Also; I know about Uganda now.
Silma Parker
Jan 26, 2013 Silma Parker rated it it was amazing
I actually really loved this book! the beginning dragged a bit and a put it aside quite often, bit when the author got to the Uganda bits, it was all systems go, and I finished the rest of it in two days. The author is extremely likeable with her self-deprecating humour and sarcastic observation of the environment. The story is well-written and evocative, and the subject matter particularly interesting in the wake of the super-viral "Stop Kony" campaign of 2012. Would definitely recommend this t ...more
Nan Fee
May 06, 2014 Nan Fee rated it it was ok
As much as I wanted to, I just did not warm to this book. Bussmann did an amazing job exposing the secret war of Uganda and documenting some of the countless atrocities carried out there with courage and wit but that's just the problem. I didn't find her funny at all. There wasn't one 'laugh out loud' moment for me and by the end of the book I was happy to say goodbye. Humour is subjective of course and that's not to say that someone else won't love this book.
Jan 22, 2014 Martini rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
This is one of those educational books in disguise. Although the book doesn't tell you much about long term strategy and future plans, it tells you everything you need to know about the effect on the individuals and less wealthy areas in The Congo and Uganda area.
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