The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe
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The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  761 ratings  ·  150 reviews
Journalist Peter Godwin has covered wars. As a soldier, he's fought them. But nothing prepared him for the surreal mix of desperation and hope he encountered when he returned to Zimbabwe, his broken homeland.

Godwin arrived as Robert Mugabe, the country's dictator for 30 years, has finally lost an election. Mugabe's tenure has left Zimbabwe with the world's highest rate of...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 23rd 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published March 23rd 2010)
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May 29, 2013 Caroline rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Caroline by: Shelley

This review contains spoilers


In the middle of the book, Peter Godwin - describes why he has written it:
“I am bearing witness to what is happening here – to the sustained cruelty of it all. I have a responsibility to try to amplify this suffering, this sacrifice, so that it will not have happened in vain.”

And yes, that is basically what the book is about. A long litany of abuses – murder, rape, torture and beatings-up that have been inflicted on the opposition party and its supporters by Rober...more
Ms Bubbles SockieP
May 27, 2013 Ms Bubbles SockieP marked it as interesting-books-i-have-not-read
White journalists have a really bad perspective on Zimbabwe, citing all the evils Mugabe has commissioned, but never mentioning the even worse ones of Cecil Rhodes when the country was called Rhodesia. I wonder how this book will treat these two supremely evil governors, not to mention the vile Ian Smith?
A horrific archive of atrocities committed against an innocent people by a harsh, despotic regime that will stop at nothing - even political genocide - to remain in power. In telling the chronological story of the descent of Zimbabwe, this book picks up where When a Crocodile Eats the Sun leaves off. Even though the focus is no longer on Peter Godwin's family, the book remains intensely personal, giving voice to oppressed, tortured, heroic people whose lives, families and careers have been torn...more
This is my second Godwin book about Zimbabwe. If you are going to read just one, try "When a Crocodile Eats the Sun." Godwin wrote this by slipping into Zim following the 2008 presidential election which the opposition leader Tsvangirai won and long time president/dictator Mugabe lost. Mugabe's regime then cooked the results and brutalized areas that voted for the opposition leader so badly that the opposition conceded, but not before there was an agreement to form a unity government. The book's...more
Short Version:

“This a book by a brave man about people who are braver still. Peter Godwin brings us closer to the filth of the Mugabe tyranny than is bearable and portrays with subtlety, authority, and respect those who, against all odds and at the cost of unimaginable suffering, continue the resistance against it. Their courage is the stuff of myth, and in Godwin they have found their chronicler.”
David Rieff

Long Version:

Some books are tough to read. Some we need to read. Peter Godwin’s newest,...more
Peter Godwin
Jan 23, 2011 Peter Godwin rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Godwin was born and raised in Africa and practised as a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe before becoming a foreign news correspondent. The Fear is part history, part politics, part travelogue and is written as Godwin travels the country as events unfold, talking to Zimbabweans.

The name of the book comes from what Zimbabweans called the period between the two elections. In the first Mugabe lost and before the second the ruling party used any method possible to 'convince' people the change their vo...more
Reading this, I kept flashing back to, of all things, the Kol Nidre service for Yom Kippur. During it, at one particular moment, we all recite a list of all the sins we are all guilty of, a to z (arrogance to zeal for bad causes," an alphabet of woe. This book, at its core, is an alphabet of woe. It is a litany of miseries and failures and disasters and pains. It hurts to read, and reading it while taking the subway, or sitting on your comfortable couch, or wherever, is troubling and guilt-induc...more
Peter Godwin is a white Zimbabwean who clearly loves his native country. He returns after the 2008 presidential elections because he expects to join with his fellow citizens in "dancing on Robert Mugabe's political grave." But what he finds himself doing over the next three months is bearing witness to Mugabe's brutal crackdown on the opposition who have clearly defeated him at the ballot box, but to whom he refuses to relinquish power. Godwin documents the systematic terrorizing of men, women a...more
"The Fear" is absolutely superb. I bought this book well over a year ago. I didn't read it straight away, as I was sure that I'd find it depressing. Well, I didn't find it depressing. I found it enthralling. It made me angry, it made me cry and it made me want to go back and rescue my beloved country, Zimbabwe, from the greedy, corrupt, amoral cartel who run it.

Of course the question is "how"?

Peter Godwin has shone a light on their evil actions. It's the only way we in the diaspora can hope to...more
If you need a good cry, or haven't yet solidified your hatred of Uncle Bob Mugabe, read this book. Godwin is a very, very good writer. This book is heartbreaking. Will the old bastard never die?
Jason Walker
I don't know that I would recommend this book. I gave it five stars because the man who wrote it is fearless and amazing. I read this book because a woman I had been working with through a library vendor is from Zimbabwe and shared her story and her parents' story of escaping to South Africa.

The book is easy to read on one level as it is broken up into minute vignettes and pieces of stories that the author links back together. You have a sense of immediacy with this book and the narrative can r...more
What astounded me throughout this book was how the MDC supporters keep believing in democracy. They keep trying. They vote, get beaten, go back and vote again. They report the violence to the police even though they know the police are working for the Mugabe regime (and sometimes will say as much) and will not help them. Those who have the means (not many) get lawyers and go to court even though the court system is corrupt and most likely all that they will get for their trouble is another beati...more
Patrick Carroll
This is not a pleasant or easy read, but it provides insight into what tyranny means within a country and the slow disintegration of a society. Peter Godwin clearly loves Zimbabwe and its people and like his readers is forced to sit impotently by and watch the steady erosion of its potential under the rule of someone totally corrupted by power. The big question is can Zimbabwe avoid the final collapse into a failed state? The Government of national Unity may be a transitionary step but equally i...more
I enjoyed listening to the audio tape of this book being read by the author. His account of events in Zimbabwe since the 2008 election debacle paint a very bleak picture. It is hard to listen to some of the stories of the atrocities that were committed -- there was just so much and to such a degree that it was difficult to even wrap my brain around it. As hard as it is to hear the stories of the victims of the Mugabe regime, I felt like I had an obligation to hear their story, so that their suff...more
Janet Kincaid
Following up on Meredith's "The Fate of Africa", I read Godwin's "The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe." At one time, Africa's most prosperous, fertile, and literate nations, Zimbabwe is now one of Africa's poorest, most desperate, and despotic. Robert Mugabe has styled himself the Hitler of Africa and he has more than lived up to that styling. This is a man who, along with his political party, has raped, tortured, intimidated, ravaged, and killed whites and blacks with equal im...more
Melissa Acuna
The Fear is horrific and necessary. Peter Godwin details the systematic, state sponsored torture and terrorism in his native country of Zimbabwe. He recounts the stories of survivors with little flourish, just the simple language and details that are provided to him, making the events even more difficult and unimaginable. He's well-connected and has access to many leaders within the opposition, providing excellent political analysis and background to the situation with Mugabe's dictatorship.

This is my third book by Peter Godwin in just under two weeks and it recounts the recent history in Zimbabwe during and after the 2008 elections. Godwin's work is unprecedented for his deep political insight and unparalleled local knowledge, which he obtains even at great personal danger. This book is not for the faint -hearted and I struggled sometimes to read through some of the details of the way Mugabe and his internal forces tortured murdered and disposed of so many of his people. However i...more
Not an easy read, as I had to take breaks from it. The brutality, cruelty, thuggery, manipulations, desperation of Robert Mugabe and his thugs can easily make someone angry and disgusted. How one man has spectacularly destroyed Zimbabwe and not gain greater world alarm for it....baffling. A fascinating, disturbing read.

P.S. I hope there is a special circle in hell waiting for Mugabe.
I don't usually read nonfiction, but this book grabbed me right from the start. I couldn't put it down. The author's account of the destruction of his country was stunning. I felt his pain as he compared the land where he grew up to the present day devastation. It made me want to read more on what was happening there right now.
Amazing. It took me longer than usual to read this book because some of the stories hit you in the gut and you can go no further that day. This book is a testament to human strength and hope in the face of real fear.
Michael Parello
I found The Fear in the Current Events section of my Barnes and Noble and picked it up, intrigued by the topic of Robert Mugabe's Zimbabwe. I don't normally purchase books without reading reviews and doing some research but I saw the book's critical acclaims and figured that I would give it a shot. The one consistent criticism that I have heard about the book is that Godwin gives a subjective analysis of Zimbabwe based on the fact that he is from an affluent, white Zimbabwean background. However...more
Luke Goldstein
Every day when we wake up, we quickly take stock of our surroundings. Is light pouring through cracks in the bedroom curtains? Where is the end of the bed, so I don’t bang my foot against it in the dark again? How long do I have to snooze before I absolutely must get ready for work? These are the types of questions that plague many people each morning. Yet for others, those unlucky enough to be living under the rule of a corrupted and violent government, the only question each morning is more li...more
Zimbabwe (formerly Rhodesia) was, for many years, Africa’s success story. After a bloody war of independence, under the new government Zimbabwe’s infrastructure and educational and health-care systems were excellent (the country’s HIV/AIDS prevention and education programs were routinely referred to as models for the rest of Africa), corruption was relatively controlled, and racial tensions seemed to be a thing of the past. But as the new millennium began, this all came apart: race-based “land r...more
One of my favorite memoirs was When The Crocodile Eats The Sun, written be Peter Godwin. He wrote about his growing up in Zimbabwe, a golden , exciting place where he was free to run and explore with his Zimbabwean friends. He was leaving for school abroad as Mugave came into power. His parents and sister decided to stay as Mugave encouraged all foreigners to stay to enjoy "peace and prosperity". They remained to witness torture bases, burning villlages, opposition leaders i. Hiding the last whi...more
Parade Magazine occasionally runs a feature where they rank the world's worst dictators. They give little thumbnail summaries of various atrocities. When I see this feature I glance over it, look for familiar names, and then continue flipping through the pages. I suppose that Robert Mugabe has been a regular in these listings, but since I had never heard of him, his name never stuck with me.

But reading Peter Godwin's accounts of what has been going on in the last decade or so in Zimbabwe is so m...more
The Fear was devastating to read, yet impossible to put down. Devastating, because of the crimes and tragedies that Zimbabweans have endured--are still enduring--under Robert Mugabe's dictatorship. Impossible to put down, because for each story of torture, rape, murder, and destruction at the hands of Mugabe's henchmen and collaborators, Peter Godwin movingly describes the courage and compassion of opponents of the regime--sometimes at the risk of death.

Yet the Zimbabwean people's sacrifices ar...more
I have been waiting a long time to find out what happened next to this family so I am both eager and apprehensive about reading this. Godwin's parents in particular got space in my heart, I have thought about them often. Got this from the long hold list at public library so will have to read it quick! He is a good writer so only the grim subject matter may make that hard to do.

This is very well done but it is very hard reading. He bears witness and faithfully records these stories. It is hard fo...more
Todd Wilhelm
This book was very descriptive of the sufferings and torture endured by many of Zimbabwe's citizens who dared vote for the opposition party. It was disturbing to read, but I think it is beneficial to acquaint oneself with the reality of evil in this world. It never ceases to amaze me how cruel people can be to their fellow man.

"Mangezo's decision to stand in the last elections as an MDC candidate for Bindura Rural District Council, a hard-line Mugabe institution, was brave to the point of foolha...more
Sonja Arlow
3 1/2 stars

This was such a difficult book to read and to be honest I was relieved when it was finally over. I started reading it just before my holiday to Vic Falls and looked at the country and its people in a whole different light when I was there.

The Fear is basically a collection of horror stories of intimidation, gratuitous violence and torture of the Zimbabwean people during the 2008 elections where Morgan Tsvangirai (for the first time ever) got the majority of votes.

Mugabe being the lu...more
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"Peter Godwin was born and raised in Africa. He studied law at Cambridge University, and international relations at Oxford. He is an award winning foreign correspondent, author, documentary-maker and screenwriter.

After practicing human rights law in Zimbabwe, he became a foreign and war correspondent, and has reported from over 60 countries, including wars in: Angola, Mozambique, Namibia, Zimbabwe...more
More about Peter Godwin...
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun: A Memoir of Africa Mukiwa: A White Boy in Africa Rhodesians Never Die: The Impact of War and Political Change on White Rhodesia, C.1970-80 (State and Democracy Series) Information Literacy Meets Library 2.0 Wild at Heart: Man and Beast in Southern Africa

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“As we get ready to leave, Georgina announces that she wants to keep the kitten. But of course she can't. We walk up and down looking for its mother, calling for its siblings. But the nearby kraals are deserted, of both people and animals. And eventually we have to leave it at the gate of an empty kraal, the closest one to where it found us, hoping that this might be its home. As we start to drive away, the kitten totters down the dirt road after us, a furry ball of khaki with irregular black spots, and Georgina bursts into tears.

'Over the kitten? Really?' I ask, gesturing around the ruins of the torture base and the mass graves. 'With all of this?'

'No,' she sniffs. 'It's not just the kitten. It's everyone here. They've all been abandoned. No one gives a **** about what happened to them. They're completely alone.”
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