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

4.07  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,282 Ratings  ·  174 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
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published March 23rd 2011 by Little, Brown and Company (first published March 23rd 2010)
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Community Reviews

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Petra X
I read Dinner With Mugabe: The Untold Story Of A Freedom Fighter Who Became A Tyrant but I have this book in the shop. Does anyone know if it is worth reading as well, or it's all more-or-less in Dinner?

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 I
May 20, 2015 Caroline rated it really liked it
Recommended to Caroline by: Shelley
Shelves: world

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
Apr 22, 2014 Merilee rated it it was amazing
Brilliant book on the tragedy that is Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe. Peter Godwin, a native white Zimbabwean, sneaks back into the country in 2008 even though, as a "foreign" journalist, he is banned. The book is written like a memoir, with Peter visiting many old friends throughout the terror-torn country. It is very difficult to read more than 10 or 20 pages at a time, as the torture and rape and cholera and AIDS and poverty tend to drown one in horror. Godwin and his friends manage to keep the ...more
Jul 03, 2012 Katy rated it it was amazing
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?
Apr 24, 2014 Laura rated it it was amazing
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
May 20, 2011 Care rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history-africa
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,
Peter Godwin
Jan 23, 2011 Peter Godwin rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
Apr 22, 2011 Caleb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 28, 2011 emily rated it really liked it
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
Irene Mcintyre
Sep 26, 2014 Irene Mcintyre rated it really liked it
"Any return to normality(after an agreement to power sharing with Morgan Tsvangirai and the MDC) threatens Mugabe's power, she explains. Improvement in conditions is associated with the MDC coming into government. If it continues (small bit of normalcy), Mugabe is undermined so they (Mugabe & his thugs) will likely try to destabilize things in their own country."

Just a short quote from the book which was filled with humanity, horror, and surprisingly some seriously funny laugh out loud humor
Jun 02, 2011 Andrea rated it really liked it
Shelves: zimbabwe
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
Jul 31, 2012 Althea rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"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
Jul 28, 2015 David rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Important, urgent, angry reporting, unfortunately marred by prose like "Deep in my stomach, I feel a hernia of panic rising, polyps of fear threatening to burst out of the abdominal wall of my calm."
Aug 13, 2011 Tanya rated it it was amazing
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.
Mar 12, 2011 Kathy rated it really liked it
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.
Nov 10, 2014 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finished this book about a week ago and have delayed writing a review because I find it very difficult to put my response into words.

First, though, Peter Godwin, and the people who told their stories deserve huge credit for doing what it took to gather this information and write the book.

Because there is so much horror in many parts of the world, I know people become inured to it, and what Godwin writes of might not be regarded as exceptional... But Zimbabwe will always be my home country, ev
Susan Hirtz
Not for the faint-of-heart, The Fear was written while on a visit to Godwin's former home in Zimbabwe after interviewing hundreds of atrocity survivors in 2007. If you go to his website, you can follow up on his work as a journalist in Africa.

Others have reviewed this book extensively and well, so this is not a duplication. A few words of advice: obvious bias occurs against Mugabe and his followers, but as in many parts of the world, (especially the African continent) caution is wise when judgi
Jason Walker
Dec 01, 2011 Jason Walker rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 24, 2012 Angela rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 02, 2013 Patrick Carroll rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Tariq Mahmood
Mar 06, 2013 Tariq Mahmood rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For the oldest race in the world, the Africans bring the best and worst out on show. This book an important one. It shows the depth of human depravity, avarice juxtaposing with the heights of en devour and struggle for survival. Mugabe is making a fool of the civilized world by breaking all rules of democracy. I would argue that if there was any real threat to democracy, it comes from 'democrats' like Robert Mugabe. Why the world is quiet in the face of such blatant and systematic mockery of all ...more
May 04, 2013 Dozo rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Peter Godwin returns to Zimbabwe to see the destruction spread by the increasingly teetering Mugabe regime. Having lost national elections, Mugabe turns his rage towards opposition supporters as well as his increasingly deprived people. Godwin meets and interviews key people in Zimbabwe's opposition and victims of Mugabe's sympathisers, chronicling their fate at the hands of "The Fear". While the book is depressing and harrowing, it becomes apparent that unlike in his previous books, Godwin no l ...more
Nov 02, 2011 Wendy rated it really liked it
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
Aug 02, 2011 Janet Kincaid rated it really liked it
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
Apr 10, 2011 Melissa Acuna rated it it was amazing
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.

Jun 06, 2014 Marcy rated it liked it
I admire Peter Godwin for returning to Zimbabwe where he grew up, (his father having been the head engineer of the mines, and his mother having been a nurse in a hospital), in order to use his gift as a journalist to record the atrocities that occurred under the rule of Robert Mugabe at the end of his dictatorship. Mugabe and his "police" were villains, torturing men, women and children if anyone in that family voted, or were preparing to vote, against Mugabe. Godwin "bears witness" to the "fear ...more
Tom Schulte
Sep 08, 2015 Tom Schulte rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Mugabe is the current President of Zimbabwe, serving since 31 December 1987. As one of the leaders of the rebel groups against white minority rule, he was elected as Prime Minister, head of government, in 1980, and served in that office until 1987, when he became the country's first executive head of state. He has led the Zimbabwe African National Union – Patriotic Front (ZANU–PF) since 1975. Born in the Rhodesia now called Zimbabwe, journalist Peter Godwin returned to his homeland in 2008 after ...more
Tom Hallberg
Jan 23, 2016 Tom Hallberg rated it it was ok
Shelves: africa
While the accounts are true, Godwin focuses only on the negative aspects of Zimbabwe and little of the positives. His accounts are based on facts but he writes with an agenda in mind. He fails to capture the spirit of the every day Zimbabwean people and their enduring nature.
Feb 14, 2015 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stunning, haunting, tragic. This isn't just an academic or top-down look at the chaos that Robert Mugabe has caused, but how a paranoid dictator and his henchman can destroy everything that was once good about a country. Zimbabwe should be one of the richest countries in Africa, but it's one of the poorest, with life expectancies only in the thirties, thanks to the collapse of the health care system and the economy. The one saving grace, if it can be called that, is that Mugabe is over 90, and n ...more
Mar 12, 2013 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
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.
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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 about Peter Godwin...

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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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