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Dinner With Mugabe: The Untold Story Of A Freedom Fighter Who Became A Tyrant
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Dinner With Mugabe: The Untold Story Of A Freedom Fighter Who Became A Tyrant

3.62  ·  Rating details ·  544 ratings  ·  57 reviews
This penetrating, timely portrait of Robert Mugabe is the psycho-biography of a man whose once-brilliant career has ruined Zimbabwe and cast shame on the African continent. Heidi Holland's tireless investigation begins with her having dinner with Mugabe, the freedom fighter, and ends in a searching interview with Zimbabwe's president more than 30 years later. The author ch ...more
Hardcover, 250 pages
Published May 14th 2008 by Penguin Global (first published January 1st 2008)
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3.62  · 
Rating details
 ·  544 ratings  ·  57 reviews

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Petra Eggs
The author, the late Heidi Holland, did not have dinner with Mugabe. But she cooked for him and raced him to his train one night leaving her baby alone. He phoned her next day to see how the baby was. The author was a political journalist and very firmly an enemy of apartheid. She featured him on a magazine cover, that was subsequently banned (but by then it had sold out).

The book is about the evolution of the small, clever boy, idolised by his peculiar mother who was a thwarted nun, abandoned b
Honestly, I feel like my views of this book is colored by the fact that I don't know much about Africa/Zimbabwe. While I'm reading books like Dinner with Mugabe to remedy that fact, my lack of (embarrassingly enough) even basic knowledge in many cases made it difficult for me to connect to several of the events that Holland uses to examine Robert Mugabe.

The purpose of the book was not so much to describe how Mugabe affected Zimbabwe for the worse (Holland, and probably most others not in ZANU-PF
Mutugi Mutegi
Mar 03, 2016 rated it it was ok
A most agonising read for me. Never before have I actually pushed myself to read a book that I admittedly found repulsive at several points.

The only pro among so many cons was the actual interviews with key persons in Zim's history and Mugabe's life.

That notwithstanding, the reduction of these interviews into superficial and almost nagging "psychological" evaluations (without much significant personal encounters with Mugabe) seemed overbearing to me. It gets to a point where one almost feels l
Aug 07, 2011 added it
And this is why not everyone should be published. This book read like a school kid trying to make a story fit their image. I thought it would be an insightful view of the murderer and despot who has destroyed a country in the name of his gluttony for power, and all I got was some lilly livered person putting across a very shallow piece. Certainly not an author I would want to read anything else by.
May 06, 2012 rated it really liked it
I found the insights into Mugabe's character fascinating, in particular how dangerous it turned out to be for his Mother and Jesuit teachers to have told him he was chosen by god. But the book didn't flow very well, and I recall losing interest about two thirds of the way through, although I did finish. Not "a book I couldn't put down", but an interesting one nonetheless.
Dec 21, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
Who is Robert Mugabe? How and why did he become the person he now infamously is?

These are the questions that Heidi Holland attempts to answer in her book, Dinner With Mugabe. The author bookends this work with the two occasions that she met Robert Mugabe. The first encounter was in 1975, the young Mugabe fresh out of an 11 year stint in jail under the Rhodesian government. She remembers him as well mannered, well spoken and even compassionate.

In between her next meeting with Mugabe - in a 2007 i
Leo Passaportis
Sep 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
The real value in this book is in the comprehensive selection of interview material which the author has collected through dedicated research, patience and dogged determination. HH travels between South Africa, Zimbabwe and the UK in the main to interview key people who were either close to Mugabe or close to events which involved the man. The excerpts from interviews with Dennis Norman, Lord and Lady Soames, and Edgar Tekere come to mind as being particularly revelatory to me. There's really qu ...more
Kim Wong
Dec 26, 2013 rated it liked it
In a carefully researched book, Heidi Holland attempts to understand how someone upon whom so many had placed their hopes and dreams became a symbol for African kleptocracy. Holland traces Robert Mugabe's life as far as the information can take her, from Mugabe's home town and tight-lipped family to influential former colleagues in the rebellion whom Mugabe ultimately supplanted and who have their own agendas to Ian Smith and represents of the British government who underestimated or misundersto ...more
Elliot Ratzman
Jul 21, 2011 rated it liked it
Does the ego of dictators follow logic? None ever turn inward and blame himself for the violence and corruption of his regime but blames the media, saboteurs and enemies. How does one get to be a dictator? Do childhood experiences set the authoritarian personality? This book is a series of interviews: “This is Your Life, Zimbabwe dictator Robert Mugabe.” A nationalist activist who after being jailed for a decade is part of the leaders of a bush war against white rule in Rhodesia, Mugabe is initi ...more
I picked this book up from my local library after hearing of Mugabe's awful actions on the news. What better way to understand the man than through the words of those who know him the best?

I felt that Heidi Holland wrote this from a biased viewpoint. She thoroughly believes he is not as bad a person as the media makes him out to be, and tries to explain his actions away by using the classic psychological technique of going back to his childhood. Sure, he had some redeeming qualities, but that d
Jul 13, 2012 added it
Really think that this book was an attempt at psycho-analysis. The write had no close encounter with the man himself, so I find it hard to understand how she arrived at her conclusions. I was not impressed to say the least!
Ger Byrne
Mar 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant book!!
Igor Barbosa
Bit disappointed... The book is good but somewhat sluggish. expected more of history than talking of people.
Kevin Pedersen
Jun 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-tour
The book opens with a personal anecdote from the author, who remembers a meeting with Mugabe she had years before, when she was an idealistic liberal and he was a strong revolutionary leader. Perhaps it's this personal experience with Mugabe (of being duped by Mugabe, maybe?) that gives the author a real passion for the subject... she does not mince words as she recounts the failures and betrayals of Zimbabwe's leader over the years. There is an anger on the page here.

Mostly, the book is an atte
Dec 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Holland grew up in Rhodesia, and has first-hand experience of almost all the people involved in the story of how Robert Mugabe progressed from an obscure freedom fighter via a renowned revolutionary and respected statesman to the corrupt control-freak that was toppled in 2017.
The book was released in 2008, when he was at the peak of his power, and the country was was suffering the second worst case of hyperinflation ever encountered (much worse then the Weimar republic, and eclipsed only by the
Patricia Jäger
Aug 21, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: challenge-2018
I cannot really say that I enjoyed this book. Actually it made me cringe quite a lot. In my opinion the author often oversells her findings and the psychology she involved without providing justification for her conclusions. A lot of it seems a bit pulled out of a head, there are some contradictions in her conclusions and I feel a lot of it is overly simplified. I don't feel the complexity of human characters and political events is well represented. Although the amount of interviews and materia ...more
Emerson Grossmith
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Just reading this now. Started reading it about 2 months ago, but didn't like the intro, so I shuffled it to the bottom of my reading pile. Now with all the excitement in the past few weeks with Mugabe having surprisingly resigned out of the blue--I thought I would give it another chance. I find it quite insightful and she paints an interesting, if not complex or complicated, portrait of Robert Gabriel from his birth to statehood tyrant. His being fatherless has really come through and I think H ...more
Jun 23, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A different protective of Mugabe base on interviews with people who have known him and worked with him in different capacities. Not knowing much about his background or modern Zimbabwean history, this was a very worthwhile read. I thought the goal of trying to understand more about how makeup and mindset of Mugabe the man could lead to some enlightened, caring policies and others that have been disastrous and built on fear and hate, made for an interesting narrative and insights. I did find that ...more
Whitlaw Mugwiji
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very interesting read, although I do understand why some people were not impressed by this book. For me its important to hear directly from those who knew Mugabe personally, like Tekere, Vambe, Donato his brother, Mukonori and many others.

Robert Mugabe is a tyrant, he is a bad guy we all know that but the book with its psychoanalysis tries to hard to paint a picture of a bad guy. Some of the times, I do not agree with the psychoanalysis. To me, it seems as if its laced with eurocentric patern
Philip Girvan
Nov 06, 2017 rated it liked it
Holland does impressive work securing interviews with Mugabe himself, Ian Smith, Baron Carrington, and a host of others who played key roles in Mugabe's life or were involved in the creation and recognition of the Republic of Zimbabwe. The interviews are probing and very informative.

My beef with the book is its attempt to psychoanalyze Mugabe from a remove. It's speculative and amateurish, and, imho, diminishes the book considerably.

Nonetheless, a very interesting examination of a formidable per
Sarah Meharg
Jan 16, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting read in terms of the history of Mugabe and of Zimbabwe, and the reader can gain insights into Mugabe's personality from various interviews however in terms of a real psychological assessment the author can only guess at the impacts of the events in Mugabe's life and what makes him tick so I feel he is even more of a mystery by the end of the book as at the beginning.
Carey A Carpenter
Mar 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Excellent psychological portrait of the man himself. The author describes key life events that led to the Mugabe we know today. A great read for anyone wanting a good intro to the political situation in Zim.
Tom Magara
May 25, 2018 rated it liked it
I think the author had a good idea of showing a different side to Mugabe, but her biases were clear through the kind of questions she asked in her interviews and whose responses she did or did not doubt. In addition her psycho analysis was often quiet hard to follow or agree with.
Rosslee Jason
May 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
One of the very few accounts of Robert Mugabe that is fair. Highlights both sides of the man who ruled Zimbabwe for close to 40 years. I recommend this as the first book to pick up before any other Robert Mugabe read.
Nov 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
Very insightful and gives a softer look at this magnanimous individual. There are lot of rubbish Robert Mugabe books but this is not one at all.
Apr 06, 2019 rated it it was ok
Unfortunately, not very good. Could've been a magazine article instead of 250 pages.
Natasha Leite
Jun 12, 2017 rated it liked it
2.5 stars.

The author has an agenda and as much as she is honest about it, it felt too heavy handed.
Erick Njenga
Jul 01, 2017 rated it liked it
Good book,especially with the run down of the interview towards the end.
Felt a bit one dimensional esp with regards to Britain's effect on Mugabe.
Jill Lucas
Aug 29, 2017 rated it liked it
Fascinating - took me a very long time to get through the book..just due to the writers style.
No denying the content was worth reading though.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
In this book, Holland attempts to expose what really happened to Zimbabwe by embarking on an investigation of Mugabe as a person. Her goal is not to reveal the one main reason Mugabe went rogue or the biggest impact on him as a dictator. Further, the book is definitely not an attempt to excuse Mugabe’s behavior in any way as understanding does not equal condoning a behavior. Rather, her main purpose is to emphasize that the answer to the question “What went wrong?” is usually not a simple or a c ...more
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Heidi Holland was a South Africa–based Zimbabwean journalist and author who was involved in the journalism industry for over thirty years. She worked as a freelancer writer on such publications as The Sunday Times, The Telegraph, International Herald Tribune, The New York Times and The Guardian and has also worked on research projects for British television documentaries.