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The Last Resort: A Memoir of Zimbabwe

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,309 Ratings  ·  230 Reviews
Thrilling, heartbreaking, and, at times, absurdly funny, The Last Resort is a remarkable true story about one family in a country under siege and a testament to the love, perseverance, and resilience of the human spirit.

Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country’s long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Crown (first published January 1st 2009)
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Petra Eggs
The truth is often more harrowing than anything written as fiction, because fiction necessarily has to have a plot and work to a conclusion and in order to maintain tension (and not to bore the reader) the minutae of a long-drawn out horrific experience cannot be written.

This book is about the recent modern times in rural Zimbabwe for whites in business in a small way. These whites have seen that Mugabe did good things - he was a teacher and brought literacy to the blacks freed from the appalli
May 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m of the opinion that most Americans, even those that consider themselves somewhat knowledgeable about current events and well-read, know very little about modern sub-Saharan Africa. Most of us are aware of the continent’s subjugation to colonial rule and that revolutionary changes have taken place there in recent decades but the sub-division of territories and mélange of unpronounceable names and ever changing leaders seldom moves us below the headlines. The fact that many whites may have los ...more
Dec 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Zimbabwe is an excellent example of what happens when a group of countries stick their collective nose in another nation's affairs. Back in the day the breakaway state of Rhodesia was a flawed but functioning entity. It's true that there was an uneven distribution of wealth, with whites generally more wealthy than blacks, but this would not not have been a permanent state. The western press naturally had to sensationalize the situation, because that's how you get subscribers...there is no money ...more
Mar 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Back in 1998, I hired a guy to build a road onto a 40-acre plot I owned in Eastern Washington. He was a fascinating fellow. He and his wife were saving to buy more land in Zimbabwe, a place they loved. I was shocked. Having spent some rather gnarly years in Jamaica during white flight, and benefiting from what something similar did to real estate prices in the Virgin Islands, I was rather dubious. But he assured me that Zimbabwe was very friendly towards white land owners. He and his wife were c ...more
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it

To know now that I knew so little about Zimbabwe is nothing short of shameful. To know now that Mugabe still rules there, a decade after this true tale was written, is alarming. Westerners hear what they are sold and we can go on about Syria, Venezuela, N. Korea, Yemen and other hotspots that make the news.

But that Zimbabwe still exists as it did, and is still subjugated to Mugabe as it has been for so long, is further proof that good and evil coexist and it will always be this way. W
Jan 24, 2010 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: post-soviet absurdist novel fans, anyone who thought Hotel Rwanda would've worked better as a comedy
Recommended to Angela by: nytimes review
The Last Resort is a whirlwind tour through eight years of Zimbabwe's descent from forced evictions of white farmers into the election chaos of 2008. The author visits his parents each year as they adapt to a changing country and struggle to hold onto their small backpacker hotel, Drifter's Inn, in the countryside. Their white farmer neighbors have been kicked out of their homes (some eventually taking refuge at the Inn's cabins), tourism has dried up, and Drifter's is inadvertently reimagined a ...more
Quite a few books have been written in recent years by exiled children of white Zimbabweans. Many if not all, whether they claim to be autobiographical or not are heavily influence by the feelings of the writer about his lost home country and what is happening there. Some find it impossible to jump over the shadow of bitterness to even attempt a balanced view. That is definitely not the case here. I'm not going to repeat the blurb or the descriptions of many others what this book is about. It's ...more
Oct 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Dramatic and real accounting of the decline of Zimbabwe and the tenacity of the Rogers, white farmers who struggle to hold on to their home. The story is told through their son, Douglas Rogers, who grew up in Zimbabwe. If you have read and enjoyed Peter Godwin's story of growing up in Zimbabwe in the book "Mukiwa" and then the bittersweet story of seeing the country his grew up in and love fall about in the book "When the Crocodile Ate the Son", also by Peter Godwin, you will also enjoy "The Las ...more
Jan 17, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I came across this book while reading the New Yorker's Book Bench blog and after reading the interview with the author I couldn't resist, though I can't say I had much interest or knowledge about Zimbabwe.

This book blew me away. I learned so much about the history and culture of Zimbabwe, while being kept on the edge of my seat. To make a long story short, the dictator of Zimbabwe, in an attempt to hide his own incompetence on his country's economic problems decides that the white minority in Zi
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This is an excellent book about extraordinary people living through unbelievable times in Zimbabwe. Over the last few years I have read a number of novels set in that country in the post independence period which have been deeply moving in their depiction of the evolution of that country and the effect on the lives of its people; but none of them delivered their story with the power of this one.
It is well written in a journalistic style as opposed to a literary one, which is not meant to demean
From BBC radio 4 - Book of the Week:
The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers read by Jack Klaff. Abridged and produced by Jane Marshall Productions. The author tells the story of his parents fight to stay on their backpacker lodge in Zimbabwe despite the political upheaval of the last decade. When he hears the news of the death of the first white farmer, Rogers is concerned for his parents safety but when he returns home to visit them, nothing has prepared him for what he finds.
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Riveting. Only wish I had read it before my visit to Zimbabwe, so that I could have discussed some of the content with the friends I met there. It has only fueled my interest to learn more.
Avril Vandermerwe
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
An eye-opening account of life in Zimbabwe under Mugabe's government.
Pramudith Rupasinghe
Wonderful book, I loved it
Jun 26, 2013 rated it really liked it
Douglas Rogers begins his tale, “The Last Resort,” with one of the first white farm land invasion in Zimbabwe in April 2000, and begins to take readers through the ups and (mostly) downs of the country, including the fight for his parents’ land and survival. Throughout the book, readers learn of the repressive actions taken by the government and the innovative ways in which Zimbabweans deal with them. The Rogers’s resort, Drifters, develops into an informal brothel, Mr. Rogers begins to plant ma ...more
Leo Passaportis
Oct 19, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A great read. I was 'privileged' enough to have lived through most of the period encompassed by Roger's memoir in Zimbabwe, albeit mainly in Harare. Most of the narrative takes place in vicinity of Mutare which is quite some way off but the politics was national and the problems of hyperinflation and the attendant ills were unavoidable wherever one lived.

One thing that will be evident to anyone who has read this book is that many people, white and black, were disenfranchised by the policies of t
I've always been fascinated by Africa, especially after I spent a month in Kenya on a mission trip with my church in 1996. We here in America will sometimes complain about our lives, but it's nothing compared to the poverty I saw while in Kenya. Not even Nairobi is spared; electricity in the capital city is never a guarantee. But at least it's somewhat stable, unlike Zimbabwe, Rogers's home country.

When most people think of Africa, we think of white colonists coming over and carving the continen
May 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Douglas Rogers's memoir is brilliant, moving, and hilarious--the story of his parents' struggle to hold onto their game lodge and farm in eastern Zimbabwe as the country spirals out of control following President Mugabe's disastrous farm seizure policy that has uprooted both black and white farmers since 2000. Rogers's parents turn their backpacker lodge into a haven for homeless farmers, most of whom are older white women, including a liberal aristocratic woman who held the best parties in the ...more
Jun 22, 2009 rated it liked it
This memoir started slowly for me. I got distracted by the lengthy passages of dialogue framed in quotes. I kept thinking, "Is that REALLY what that person said?"

But several friends really liked this book, so I stuck with it and -- sure enough -- the absurdity and brutality that makes for 21st century Zimbabwe swept me up. I finished the book today in a big gulp and am now dying to know what happens to Douglas Rogers' parents. (Random House, please include an update!) It's a fleshed-out read ab
Sep 17, 2015 rated it really liked it
The story of a married older couple of white Zimbabweans, the Rogers, who owns a tourist resort, restaurant and bar. Of course the horrible Robert Robert Mugabe is president and runs a mafia type government, responsible for much violence and killing, snatching property from white Zimbabweans all over the country by proclamation, without any rule of law or legal process. The Rogers' son is a journalist who writes their story of endurance, trying to keep their property in the face of serious threa ...more
Cori McGraw
Jan 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
If you enjoyed Alexandra Fuller's memoirs of growing up in Africa, so too will you enjoy The Last Resort, which is in the same vein.

I adored this portrait of life in a country where instability has been the norm and adaptation has been the key to survival. It was witty, frightening, and heartening.

Incredibly well-written. This book is one of my favorite reads, and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in seeing what life is like in Zimbabwe.
Apr 12, 2010 rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: BBC4 listeners
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
great family story of zimbabwe, folks who own the Drifters lodge. zim is increadibly screwed up (20,000% inflation, elections marred by murder and beatings, out-of-control govt graft, starvation, etc...) what makes this a great read are the characters we get to know. good job by a white zim, who finally sees the black side too. its sad though.
this is a good update to alexandra fuller's 2 memoirs of zim up to 1980's. it hasn't gotten any better. nice going usa.
Apr 06, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very good book. Recommended to anyone interested in Zimbabwe's current affairs and the real life of its habitants, seen through the point of view of a Zimbabwean expat that loves his country, but it is not blinded by a nostalgic memory of the old times.
Apr 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I wasn't so sure when I started reading this ... but I really enjoyed it and found it a fascinating read. I'd recommend it.
Roberta Kruse
Jun 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Took me back to Africa - great read!
Bree T
Jan 17, 2012 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Douglas Rogers was born in Zimbabwe back when it wasn’t even Zimbabwe. His family owned a chicken farm, a grape farm and then sold up and bought a piece of land and established a backpackers and tourist lodge. Douglas left Zimbabwe to go to University in South Africa and then traveled to England and then America to live. He made periodic visits home to see his parents but his pilgrimages really stepped up when the country began to go downhill under the iron grip of Robert Mugabe. In the late 199 ...more
Aug 23, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
Douglas was born and raised in Zimbabwe but "escaped" the farming life by traveling- and writing about the world. His parents own "Drifters" - a famous backpacking lodge. It is the year 2000. Mugabe is Zimbabwe's president who launches a violent program to reclaim white-owned land. Farmers are given hours to move out of their houses, give up their livestock and land. They are given no choice by the soldiers under Mugabe's orders. Some reluctant to move, are killed. The violence is nearing Dougla ...more
May 10, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoirs
Based on my interests and reading preferences, I'm surprised I didn't enjoy this book as much as I was hoping to. I do love a memoir. However, I think there was a little bit of a disconnect for me because it was more of a memoir by-proxy. Rogers tells the story of his parents' farm in Zimbabwe, but he was only there intermittently over the years. I think I would have enjoyed this much more if this same story had been told by his parents, who lived on the farm all those years.

It was still an inte
Paula Rothman
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Paula Rothman The tongue-in-cheek frog and title and the writing itself lull the reader into a state of hopefulness. Contemporary history has shown that Africa willl be forced, by it’s own internal wealth and the avarice of more “developed” countries and the Have-Nots who were throttled by those same countries for centuries, to be drowned in it’s own syrup. A journalist for Western (UK & US) news orgs., Doug Rogers is bemused by the path his native country flounders down under the Mugabe adm ...more
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“There were lots of ways to lose your farm. In the beginning it was mostly violent. Now, though, the process had become highly formal, and in many ways more chilling. Ordinary citizens who supported the ruling party and claimed they wanted to farm simply applied to the Registrar of Deeds for a farm and, if approved, got what was called an offer letter. This applicant, known as an A2 farmer, simply drove onto the farm he had been allocated, handed his letter to the farmer if he was still on the land, and told him he was the new owner. “It’s like winning the lottery, except you don’t even have to buy a ticket,” Dad told me.” 1 likes
“Hundreds of thousands of Zimbabweans had starved to death or died of disease under Robert Mugabe; the more incredible story was how so many millions managed to survive. They refused to become victims.” 1 likes
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