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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

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  1,524 Ratings  ·  193 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 2011)
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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
Mar 24, 2013 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 03, 2014 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
Mar 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Peter Godwin, a white Zimbabwean, is a very talented writer. This book recalls his visits home in the aftermath of Robert Mugabe's stunning defeat by the MDC candidate in 2008. Refusing to cede power, Mugabe and his loyal followers launched a campaign to kill and torture their opponents. Since becoming Prime Minister in 1980 and President in 1987, Mugabe has destroyed the economy (by stealing or "jambanja'ing" farms), education (previously 92% literacy, highest in Africa), and culture. This book ...more
Rohit Enghakat
Aug 25, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Till I bought this book, my knowledge of Zimbabwe was limited to the fact that it had a national cricket team, one among the twelve cricket playing nations in the world. A legacy left by the British as it did to other colonial nations. The moment I started reading the book, it was so depressing that many a time I wanted to quit reading it midway. This is a horrible account of the reign of terror unleashed by Robert Mugabe regime in Zimbabwe.

This a first hand account of the human rights violatio
Apr 05, 2014 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
Peter Godwin
Jan 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  (Review from the author)  ·  review of another edition
May 17, 2012 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?
Sep 16, 2017 rated it liked it
In 2008, there was a “democratic” election in Zimbabwe, which apparently defeated its long-time leader/dictator, Robert Mugabe. Mugabe, however, wouldn’t accept it, so while there was to be a re-vote, Mugabe’s people hunted down and tortured and/or murdered people known to be voting against him. The (white) author, who had been born in Zimbabwe, and was now a journalist elsewhere, decided to head back and talked to Zimbabwean people to bear witness.

The book followed the author as he travelled a
May 20, 2011 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,
Apr 22, 2011 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 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
Jul 28, 2012 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
Jul 31, 2012 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
Mar 30, 2011 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
Mar 12, 2011 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.
Apr 01, 2011 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.
Horrific view of the atrocities done to the Zimbabwean people, the whims of a tyrant, and the psychology of non-violent resistance. Terrifying, and necessary.
Jul 28, 2015 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."
Apr 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Książka jest okropna - jej zawartość jest straszna, przerażająca, nieludzka i (niestety) nie jest fikcją literacką, a przy tym (co aż źle brzmi w tym przypadku) czyta się ją naprawdę dobrze. Jest napisana w sposób, który jednocześnie wciąga i odpycha, informacje są tak dawkowane, że choć wszystko boli jak się je czyta, to zapewniają też chwilę (zwodniczego) wytchnienia, dzięki czemu (a może raczej - przez co) książka wciąga i niemal nie daje się odstawić na półkę.
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
Sep 28, 2011 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
Feb 21, 2012 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
Dec 03, 2012 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
Jul 28, 2014 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
Patrick Carroll
Feb 26, 2013 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
Feb 28, 2013 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
Oct 13, 2011 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 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 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.

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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