The Fear

“Godwin's The Fear, a powerful--and often achingly personal--account of recent events in Zimbabwe, is a necessary book. I can't recommend it more highly to anyone seeking to understand the current, and historical, situation in this troubled, beautiful country.”

-- Peter Orner, author of The Second Coming of Mavala Shikongo

In mid 2008, after nearly three decades of increasingly tyrannical rule, Robert Mugabe, the 84-year-old Robespierre of Zimbabwe, lost an election. But instead of conceding power, he launched a brutal campaign of terror against his own citizens. Peter Godwin, author of the brilliant memoir When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, was one of the few outside observers to bear witness to the terrifying period that Zimbabweans call, simply, The Fear.

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At great personal risk, Godwin returns secretly to the country that was once his home. He visits the torture bases, the burning villages, the death squads, the opposition leaders in hiding, the last white farmers, the churchmen and diplomats putting their own lives on the line to stop the carnage. Threaded through with personal history, The Fear is the brave and astonishing record of a dictatorship gone mad. Accompanied by his sister Georgina, Godwin journeys through the ravaged, once-familiar landscape. They visit the grave of their sister, killed during the civil war. As they pour red “lucky bean” seeds from the coral tree in their old garden into the runnels of the letters on her gravestone, they call their mother, now living in exile in faraway London. ‘Where would you like to be buried when you die?’ he asks her. ‘At home,’ she says. ‘In Africa. Next to your father.’

Told with a brilliant eye for detail and Godwin’s natural storytelling gifts, this is a story framed by personal loss. But most deeply, it is a moving and stunning account of a people grotesquely altered, laid waste by a raging despot. It is about the astonishing courage and resilience of a people, armed with nothing but a desire to be free, who challenge a violent dictatorship. And in the spirit of Ryszard Kapu?ci?ski’s The Emperor, Godwin takes us inside the dysfunctional court of Robert Mugabe as he battles to stay in power even at the cost of destroying his country. THE FEAR is, finally, an important, brilliant testament to humanity’s ability to transcend fear, to rise up, even in the face of astounding adversity.

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Praise for The Fear ?

PETER GODWIN’S latest book is the most powerful indictment of Robert Mugabe’s regime yet written, marking out the author as one of the sharpest observers of modern Africa.

The Economist

“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, author of Swimming in a Sea of Death and A Bed for the Night: Humanitarianism in Crisis

“In the savage gangster world of Robert Mugabe’s Zimbabwe, Peter Godwin was able to go where other reporters cannot and tell us what others could not—because he is Zimbabwean, and knows what his country has been and could be. You don’t know whether to be more shocked by the monstrousness of the regime’s thugs or the luminous humanity of its opponents.”

-- James Traub, author of The Best Intentions: Kofi Annan and the UN in the Era of American World Power

“At last, a chronicle of the mess that is Zimbabwe. The Fear is an important book detailing the violent realities, the grotesque injustices, the hunger, the sadness, and a portrait of Mugabe, the tyrant who is the cause of it all. It is especially valuable because Godwin, born in Zimbabwe, is passionate and personal, as well as bold in his travel and scrupulous in his documentation.”

-- Paul Theroux, author of Ghost Train to the Eastern Star

“There is nothing on the subject of Robert Mugabe's terror state that comes even close to Peter Godwin's brilliant account. It took great courage to pursue this horror at close range, as Godwin did. This book will change utterly readers' perceptions of what is happening in this afflicted corner of Africa.”

-- Norman Rush, author of Mating and Mortals equally gripping, gut-wrenching report from this nation in terrible decline

-- The Very Short List

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