Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Fear by Peter Godwin (Non-Fiction/Zimbabwe)

I am all settled in the new house.  Still awaiting bookshelf delivery and I've got too many books to make moving an easy task but the new house feels very homely already.  We're going to be spending the Easter holidays painting. 

Keeping me company during the move was an ARC copy of The Fear by Peter Godwin, which is about the recent elections in Zimbabwe and Mugabe's battle to impose his will on the voting public.  It was quite simply a wonderful book.  Godwin was born and raised in Africa and practised as a human rights lawyer in Zimbabwe before becoming a foreign news correspondent.  The Fear is part history, part politics, part travelogue and is written as Godwin travels the country as events unfold, talking to  Zimbabweans.

The name of the book comes from what Zimbabweans called the period between the two elections.  In the first Mugabe lost and before the second the ruling party used any method possible to 'convince' people the change their votes.  The Fear refers to the toture, random beatings and repression that came to anyone suspected of having voted for the opposition party.  There are some very harrowing stories of torture and rape contained in the book (for example, a man who had wire tied around his testicles and was led around by this wire) and Godwin doesn't shy away from the more horrible stories.

The courage of ordinary Zimbabweans really shines through.  Despite torture, most that Godwin talks to remain defiant and focused on their goal of change, no matter how Mugabe responds.  Godwin himself gets in quite a bit of danger throughout the book and is at one point forced to leave the country.  The technique of writing the book as a travelogue gives it immediacy, stops it from being too dry and makes it very relatable.  Even though I already knew the outcome of the crisis, I found myself swept up in the human side of it, the side that was missing from the news reports.

I would highly recommend this book as a good example of well written, readable non-fiction. 

Score: 5 out of 5
Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
Available now.


  1. Wow this sounds really interesting. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  2. Hope you do get a chance to read it Brenna, I really enjoyed this one :)

  3. that sounds intriguing definitely putting it on my TBR pile.

  4. Glad to see you back.

    Hope we get some pictures of the bookshelves!

  5. This sounds like a wonderful read. I'm putting it on my TBR list.

    On another note, I notice that whenever I move, the first thing I pack and then unpack is always my books. And I'm always surprised at how much they weigh!