MugabeIn this sober biography of one of Africa’s longest-serving presidents, Onslow and Plaut provide a brief but comprehensive overview of a controversial leader who’s largely reviled in the West but often revered in Africa.

The book traces Robert Mugabe’s evolution from freedom fighter in the 1960s and 1970s—including his leadership in the Zimbabwe African National Union, one of two main liberation movements fighting the white minority regime in Rhodesia—to his succession as prime minister at independence in 1980 and, later, president.

The authors don’t shy away from discussing his worst choices—including the brutal suppression of 1980s opposition movement Zimbabwe African People’s Union; the harassment and intimidation of members of the Movement for Democratic Change party during the 2002, 2008, and 2013 elections; the disastrous intervention in the Second Congo War from 1998 to 2003, at a cost to the country of one billion dollars and many lives; and the Fast Track Land Reform program, the state-sanctioned violent acquisition of white-owned farms by supposed war veterans (many of whom were unemployed urban youths too young to have actually fought)—but don’t vilify him.

Written in lucid prose, the informative book is commendable for its balanced assessment of 37 years’ worth of very tumultuous events. (April.)

Ohio University Press. $14.95 trade paper (208p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2324-0

Reviewed on 04/06/2018 | Release date: 03/01/2018 | Details & Permalink