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Douglas Rogers is Associate Professor of Anthropology at Yale University. He is the author of the Old Faith and the Russian Land. A Historical Ethnography of Ethics in the Urals, also from Cornell.

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For whatever reason, this was not the book I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to encompass more of a travel angle using Zimbabwe as the backdrop and Drifters Backpacker Lodge as the setting, but those ended up being the central characters of a Shakespearean tragedy instead.

This story is a narrative of one family's struggles as well as one nations struggles pitted against that same nation. And a sad story it is. If you love depressing, then here is your book!

Unlike the reviews I looked at prior to picking up a copy, I failed to see much humor in the painful economic collapse of Zimbabwe. The domination of the powerful over the weak is another subject that I am not entirely enamored with. Sure, there was much to chuckle at but overall everything else was too sobering for it to last more than half a second or so. Or you could say, yeah sure, I too make light of life when reality is purely hellish.

Anyway, this is a well-documented tale of a chunk of time in Zimbabwe's history, roughly the years 2000-2008. The chaos and injustice is mind-boggling as is the stupidity of the leadership whose designs contrived the chaos and injustices. (We see much of the same thing happening today in the United States.)

I essentially had a hard time reading it. I thought it would be a fun read, and while a good book I found myself disappointed, there wasn't much to enjoy.

I probably shouldn't knock it as much as I am because the memoir is well told from all sides; from the author who is a native Zimbabwean but now more-or-less an outsider to all the insiders who were combatants on all sides during the long, long war for independence. Zimbabwe is unique in that all of the proxy wars brought about by the Cold War, theirs is the only war won backed by China and not by the US or Russia. By default then, Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe have been labelled "Communists," but if they had been backed by the US in the struggle then they would have been labeled a puppet government of Uncle Sam. It's that simple.

Tangential, but a decade or so before this story starts I was held up at a land border crossing trying to get into Zimbabwe. There were 6 of us, but I was the only one hassled at immigration and prevented from crossing. It had happened to me before when traveling, it's your unlucky day and you encounter the one subhuman with just enough power to hold sway. It doesn't matter what the rules or regulations or policies are, but in a corrupt system any single person can use what little power they have to make others' lives difficult. I used to call it being a third world authority figure, but we've seen that more and more in the new millennium with the US military and US police forces so that's an unfair designation. In any case, I was in a no man's land. But fortuitously one person in our group happened to know someone in that border town, on the Zimbabwe side. Calls were made, a bank bond was issued to immigration (like I might abscond or stay in Zimbabwe for the rest of my life!!!), I managed to cross the border, a morning or half a day was wasted, and then later we all sat down for some beers. Part of that whole story is that this guy's parents were attacked and killed during the war... and now he was back farming to feed Zimbabwe. I can only presume that his farm was taken during the land invasions outlined in Rogers' book.

Zimbabwe, a tragedy. The Last Resort, a tragedy. Tragic all around...

Oh, I almost forgot. I was going to rate this as 3-1/2 stars, but gave Douglas Rogers the benefit of the doubt. The other problem with the book is that it ended before the story ended. I guess after 5 years or whatever it was time to wrap it up and call it finished. But the story was not finished so it ended quite abruptly. The big story was Zimbabwe and its economic collapse, but told through the Rogers family there was more to that story that never got told, almost mid-sentence... "the end." It wasn't the best ending, let's put it that way.
… (mere)
Picathartes | 13 andre anmeldelser | Aug 12, 2021 |
nonfiction; memoir of living in Zimbabwe in 2000-2008.

Well, at least I don't live in this period of Zimbabwe's instability.
reader1009 | 13 andre anmeldelser | Jul 3, 2021 |
Quite a few white Zimbabweans have published memoirs and commentaries in the last few years. Many, like Rogers, are no longer living their, but experience it through their parents and their childhood friends. What makes Rogers' book stand out, in my opinion, is his journalist's understanding of the importance of objective facts and research to examine the compelling stories of white and black Zimbabweans, and his balanced and nuanced attention to the current political situation. This is not a "golden times" reminiscence, nor is it a white liberal guilt fest. It is an intelligent examination laced with humor and vivid description. Rogers doesn't sugarcoat his own feelings or reactions, which makes me empathize with him and trust him as an observer.… (mere)
kaitanya64 | 13 andre anmeldelser | Jan 3, 2017 |
The news is Zimbabwe kills white farmers and has ludicrous inflation rates. Mugabe is a basket case horror show of mismanagement. This memoir by Douglas Rogers, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe the son of white farmers provides a more nuanced, and occasionally humorous view. After school. Rogers left the country for the big cities of London and New York, anywhere but the rural farm of his upbringing. But his pioneering parents stayed, anything but give up the farm. This is their story as told by Rogers who came back to visit on occasion. His writing is like breath, hardly noticeable and inhaled in effortless speed, a model of clear and interesting prose. The story-arc is genuine, as the country falls apart his parents find increasingly sketchy ways to keep the farm out of the hands of the government/bandits. Curious people fill the pages, Zimbabwe is a land of weird going on not unlike the Mississippi Delta (see Richard Grant's magnificent Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta). This is a gem of book.… (mere)
Stbalbach | 13 andre anmeldelser | May 31, 2016 |


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