The Fear: The Last Days of Robert Mugabe, by Peter Godwin, Picador RRP£18.99, 320 pages
After Zimbabwe’s presidential election in March 2008, it appeared Robert Mugabe’s long, brutal reign was coming to an end. But despite losing the vote to Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the Movement for Democratic Change, Mugabe refused to concede power, announcing a run-off election from which, amid escalating violence against MDC supporters, his opponent was forced to withdraw.
Zimbabwe-born journalist Peter Godwin surreptitiously entered the country to document the crackdown, during a period known simply as “the fear”. He travelled widely, interviewing senior MDC members and visiting hospitals and prisons to meet the victims of Mugabe’s thugs and returned in 2009, after a “power-sharing” deal was signed to find that little had changed.
Godwin’s book is a brave, sensitive and observant account of Zimbabwe’s tragedy, exposing the cruelty of Mugabe’s regime and the remarkable courage of those who have defied it.