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WHEN A CROCODILE EATS THE SUN by Peter Godwin Kirkus Star


An African Memoir

by Peter Godwin

Pub Date: April 17th, 2007
ISBN: 0-316-15894-1
Publisher: Little, Brown

Zimbabwe’s disintegration in the hands of ruthless dictator Robert Mugabe, recounted in careful, beautifully crafted prose by a journalist born and raised there.

Godwin’s powerful story combines vivid travelogue, heart-wrenching family saga and harrowing political intrigue. Mugabe’s pillaging of Zimbabwe is a crime still grossly underreported by the international press and largely ignored by the world community. It is all the more harrowing when seen through the lens of its impact on the lives of Godwin’s intrepid parents, an engineer and physician who came to Rhodesia as newlyweds. Hardly the stereotypical colonial exploiters, George and Helen Godwin helped build and nurture the country; they even applauded many of the changes that overthrew white rule and saw Zimbabwe’s transformation in 1980 into a black-governed land. But in February 2000, barbaric forces were set loose by Mugabe, a mass-murderer still viewed by many Africans as a liberator. Gangs of gun-toting looters, encouraged by Mugabe and his henchmen, plunged the country into anarchy. White-owned farms were “repossessed” by thugs who cared little about growing crops. Businesses were ransacked, often by the corrupt police force. The fragile economy was destroyed while millions starved. Hundreds of white families and black members of the political opposition were murdered in their homes. Like many of his compatriots, the author left Zimbabwe, becoming a journalist and documentary filmmaker first in England and later in America. But he returned home regularly to visit his aging, increasingly isolated and anxious parents, whose friends were steadily being killed or forced to flee. Despite Africa’s numbing violence and despair, Godwin (Mukiwa, 1996, etc.) never loses sight of the natural beauty and native spirit that drew his parents there in the first place.

A haunting story.