The Last King of Scotland

The Last King of Scotland

4.1 8
by Giles Foden, Mirron E. Willis, Mirron E. Willis
     
 

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Nicholas Garrigan has fled his native Scotland, and his parents' expectations, to take a position as a doctor in a remote rural outpost of Central Africa. Shortly after his arrival in Uganda, he is called to the scene of a bizarre car accident: Idi Amin, manically driving his red Maserati down the dirt tracks of Garrigan's small village, has run over a cow. Garrigan… See more details below

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Overview

Nicholas Garrigan has fled his native Scotland, and his parents' expectations, to take a position as a doctor in a remote rural outpost of Central Africa. Shortly after his arrival in Uganda, he is called to the scene of a bizarre car accident: Idi Amin, manically driving his red Maserati down the dirt tracks of Garrigan's small village, has run over a cow. Garrigan binds Amin's sprained wrist and puts the incident behind him, until a letter arrives from the Minister of Health informing him that Amin - in his obsession with all things Scottish - has appointed Garrigan his personal physician. Garrigan is instructed to settle into State House, on the grounds of Amin's residence, immediately. Later, Garrigan will reflect that had he known what awaited him, had he foreseen the terrifying concatenation of events this decision would set in motion, he would have boarded the first plane back to Scotland. He will wonder why it never occurred to him to simply say no. So begins Nick Garrigan's journey into a Conradian heart of darkness, as his own moral center battles weakly against, and then succumbs to, the dark and irresistible seductions of Idi Amin Dada, whose cruelty and cunning are masked by brilliant rhetoric, hilarious wit, and electrifying personal magnetism. When at last Nick awakens to the horrors of Amin's regime, he must awaken also to his own complicity in it - he cared for Amin, as a doctor and as a friend - and to the knowledge that he is both a traitor to his own country and a prisoner in his new one.

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Editorial Reviews

Evening Standard (London)
As convincing and terrifying a portrait of a capricious tyrant as any I have ever read. Foden captures with absolute fidelity the fascination of a figure like Amin: his charisma and physical presence, his charm, his savagery.
Times Literary Supplement
. . .[E]nergy and panache.
Scott
A.O.Genuinely beautiful and disturbing. . .A tale of nearly metaphysical evil, and the power of such evil to seduce and paralyze the weak.
Village Voice
Alexandra Lange
An affecting, chilling novel. — New York Magazine
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
A vivid journey to the turbulent heart of 1970s Uganda, British journalist Foden's bracing first novel chronicles the strange career of a fictional Scottish physician, Nicholas Garrigan, who serves as the personal doctor and occasional confidante of dictator Idi Amin. Having sequestered himself on a remote island in Scotland, Garrigan reflects, through a fog of self-deception and regret, on his stint as Amin's sidekick, from their first unlikely encounter after a back-road accident (Amin's red Masarati sideswipes a cow) to his installation in the capital as the ruler's house physician. Enjoying the perks of this position, Garrigan ponders an affair with the British ambassador's wife, tends to Amin's sometimes comical afflictions (in a memorable scene, he coaxes a burp from the dictator as if he were a giant infant) and even admits to a "sneaking affection" for him. Garrigan grows so detached from the gradually mounting atrocities of the regime that it takes a visit to the dictator's torture chambers and a harrowing trek across the wartorn countryside for him to glimpse the extent of his own complicity. Expertly weaving together Amin's life story (intertwined with Scottish history for reasons that remain rather vague, though the novel's title is a moniker Amin gave to himself), Foden writes with steely clarity and a sharp satirical edge, allowing serious questions to surface about the ethical boundaries of medicine and the crumbling Western influence in Africa. Garrison is the perfect foil for Amin, whose overwhelming physical presence, peacockish rhetoric and cold-blooded savagery are so well captured as to make this novel more than a mesmerizing read: it is also a forceful account of a surrealistic and especially ugly chapter of modern history. Agent, A.P. Watt. First serial to Granta. (Nov.) FYI: Foden has been an editor of the Times Literary Supplement.
Michael Upchurch
Amin's intimidating physical presence, whimsical tyranny and free-wheeling dementia are powerfully persuasive. -- The New York Times Book Review
A.O. Scott
Genuinely beautiful and disturbing. . .A tale of nearly metaphysical evil, and the power of such evil to seduce and paralyze the weak. -- The Village Voice
Alexandra Lange
An affecting, chilling novel. -- New York Magazine
The Spectator (London)
A wonderful read, beautifully written. . .gripping. . .drenched with a deep sense of Africa. . .a work of art.
Kirkus Reviews
A remarkable debut novel by British journalist Foden (The Guardian), who describes—in the best Conradian tones—an idealistic young physician's descent into the maelstrom of Idi Amin's Uganda. In a remote and wintry corner of Scotland, Dr. Nicholas Garrigan is trying to look back—through the snow piling up outside his window—on his days in the tropics. The son of a Scots Presbyterian minister, Nick grew up in the wee town of Fossiemuir and saw very little of the world beyond Edinburgh before passing his medical exams and accepting a post with the Ministry of Health that sent him to Uganda in the early '70s. This, then, 'is a story of various strange happenings in Central Africa, happenings which involved the author, Nicholas Garrigan, in a professional and private capacity.' And how: Nick landed in Uganda just as Idi Amin was transforming his Emperor Jones-style autocracy into a full-fledged reign of terror, and Nick not only survived the bloodletting but rose (through the typical succession of circumstantial flukes that controls these things) to become Amin's personal physician. From his place at the Emperor's right hand, he witnessed all the absurdities, barbarisms, and venalities symbolizing much of postcolonial Africa—tribal wars, the scapegoating of Asian 'profiteers,' palace intrigues, assassinations. There was one horror, though, that Nick couldn't be prepared for: he actually came to like Amin as a person. This affection makes for difficulties when, in the novel's foreground action, British operatives try to enlist him in a plot to poison the dictator: his refusal to take part in the scheme makes for even more trouble after Amin fallsfrom power and Nick must seek asylum in a Britain that now views him as an alien functionary. In the end, of course, Nick comes to see that he has been an alien from the start—a recognition that's little consolation but no minor achievement. Lurid and delightful, written with wit and real maturity.

From the Publisher
"Genuinely beautiful and disturbing." —The Village Voice"This decidedly quirky yet absorbing first novel—that brings to mind the diabolical Evelyn Waugh." —Los Angeles Times Book Review

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780786158904
Publisher:
Blackstone Audio, Inc.
Publication date:
11/15/2006
Edition description:
Unabridged, 10 CDs, 690 minutes
Pages:
10
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.40(d)

What People are saying about this

William Boyd
An audacious, shrewd and spirited first novel.
Redmond O'Hanlon
A major new talent.

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