Idi Amin: The Story of Africa's Icon of Evil

Idi Amin: The Story of Africa's Icon of Evil

by Mark Leopold


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The first serious full-length biography of modern Africa’s most famous dictator

“Sharply written, forensically researched. . . . A meticulous re-examination of Amin’s life, producing a narrative packed with original evidence, and one that strives at all times to be scrupulously well balanced. ”—Paul Kenyon, The Sunday Times, London

Idi Amin began his career in the British army in colonial Uganda, and worked his way up the ranks before seizing power in a British-backed coup in 1971. He built a violent and unstable dictatorship, ruthlessly eliminating perceived enemies and expelling Uganda’s Asian population as the country plunged into social and economic chaos.

In this powerful and provocative new account, Mark Leopold places Amin’s military background and close relationship with the British state at the heart of the story. He traces the interwoven development of Amin’s career and his popular image as an almost supernaturally evil monster, demonstrating the impossibility of fully distinguishing the truth from the many myths surrounding the dictator. Using an innovative biographical approach, Leopold reveals how Amin was, from birth, deeply rooted in the history of British colonial rule, how his rise was a legacy of imperialism, and how his monstrous image was created.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780300154399
Publisher: Yale University Press
Publication date: 01/05/2021
Pages: 368
Sales rank: 392,599
Product dimensions: 6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x (d)

About the Author

Mark Leopold is lecturer in social anthropology at the University of Sussex.  His research in Idi Amin’s home area led to the book Inside West Nile, chosen as an "outstanding academic title of 2005" by the American Library Association.

Table of Contents

List of Plates vi

Preface viii

Map xiv

Introduction: Idi Amin Dada, Man and Myth 1

1 'Wrung from the Withers of the Western Nile': Background, Birth and Youth, 1928(?)-46 24

2 'He Comes from a Fighting Race': Life in the King's African Rifles, 1946(?)-59 55

3 A Resistible Rise? 1959-65 91

4 Amin and Obote, 1965-69 125

5 'Martial Music': The Build-up, the Coup and the Aftermath, 1969-71 163

6 A Honeymoon and Four Divorces: The First Two Years of Uganda's Second Republic, 1971-73 202

7 The Centre Cannot Hold: President Amin, 1973-76 239

8 Decline and Fall: Idi Amin and Uganda, 1977-79, and After 276

Afterword 310

Notes 315

References 337

Index 345

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