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THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

Foden, Giles

3,223 ratings by Goodreads
ISBN 10: 0375403604 / ISBN 13: 9780375403606
Published by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY, U.S.A., 1998
Condition: Fine Hardcover
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Combining elements of the thriller noir with comedy, this novel is based on the macabre events of Idi Amin's regime, "The Last King of Scotland" being one of the many titles which the tyrant bestowed on himself. It is also about a young Scottish doctor who becomes involved in Amin's administration. Forest Whitaker won 23 awards (including the Oscar for Best Actor) for his galvanic performance as the Idi Amin in the movie based on this book. Fine, in fine, mylar-protected dust jacket. L65. Bookseller Inventory # 18979

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Bibliographic Details

Title: THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND

Publisher: Alfred A. Knopf, Inc., New York, NY, U.S.A.

Publication Date: 1998

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: First American Edition

About this title

Synopsis:

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 ap-pointed 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. But--flattered, disarmed, and intrigued, if uneasily, by the pros-pect of entering Amin's inner circle--he steps into the role of caring for the man who will turn out to be one of the most brutal dictators of all time.  

So begins Nick Garrigan's journey into a Con-radian 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. By turns comic and chilling, Giles Foden's The Last King of Scotland is a masterful debut from a remarkable talent--a riveting history of "blood, misery and foolishness" that lingers in the mind long after the last page is turned, and a profound meditation on conscience, charisma, and the slow corruption of the human heart.

Review:

No, we're not talking Bonnie Prince Charlie here. The title character of Giles Foden's debut novel, The Last King of Scotland, is none other than Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda. Told from the viewpoint of Nicholas Garrigan, Amin's personal physician, the novel chronicles the hell that was Uganda in the 1970s. Garrigan, the only son of a Scots Presbyterian minister, finds himself far away from Fossiemuir when he accepts a post with the Ministry of Health in Uganda. His arrival in Kampala coincides with the coup that leads to President Obote's overthrow and Idi Amin Dada's ascendancy to power. Garrigan spends only a few days in the capital city, however, before heading out to his assignment in the bush. But a freak traffic accident involving Amin's sports car and a cow eventually brings the good doctor into the dictator's orbit; a few months later, Garrigan is recalled from his rural hospital and named personal physician to the president. Soon enough, Garrigan finds himself caught between his duty to his patient and growing pressure from his own government to help them control Amin.

From Nicholas Garrigan's catbird seat, Foden guides us through the horrors of Amin's Uganda. It would be simple enough to make the dictator merely monstrous, but Foden defies expectation, rendering him appealing even as he terrifies. The doctor "couldn't help feeling awed by the sheer size of him and the way, even in those unelevated circumstances, he radiated a barely restrained energy.... I felt--far from being the healer--that some kind of elemental force was seeping into me." And Garrigan makes a fine stand-in for Conrad's Marlow as he travels up a river of blood from naiveté to horrified recognition of his own complicity. As if this weren't enough, Foden also treats us to a finely drawn portrait of Africa in all its natural, political, and social complexity. The Last King of Scotland makes for dark but compelling reading. --Alix Wilber

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