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Sympathy for the devil

Heidi Holland's biography of Robert Mugabe does something deeply unsettling—it makes me feel the dictator's pain

By Tom De Castella   July 2008

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Dinner with Mugabe by Heidi Holland (Penguin, £17.99)

The aim of Heidi Holland’s biography of Robert Mugabe is to humanise the monster so that we can understand the “three-dimensional Mugabe instead of a cartoon villain.” That doesn’t look like such a bright idea in the context of another brutal election campaign in which the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) has been murdered, raped and tortured into submission.

Mugabe claims he has been appointed by God and can only be removed by God. In reality, the people preventing Mugabe’s exit are a junta of…

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