Friday, 25 January 2013

THE LAST KING OF SCOTLAND – Giles Foden, 1998

‘Now a major film, it says on the front of my paperback copy. I implore you if you love this book do not expect the film to live up to it. Oh yes, you would think it should. Forest Whitaker has gongs upon gongs and he does, while looking nothing like Amin, give a very xxx portrait of the great dictator. But… if you have read the book you do not need the film. I was so disappointed with the liberties it took and the unnecessary revisions it made. This is a great book. It keeps you enthralled from start to finish and teaches you a little bit more about the mess of the African legacy. How could so many people make so many mistakes? There is a reason why power should be in the hands of the moderate and Amin is a perfect illustration of that reason.
Foden’s novel, told through the eyes of a young doctor, uses an age-old technique but uses it well. We see the scales fall from the eyes of the naïve narrator and are, therefore, gradually made aware ourselves of the unpleasant and unacceptable layers of corruption beneath the veneer of a leader who claims a popular majority but ensures his ‘popularity’ by violence and the degradation of the country he has been entrusted to protect.

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