The personality of Robert Mugabe

I have remarked before that Robert Mugabe was one of the best orators I have ever heard. I am not alone in having been impressed. Below is an assessment of Mugabe’s oratory and personality, by Zimbabwean journalist Jan Raath, published in The Times (London), 12 November 2017, under the headline, “Forty years ago, I too was beguiled by Robert Mugabe, the young guerrilla leader”.

I will treasure the events of yesterday afternoon for the rest of my life. I had driven to the Harare international conference centre to hear a rather dry debate on the impeachment of Robert Mugabe, the man I have been covering for this newspaper since 1975.
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Recent Reading 20

The latest in a sequence of lists of recently-read books, listed in reverse chronological order.

  • Stanley Wells [2023]: What Was Shakespeare Really Like? CUP.
  • Laura Cumming [2023]: Thunderclap: A memoir of Art and Life & sudden Death. Vintage Digital.
  • Rory Stewart [2023]:Politics On the Edge. Vintage Digital. This is a very well-written memoir of Stewart’s decade in British politics. I met the author during his first election campaign (see my report here), and my impression of him was that he was completely lacking in side. What you saw or heard, was exactly what he was. I wondered then whether someone so up-and-down straight could succeed in a profession often requiring the saying of different things to different audiences. It is telling that before his election, the only politician Stewart says that he had met and admired was David Milliband, who strikes me as similarly straight up-and-down.

    In some respects, this book is a record of The Getting of Guile, as he learns how best to manage and manipulate the British civil service, and, and perhaps less successfully so far, British politics. His departure from elected public life is our great loss, and it does not behoove us. I hope he returns.

  • Michael Frayn [2023]: Among Others: Friendships and Encounters. Faber and Faber. Well-written and sometimes moving vignetts of people Frayn has known in his life. Wished these were longer and there were more of them. The book would have been much better if the last one, with an extended metaphor in poor taste of a human body as a skyscraper, had been deleted.
  • Allen Welsh Dulles [1947]: Germany’s Underground: The Anti-Nazi Resistance. Da Capo Press. This account is mostly compelling, although marred by the inclusion of entire documents in the main text, instead of selective quotations from them. Dulles was an active participant, when working for the OSS in Bern, Switzerland from November 1942, in various anti-Nazi activities, and collected documents and information as he worked. He was the grandson, nephew and (later) the brother of Secretaries of State.
  • Martin Peretz [2023]: The Controversialist: Arguments with Everyone, Left Right and Center. Wicked Son. (HT: AS)
  • Bruce Beresford [2010]: Josh Hartnett Definitely Wants to Do This … True Stories from a Life in the Screen Trade. 4th Estate. An interesting account of just a few years in the life as Australian film director. Many names are casually dropped, but that may be simply because Beresford has been around a long time and seems to have known everybody born in the 1940s. And it is not often one comes across the name Takemitsu; Beresford is a lover of classical music.
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