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.
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Published November 2, 2011
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