In The Last King of Scotland, Foden's Amin is as ridiculous as he is abhorrent: a self-proclaimed cannibal who, at the end of his eight years in power, would be responsible for 300,000 deaths. As Garrigan awakens to his patient's barbarism and his own complicity in it, we enter a venturesome meditation on conscience, charisma, and the slow corruption of the human heart.
©1998 Giles Foden; (P)2006 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"An affecting, chilling historical novel." (New York)
"Lurid and delightful, written with wit and real maturity." (Kirkus Reviews)
"A sobering reality check and an impressive work of fiction." (Washington Times)
A sometimes interesting story (although not frequently enough), in parts well written, but a significant audio challenge because a) the story often lapses into long stretches of narrative that are about as interesting as a technical manual but less artfully composed and b) the most interesting character, Amin, only makes intermittent appearances, while the least compelling character is the always present narrator. So how well has the producer responded to the challenge? Not at all--a complete and utter failure. The first mistake was the decision to try having all the characters read in accent. The second and most profound mistake was hiring an actor for the reading who is incapable of doing accents. Listening to this narration and ALL of the wrong notes struck by the reader would be like sitting through a 12 hour opera peformed entirely off key. You would want to puncture your own ear drums. Seriously, how could the producer have listened to the first 10 minutes of this narration and decided to continue on with this reader? The only thing that makes Mr. Willis's horribly wrong Scottish accent bearable is the fact that you are being spared from hearing him butcher a Ugandan, or worst of all, Israeli, accent. Adding insult to insult are the pathetic production standards that subject you to the narrator's annoying dry mouth sounds throughout most of the reading, as well as the frequent sounds of page turns in the background. If you are interested in this book, read it, but by all means skip this audio narration.
After reading all the reviews, I decided to go ahead anyway and am glad i did. the book is a very good compliment to the movie and the french documentary on Idi Amin Dada -- lots of raw footage of him in the 70s. I did not find the accents distracting, but instead well done (except for the israli character). The book itself is well written, admittedly, perhaps, could have used some editing, especially in the last 2 hours, but I enjoyed and would recommend to those who have and have not seen the movie.
after hearing of the movie, i assumed the book was written in the 1st person. It is written as someone looking on. I love forest whittaker as an actor,i will see the movie. i am just a little dissapointed in the book. For as long as i can remember i have heard about this man. I thought i would learn more first hand as if coming from him.
I have not seen the movie and after having listened to the audio, I have no interest in it. I was not thrown off by the accents (with the exception if the Isreali woman) and thought the reading was fairly well done. I just felt that it really had no point. Compared to some other self appointed Kings and tyrants of the twentieth century, I was not impressed by the monstrosity of Idi Amin as I thought I should be. I am aware of history's portrayal of the man, yet I felt this did not come through in the story. This is one that probably would have worked better abridged (though I never listen to them) for it was just too long and didn't help me to feel the emotional or mental havoc of the country or characters. I don't recommend this - If you want to know the story, watching the movie would save you many many hours
I really enjoyed this novel even more than I enjoyed the excellent movie. The accents I thought seemed fine (except a woman Israeli accent) and did not bother me at all, though I have spent little time with Scots. I did not notice any boring meandering as other reviewers have suggested. To me this seemed a well paced, fascinating story that helped me understand how Amin began as a somewhat charismatic and intelligent leader and gradually transformed into a monster as the main character gradually found himself trapped in Amin's sphere, unable to leave. My understanding is that the main character is fictional but based on several actual white expatriates who became close to Amin.
It would be most unfortunate if you gave this book a pass for fear of a poor narration. The story is compelling and it's well told. An over simplification: it's the memoir of a Moth (Garrigan) and a Light (Amin), as experienced by the Moth. It also ponders important questions on the moral culpability and complicity of one who remains a bystander at an atrocity. It's really good.
Caveats: 1) I haven't seen the movie yet (but I plan to); and 2) I am no expert on regional accents one may hear in English spoken north of Hadrian's Wall. I am pretty good at the sound of English as spoken by post-colonial Africans for whom it is not their first language, as well as English spoken by Israeli expats. That being said, I declare that the voice talent on this book, one Willis, did a fine job indeed! Since I don't know from Scottish accents, I was happy to accept the way he voiced Dr. Nicholas. I thought he was spot on with the voices of Idi and the other black Africans who speak throughout the story. My only quibble comes with the voice he used for Dr. Sara, which sounded more like the accent of the character played by Peter Lorre in "Casablanca" than any Israeli with whom I have talked.
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