This novel profiles Idi Amin, the former dictator of Uganda, from the viewpoint of the fictional Nicholas Garrigan, Amin’s personal doctor and occasional confident in the 1970s. Insulated by the sudden wealth and privilege of his new position, the naive young Garrigan does not recognize the horrors inflicted on the rest of the country by his charismatic employer. When his own moral choices are called into question, Garrigan is treated to a trip through one of Amin’s torture chambers. As he contrives to escape back to Scotland, Garrigan continues to justify his actions and ignorance and is completely surprised when he is labelled a traitor by his countrymen.
What the Armchair Critics Thought:
The characters are deftly drawn and you can easily understand (but perhaps not forgive) the irresolute behaviour of Garrigan. The charisma of Amin is also clearly apparent and his actions are often comical, yet frightening. One of our meeting participants brought a newspaper clipping of an interview by a Toronto Star reporter during Amin’s heyday. The mixture of childlike glee and psychopathic action was real. Note that readers may be disturbed by some violent scenes.