For more than a decade, Ian Smith served as Rhodesia's Prime Minister during the era of white minority rule. Following his death in 2007, he is still a man with the ability to excite powerful emotions. To some he is a leader whose formidable integrity led him into head-to-head confrontation with the Labor government of Britain in the 1960s. To others he is a demon best known for stating "I don't believe in black majority rule ever, not in a thousand years," for staunchly opposing Britain's insistence that majority rule be implemented before the nation’s independence, and for imprisoning the leadership of the newly emerged black nationalist movement. In this revealing autobiography, Smith tells his own side of the story and reveals how he sought to keep Rhodesia on a path to full democracy during the West's decolonization of Africa. He tells the remarkable story behind the signing of the country’s Unilateral Declaration of Independence and addresses the excesses of power that the current president, Robert Mugabe, has used to create the virtual dictatorship which exists in Zimbabwe today. This is a revealing and prescient historical document from a controversial figure charting the rise and fall of a once-great nation.
Edinburgh Insp. John Rebus is far and away the greatest creation of best-selling author Ian Rankin, but neither the brooding, dogged detective nor his creator is well-served by this amateurish book. Cabell begins with an interesting premise: "I'm simply interested in the man and his creation here and the parallels between them." There are parallels, and Cabell strives mightily to unearth how Rankin developed his popular character (Rebus was "retired" in the 2007 novel Exit Music) through a combination of close reading of the books and interviews. But the results are rarely satisfactory. The writing is sloppy, and the insight isn't insightful enough to really "explain" the riddle that is John Rebus. Some of the best observations come from Rankin himself ("I think Rebus joined the Police Force because it allowed him to be a voyeur it allowed him to look into other people's lives rather than look into his own."). Cabell is better when he explores Rankin's other main character, Scotland, and, in particular, Edinburgh and the stark contrast between its public, tourist-friendly face and its background of crime and corruption. (He also provides some literary insight, pointing out the connections between Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in the Rankin novels Knots and Crosses and Hide and Seek.) The volume includes nice photos of Rankin and Rebus's Edinburgh haunts as well as summaries of Rankin TV shows and a Rankin bibliography.