'A gripping tale of tropical corruption' Spectator
'A genuine imaginative achievement' Daily Telegraph
'As convincing and terrifying a portrait of a capricious tyrant as I have ever read' Evening Standard
In an incredible twist of fate, a Scottish doctor on a Ugandan medical mission becomes irreversibly entangled with one of the world's most barbaric figures: Idi Amin. Impressed by Dr. Garrigan's brazen attitude in a moment of crisis, the newly self-appointed Ugandan President Amin hand picks him as his personal physician and closest confidante. Though Garrigan is at first flattered and fascinated by his new position, he soon awakens to Amin's savagery - and his own complicity in it. Horror and betrayal ensue as Garrigan tries to right his wrongs and escape Uganda alive.
A vivid journey to the turbulent heart of 1970s Uganda, British journalist Foden's bracing first novel chronicles the strange career of a fictional Scottish physician, Nicholas Garrigan, who serves as the personal doctor and occasional confidante of dictator Idi Amin. Having sequestered himself on a remote island in Scotland, Garrigan reflects, through a fog of self-deception and regret, on his stint as Amin's sidekick, from their first unlikely encounter after a back-road accident (Amin's red Masarati sideswipes a cow) to his installation in the capital as the ruler's house physician. Enjoying the perks of this position, Garrigan ponders an affair with the British ambassador's wife, tends to Amin's sometimes comical afflictions (in a memorable scene, he coaxes a burp from the dictator as if he were a giant infant) and even admits to a "sneaking affection" for him. Garrigan grows so detached from the gradually mounting atrocities of the regime that it takes a visit to the dictator's torture chambers and a harrowing trek across the wartorn countryside for him to glimpse the extent of his own complicity. Expertly weaving together Amin's life story (intertwined with Scottish history for reasons that remain rather vague, though the novel's title is a moniker Amin gave to himself), Foden writes with steely clarity and a sharp satirical edge, allowing serious questions to surface about the ethical boundaries of medicine and the crumbling Western influence in Africa. Garrison is the perfect foil for Amin, whose overwhelming physical presence, peacockish rhetoric and cold-blooded savagery are so well captured as to make this novel more than a mesmerizing read: it is also a forceful account of a surrealistic and especially ugly chapter of modern history. FYI: Foden has been an editor of the Times Literary Supplement.