Once Upon a White Man - a memoir of War and Peace in Africa

Rated 5.00/5 based on 2 reviews
From the terrors of Rhodesia’s 1970’s bush war, to the final disintegration of Zimbabwe under Robert Mugabe, this is a traumatic account of a conflicted young man who experiences his life and homeland being torn asunder. Honest, revealing and deeply emotional. Offers intriguing insights into the dilemma faced by patriotic white Africans trapped in the march of politics and history

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Words: 62,700
Language: English
ISBN: 9781452307985
About Graham Atkins

Graham Atkins attended Churchill High School in Salisbury (now Harare), then studied town planning at Wits University. In 1979, when the Rhodesian bush war was at its height, he was conscripted as an officer in the Zimbabwe-Rhodesia army. He was wounded in battle in the Zambezi Valley. After the war ended in 1980, Graham worked first as a town planner for the new Zimbabwe government, then as a safari camp manager in Hwange National Park, and finally as a senior business manager in Harare. He is now a property investor in Perth, Australia


Review by: Balazs Pataki on Feb. 13, 2013 :
Tagged and described as it were a visceral war story, "Once Upon a White Man" actually is a splendid autobiography giving insight into Zimbabwe's troubles during the past decades. It fills an information gap because not much is known about how local Whites had seen those times and offers a refreshingly different view than what Western media had reported all along. It's not a White man's self-justification however, as the author presents the conflict in all its gray shades where no party is entirely innocent in the ultimate downfall of Zimbabwe. Atkins presents Whites as the backbone of a functioning society, but he also shows their inability to adapt to the changes of time; he approaches Blacks with true compassion (doing a remarkable job at avoiding paternalism and condescence), but he also speaks about their brutality and lack of moral integrity. Historical events are spiking among personal memories and anecdotes, and every page is imbued with deep love to Africa and Africans, beyond the racial barriers.
Finally, I was impressed by the author's ability to describe his native land. Sometimes it is lyrical in a way that appeals to every sense, saturating the reader's mental nose, palate and ears, while at other parts it's just plain words like "it was early August and winter was barely over" that made me realize what a different world Atkins' Africa is.
All in all, it's an fascinating autobiography that feeds the mind and casts a spell on heart and senses.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

Review by: Avery Morrow on Aug. 09, 2011 :
This book is world class. It deserves to find a publisher immediately. What we have here is a memoir of a wise and moderate man, who did his best to save Rhodesia from self-destruction, and tried to earn a decent living in the resulting Zimbabwe for many years. The author's attention to detail is as good as that of any bestselling autobiography. He remembers things that both racists and leftists would rather forget-- the culture of humiliation and violence that made Rhodesia unsustainable, and the ugly silence of world opinion that made it possible for Mugabe to get away with genocide and ethnic cleansing. I wish it were twice as long. Even though I've never been to Africa, this book tore me from my political views and made me think seriously about the goals of humanity.

It's quite sad that this well-written, passionate book hasn't gotten a single review since 2009.
(reviewed within a week of purchase)

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