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The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and…
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The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa (original 2009; edition 2010)

by Douglas Rogers (Author)

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
24415109,752 (4.04)11
Thrilling, heartbreaking, and, at times, absurdly funny, The Last Resort is a remarkable true story about one family in a country under siege and a testament to the love, perseverance, and resilience of the human spirit. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country's long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He escaped the dull future mapped out for him by his parents for one of adventure and excitement in Europe and the United States. But when Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe launched his violent program to reclaim white-owned land and Rogers's parents were caught in the cross fire, everything changed. Lyn and Ros, the owners of Drifters-a famous game farm and backpacker lodge in the eastern mountains that was one of the most popular budget resorts in the country-found their home and resort under siege, their friends and neighbors expelled, and their lives in danger. But instead of leaving, as their son pleads with them to do, they haul out a shotgun and decide to stay. On returning to the country of his birth, Rogers finds his once orderly and progressive home transformed into something resembling a Marx Brothers romp crossed with Heart of Darkness: pot has supplanted maize in the fields; hookers have replaced college kids as guests; and soldiers, spies, and teenage diamond dealers guzzle beer at the bar. And yet, in spite of it all, Rogers's parents-with the help of friends, farmworkers, lodge guests, and residents-among them black political dissidents and white refugee farmers-continue to hold on. But can they survive to the end? In the midst of a nation stuck between its stubborn past and an impatient future, Rogers soon begins to see his parents in a new light: unbowed, with passions and purpose renewed, even heroic. And, in the process, he learns that the "big story" he had relentlessly pursued his entire adult life as a roving journalist and travel writer was actually happening in his own backyard. Evoking elements of The Tender Bar and Absurdistan, The Last Resort is an inspiring, coming-of-age tale about home, love, hope, responsibility, and redemption. An edgy, roller-coaster adventure, it is also a deeply moving story about how to survive a corrupt Third World dictatorship with a little innovation, humor, bribery, and brothel management.… (more)
Member:crabbytaco
Title:The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa
Authors:Douglas Rogers (Author)
Info:Crown (2010), Edition: NO-VALUE, 336 pages
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:**
Tags:None

Work Information

The Last Resort: A Memoir of Mischief and Mayhem on a Family Farm in Africa by Douglas Rogers (2009)

  1. 10
    The Fear: Robert Mugabe and the Martyrdom of Zimbabwe by Peter Godwin (Popup-ch)
    Popup-ch: Both books show the absurdities of Mugabes reign. Rogers through light-hearted (rather black) humour, and Godwin through the well-documented atrocities of the regime. Rogers is the Graham Greene to Godwins Solzhenitsyn.
  2. 00
    African Laughter: Four Visits to Zimbabwe by Doris Lessing (LBV123)
  3. 00
    When a Crocodile Eats the Sun by Peter Godwin (bergs47)
  4. 00
    Don't Let's Go to the Dogs Tonight: An African Childhood by Alexandra Fuller (vwinsloe)
  5. 00
    One Hundred and Four Horses: A Memoir of Farm and Family, Africa and Exile by Mandy Retzlaff (vwinsloe)
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English (14)  Spanish (1)  All languages (15)
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
When President Robert Mugabe announced his plans reclaim Zimbabwe land from white farmers, it was not an idle threat. All across the landscape, white-owned properties and farms were first taken by decree then by force. People were arrested or even murdered and lives systematically destroyed, piece by piece and acre by acre. Douglas Rogers was born and raised in the Zimbabwe countryside with vibrant and industrious parents. His father had been a lawyer and his mother raised four children while writing a cookbook called "Recipes for Disaster." Together they ran a game farm and tourist lodge called Drifters. By the time Mugabe was in office Ros and Lin's children had grown and moved away. Douglas was a journalist in Europe. When Mugabe's people threatened their property Douglas urged his parents to leave and when that didn't work, he realized their struggle would make for a good memoir. By documenting the political strife on an extremely personal level, he would reach a wider audience and shed more light on the corrupt situation in his homeland. As the country slid into uncontrolled bankruptcy, Rogers' parents struggle to keep their lives as normal as possible. Even when their resort was taken over as a brothel, their fields turned to pot (literally), and diamond dealers camped in their lodges. With shotgun in hand, they made light of the growing danger on their doorstep. How long can they keep their land? ( )
  SeriousGrace | Apr 15, 2024 |
For whatever reason, this was not the book I thought it was going to be. I thought it was going to encompass more of a travel angle using Zimbabwe as the backdrop and Drifters Backpacker Lodge as the setting, but those ended up being the central characters of a Shakespearean tragedy instead.

This story is a narrative of one family's struggles as well as one nations struggles pitted against that same nation. And a sad story it is. If you love depressing, then here is your book!

Unlike the reviews I looked at prior to picking up a copy, I failed to see much humor in the painful economic collapse of Zimbabwe. The domination of the powerful over the weak is another subject that I am not entirely enamored with. Sure, there was much to chuckle at but overall everything else was too sobering for it to last more than half a second or so. Or you could say, yeah sure, I too make light of life when reality is purely hellish.

Anyway, this is a well-documented tale of a chunk of time in Zimbabwe's history, roughly the years 2000-2008. The chaos and injustice is mind-boggling as is the stupidity of the leadership whose designs contrived the chaos and injustices. (We see much of the same thing happening today in the United States.)

I essentially had a hard time reading it. I thought it would be a fun read, and while a good book I found myself disappointed, there wasn't much to enjoy.

I probably shouldn't knock it as much as I am because the memoir is well told from all sides; from the author who is a native Zimbabwean but now more-or-less an outsider to all the insiders who were combatants on all sides during the long, long war for independence. Zimbabwe is unique in that all of the proxy wars brought about by the Cold War, theirs is the only war won backed by China and not by the US or Russia. By default then, Robert Mugabe and Zimbabwe have been labelled "Communists," but if they had been backed by the US in the struggle then they would have been labeled a puppet government of Uncle Sam. It's that simple.

Tangential, but a decade or so before this story starts I was held up at a land border crossing trying to get into Zimbabwe. There were 6 of us, but I was the only one hassled at immigration and prevented from crossing. It had happened to me before when traveling, it's your unlucky day and you encounter the one subhuman with just enough power to hold sway. It doesn't matter what the rules or regulations or policies are, but in a corrupt system any single person can use what little power they have to make others' lives difficult. I used to call it being a third world authority figure, but we've seen that more and more in the new millennium with the US military and US police forces so that's an unfair designation. In any case, I was in a no man's land. But fortuitously one person in our group happened to know someone in that border town, on the Zimbabwe side. Calls were made, a bank bond was issued to immigration (like I might abscond or stay in Zimbabwe for the rest of my life!!!), I managed to cross the border, a morning or half a day was wasted, and then later we all sat down for some beers. Part of that whole story is that this guy's parents were attacked and killed during the war... and now he was back farming to feed Zimbabwe. I can only presume that his farm was taken during the land invasions outlined in Rogers' book.

Zimbabwe, a tragedy. The Last Resort, a tragedy. Tragic all around...

Oh, I almost forgot. I was going to rate this as 3-1/2 stars, but gave Douglas Rogers the benefit of the doubt. The other problem with the book is that it ended before the story ended. I guess after 5 years or whatever it was time to wrap it up and call it finished. But the story was not finished so it ended quite abruptly. The big story was Zimbabwe and its economic collapse, but told through the Rogers family there was more to that story that never got told, almost mid-sentence... "the end." It wasn't the best ending, let's put it that way. ( )
  Picathartes | Aug 12, 2021 |
nonfiction; memoir of living in Zimbabwe in 2000-2008.

Well, at least I don't live in this period of Zimbabwe's instability. ( )
  reader1009 | Jul 3, 2021 |
Quite a few white Zimbabweans have published memoirs and commentaries in the last few years. Many, like Rogers, are no longer living their, but experience it through their parents and their childhood friends. What makes Rogers' book stand out, in my opinion, is his journalist's understanding of the importance of objective facts and research to examine the compelling stories of white and black Zimbabweans, and his balanced and nuanced attention to the current political situation. This is not a "golden times" reminiscence, nor is it a white liberal guilt fest. It is an intelligent examination laced with humor and vivid description. Rogers doesn't sugarcoat his own feelings or reactions, which makes me empathize with him and trust him as an observer. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
The news is Zimbabwe kills white farmers and has ludicrous inflation rates. Mugabe is a basket case horror show of mismanagement. This memoir by Douglas Rogers, who was born and raised in Zimbabwe the son of white farmers provides a more nuanced, and occasionally humorous view. After school. Rogers left the country for the big cities of London and New York, anywhere but the rural farm of his upbringing. But his pioneering parents stayed, anything but give up the farm. This is their story as told by Rogers who came back to visit on occasion. His writing is like breath, hardly noticeable and inhaled in effortless speed, a model of clear and interesting prose. The story-arc is genuine, as the country falls apart his parents find increasingly sketchy ways to keep the farm out of the hands of the government/bandits. Curious people fill the pages, Zimbabwe is a land of weird going on not unlike the Mississippi Delta (see Richard Grant's magnificent Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta). This is a gem of book. ( )
  Stbalbach | May 31, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 14 (next | show all)
despite the subject of the book dealing with the demise of Zimbabwe since 2000, the story line is ultimately a beautifully written memoir of hope and Zimbabweans ability to 'maak 'n plan' when times are extremely difficult. The introduction will have you in stitches - the day that the writer founds out about the first white farmer in Zimbabwe being shot, he phones his parents from Europe to find out how they are. Mom and dad are upset about the cricket, rather than too worried about farm evictions. Without wanting to give the plot away, the book is a well written collection of individual stories that follow the survival of white Zimbabweans, who despite a country in ruins, continue to live in hope and manage to actually live a rather interesting life. It is well worth the read as chapter upon chapter, it shows that with hope, positive thinking and creative ideas, life continues to be worthwhile even in a country as destitute as Zimbabwe.
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For my parents
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I was five thousand miles away, drunk and happily unaware at a friend's birthday party in Berlin, when I learned that the first white farmer had been murdered.
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Thrilling, heartbreaking, and, at times, absurdly funny, The Last Resort is a remarkable true story about one family in a country under siege and a testament to the love, perseverance, and resilience of the human spirit. Born and raised in Zimbabwe, Douglas Rogers is the son of white farmers living through that country's long and tense transition from postcolonial rule. He escaped the dull future mapped out for him by his parents for one of adventure and excitement in Europe and the United States. But when Zimbabwe's president Robert Mugabe launched his violent program to reclaim white-owned land and Rogers's parents were caught in the cross fire, everything changed. Lyn and Ros, the owners of Drifters-a famous game farm and backpacker lodge in the eastern mountains that was one of the most popular budget resorts in the country-found their home and resort under siege, their friends and neighbors expelled, and their lives in danger. But instead of leaving, as their son pleads with them to do, they haul out a shotgun and decide to stay. On returning to the country of his birth, Rogers finds his once orderly and progressive home transformed into something resembling a Marx Brothers romp crossed with Heart of Darkness: pot has supplanted maize in the fields; hookers have replaced college kids as guests; and soldiers, spies, and teenage diamond dealers guzzle beer at the bar. And yet, in spite of it all, Rogers's parents-with the help of friends, farmworkers, lodge guests, and residents-among them black political dissidents and white refugee farmers-continue to hold on. But can they survive to the end? In the midst of a nation stuck between its stubborn past and an impatient future, Rogers soon begins to see his parents in a new light: unbowed, with passions and purpose renewed, even heroic. And, in the process, he learns that the "big story" he had relentlessly pursued his entire adult life as a roving journalist and travel writer was actually happening in his own backyard. Evoking elements of The Tender Bar and Absurdistan, The Last Resort is an inspiring, coming-of-age tale about home, love, hope, responsibility, and redemption. An edgy, roller-coaster adventure, it is also a deeply moving story about how to survive a corrupt Third World dictatorship with a little innovation, humor, bribery, and brothel management.

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