What Went Wrong in Zimbabwe?

Richard Bourne


Explains how a country which had every prospect of success following independence became a brutal police state.
No one in 1980 could have guessed that Zimbabwe would become a failed state on such a monumental and tragic scale.

In this incisive and revealing book, Richard Bourne shows how a country which had every prospect of success when it achieved a delayed independence in 1980 became a brutal police state with hyperinflation, collapsing life expectancy and abandonment by a third of its citizens less than thirty years later.

Beginning with the British conquest of Zimbabwe and covering events up to the present precarious political situation, this is the most comprehensive, up-to-date and readable account of the ongoing crisis. Bourne shows that Zimbabwe's tragedy is not just about Mugabe's 'evil' but about history, Africa today and the world's attitudes towards them.

Author Bio

Richard Bourne is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute of Commonwealth Studies, London University, and a former journalist. He has written and a number of books, including Nigeria: A New History of a Turbulent Century (Zed, 2015).

Table of Contents

  • Glossary of Acronyms, Personalities, Organisations 
  • Timeline
  • Preface and Acknowledgements 
  • Prologue: Two Birthdays 
  • 1. Conquest 
  • 2. White Supremacy and the Settler State 
  • 3. From UDI to Lancaster House 
  • 4. ZANU in Power - the 1980s 
  • 5. The 1990s - When the Wheels Began to Fall Off 
  • 6. Disaster Years, and the Third Chimurenga 
  • 7. From Operation Murambatsvina to an Inclusive Government 
  • 8. How Did it Go Wrong? 
  • Select Bibliography


'There will not be a better account of Zimbabwe for some time to come.'
Stephen Chan, author of Robert Mugabe: A Life of Power and Violence

'Richard Bourne has written a clear, well-linked history of Zimbabwe from its earliest days as a territory invaded and seized by whites to its recent history under the dictatorship of Robert Mugabe.'
Richard Dowden, Director of the Royal Africa Society and author of Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles

'Richard Bourne expertly lays bare Mugabe's terrifying abuse of power as well as charting the failures by Britain and the world to challenge him effectively.'
James Robbins, BBC

'Bourne’s book is an important contribution to understanding what went wrong in independent Zimbabwe; it is also a good account of all the factors that blighted the country and its people long before Mugabe came to power.'
Sir Ronald Sanders


Publication Date: 11 August 2011
320 pages

Product ISBNs: Paperback: 9781848135215
Hardback: 9781848135208
eBook ePub: 9781780321073
eBook PDF: 9781848135222
eBook Kindle: 9781780325101

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