Christopher Hitchens

Chronicles of Revolution

Under the Skin: The Death of White Rhodesia

By

Allen Lane 416pp £14.95 order from our bookshop

During the last all-white election in Rhodesia, over which Ian Smith presided in 1977, I went to pay a call on Sir Roy Welensky. The old boy sat in his garden in the suburbs of Salisbury, where an enormous tortoise from the Seychelle Islands was inching about, and talked about the way in which the Rhodesian Front party had colonised the minds of his fellow Europeans. Welensky was a leathery old Tory, with a long record of tough right-wing politics in the old Central African Federation. But he had come to detest racialism and the ruinous war it had brought on the country. ‘It’s always seemed very simple to me’, he said. ‘If you don’t like black men, don’t come and live in Africa.’ I thought then, and I think now, that this was rather a sound point. It used to get one down, hearing red-faced men in bars shouting about how ‘we’ built up this country and weren’t about to give it away to a lot of shiftless ‘Afs’. At least as often as not, one would find that the speaker had left Leamington Spa about five years ago to escape ‘socialist Britain’.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • 'The erecting and immediate destruction of a series of straw men rather detracts from what is for the most part an… ,
    • RT : A magnificent demolition job on this "acid laced tirade...unpleasantly self-obsessed...self pitying polemic...book… ,
    • 'Seventy years on, the time we have left to gather such first-hand testimony is running out.' John Keay on the sig… ,
    • The author 'seethes with contemptuous indignation at the shiny junk that an unregulated construction industry dumps… ,
    • 'The physical courage he demonstrated as a young man [...] gave way to intellectual power; radical thought, gifted… ,
    • 'While Jane Austen didn’t perhaps achieve the full recognition that she deserved in her lifetime, even then she out… ,
    • 'All I have is a voice To undo the folded lie, The romantic lie in the brain Of the sensual man-in-the-street And t… ,