Summer reading: Two Weeks in November

Book cover for Two Weeks in NovemberTwo Weeks in November: The Astonishing Inside Story of the Coup That Toppled Mugabe
Douglas Rogers

Everyone who thinks the connections we form early in life will not be useful later on will revise their perspective after reading this book. In a fascinating and almost real-time narration, Douglas Rogers tells the story of how Zimbabwe’s then Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa came to rely heavily on his connections to escape the country after falling out with and being fired by his mentor and boss — Robert Mugabe. Mnangagwa activated his connections from his days in the Rhodesian bush war, contacts who helped him escape to Mozambique through a landmine-infested region under the cover of darkness.

But Mnangagwa’s story of becoming a fugitive overnight is just half of the story. After Mnangagwa was safely out of Zimbabwe, his connections established a command center in South Africa with a satellite center in Harare being manned by his military loyalists. These command centers worked the media, diplomacy, street protests, impeachment proceedings on Robert Mugabe, and prepared the ground for a triumphant return of their man. With ultimate precision, the plan worked. The people protested in the streets, the military drove tanks to support the mass protests, Parliament started impeachment proceedings, and before they could debate the impeachment, Mugabe resigned. Just like that, Emmerson Mnangagwa’s connections had not only kept him safe, but they had elevated their man to the highest office of the land. Rogers’ book is indeed a masterpiece that shows the power of building connections!

Class of 2020
Political economy major

This book is part of the 2020 Berkeley Summer Reading List. Stay tuned for more weekly posts!