The Last King of Scotland

by Giles Foden
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Discuss the role of corruption and power in the novel The Last King of Scotland

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Power is personified in Idi Amin, the self-styled 'Last king of Scotland' and the absolute ruler of his country, Uganda. He wields such control that people are generally too scared to speak out against him. But fear is not the only way he keeps other people under. He also has immense charisma, which leads his personal physician, the young Scot Nicholas Garrigan, to admire him while recoiling from him at the same time. Power in this book is therefore not represented just as brute force; it appears somewhat more complex than that. It can exercise a mesmerising spell of its own. Power both fascinates and repels. It also corrupts. Amin's power leads him to behave as though he were an untouchable superman, above all laws and morals and answerable to absolutely no-one but himself. The corrupting influence is also seen in a secondary way in the case of Garrigan, who for a time is so hypnotised by Amin that he becomes complicit in some of his crimes.

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