Posts Tagged ‘Philip Terzian’

The perils of selling your books: you never know where they might wind up.

Friday, January 26th, 2018

Beware of gag gifts. You never know where they’ll wind up. Sometimes they make it all the way to the National Library of Israel in Jerusalem.

Buddy? We think not.

Tucked away in the stacks: a published report Uganda and Human Rights, with an unusual dedication from Uganda’s former leader and genocidaire, Idi Amin, the general who took over Uganda in a coup in 1971. After a brutal and genocidal regime, he was deposed in a counter-coup eight years later.

The dedication reads:

To Phil Torzian
With Best Good
Wishes From Field Marshak
President Idi
Amin, D.S.O, V.C.,
C.H., O.M., D. Litt. (Hon), Chancellor
of Makerere

28th May 1977

Too nice a guy for that.

The dedicatee is Philip Terzian, the kindly and genial senior writer, and former literary editor, at The Weekly Standard. Was he a friend of …? Why would Idi Amin present a detailed UN report on his human rights violations as a gift to a journalist? And with such a warm dedication to boot? And how did such a report come to be in the stacks of the National Library stacks?

“Im sure the book was mine and I’m 99.9% sure it was a gag gift from my late cousin,” Philip wrote in a note to me, after he had posted the photo on Facebook. “Around that time (1977) I had given Steve a framed/inscribed photo of Amin in his chancellor’s robes from Makerere University, and this was undoubtedly a return (gag) gift. I probably sold the book in Los Angeles and there are a dozen ways it could have made its way to Israel.”

Postscript: Whoops! Philip Terzian has published his own account of the brouhaha over at the Weekly Standard here. Check it out. And while you’re at it, a Q&A with him over at Creative Armenia here.