Win Hooper was an artist-a very good artist. but to narrowly confine her art to the products of paint brushes is to do her an injustice. Her artistry extended to the pictures she painted with her words. Even if you were not fortunate enough to know Win and her husband, John, or even to have any first-hand knowledge of the events of the 1960’s and 1970’s involving Rhodesia and U.S. foreign policy, you quickly will come to know … and understand the history of that period through her elegant, witty, picturesque, perceptive, self-effacing, sometimes a bit naughty, and always informative and engaging letters to her family.

James Ziglar – Distinguished Visiting Professor of Law at the George Washington University Law School

“Win in Washington matches in its power other memoirs of the inventive, practical, no-nonsense people who
unstintingly contributed to Africa when the world stood against them.”

Glenn Babb – Former head of the Africa Division of the South African Department of Foreign Affairs

About the Author
Tony Hooper is a retired academic now living in Wellington, New Zealand. He has been, at various times in his career of over 50 years, a research biologist, an infantry officer, a librarian, a university lecturer, a tour guide and a published author. He holds qualifications from the University of Cape Town, the Catholic University of America and the Victoria University of Wellington.

Book Excerpt:
Fri. 28. July, ’67
“This has been riot fortnight. It was reported that on one night there were race riots in 19 cities across the U.S. A Vietnam veteran returned recently said, “But the war is here!” In Detroit 50 blocks were destroyed by fire. And Detroit is a city where most constructive effort has been made to help the negro. The car manufacturers encourage negro workers; they get good housing; it is the only state that has produced two negro congressmen. The whole thing doesn’t make sense. Is there something sinister behind this pattern of unrest? … I must say that John & I observe all this with wonder, for we are watching a revolution in this country. Since we have been here the words Black Power & White Backlash have been coined. Whole concepts are being overturned. It is as if one were watching a dark & turgid
sea swelling & rolling & fearing what will emerge from the depths.”

Win in Washington – Footprint Press l Win Hooper Artist


Letters and drawings from Rhodesians stranded in the United States after UDI.

Compiled by Tony Hooper

Thank you, Tony Hooper, for your diligence in bringing us this absolutely extraordinary book. The writings of your beloved and talented mother Win Hooper, in her almost daily letters home to you and her daughter Deirdre and family in Inyanga.  It now resides in a place of honour, beside my bed and sends me off to sleep every night with a contented chuckle, a warm feeling of empathy or utter amazement at every priceless snippet I have discovered each night.

From lunches with Supreme Court Justices, to the wives of Presidents Win captures each with the deliciously detailed observation of the great artist she was. From the irresistible temptation of a “Thanksgiving luncheon and pineapples lying on their sides, with a turkey’s head attached” to the view from the top storey window which looked down on “a gentleman in a cocked hat, perched on a prancing horse, which itself is perched on a plinth” and anearbyfountain”with a chilly nude lady clutching something-or-other which drips water.”

These wonderful observations of course mask the extraordinary job Win and her husband John Hooper did, operating one of the only ‘almost legitimate’ Rhodesian information offices still ‘sort of’ operating after the declaration of UDI (the Uniliteral Declaration of Independence) by Southern Rhodesia in 1965. 

Both the Hoopers had the gift of friendship and hospitality and this they used unstintingly in entertaining every useful American political high up (from Kissinger to Carter), to every visiting dignity who might in any possible way be coerced to extend some degree of acceptance, and therefore help, to the Rhodesian case. Both of them became ‘must have’ interviewees, for the Washington and wider American media in as far as the political world would allow, by creating a ‘cause celebre’ which fascinated and intrigued – and achieved outcomes which would simply not have been available otherwise.  Always with such a sense of fun.    

“I’ve been visited by a gentleman armed with a questionnaire” who “wanted to know about the girl who lives with her parents across the street.  In other words he is an official snooper.” Then “a man from the FBI called to ask about a man up the street who had applied for a job at the State Dept. I thought it rather amusing that a Rhodesian should be asked if he was suitable or not!”

From a lunch with President Nixon’s wife, to friendship with Kissinger to endless grand soirees as they sought to make critical contacts, Win also gives careless insight into the dangers of the office among the chapter of events in 1970. “I was standing in shattered glass in John’s offices, while a battered air-conditioner hummed bravely on. I have no doubt that the Rhodesia Herald has made the most of the fact that we were bombed.  I don’t know what eccentricity it is in us, but your Pa and I become rather stimulated on these occasions. Perhaps it was the overwhelming relief that no one was injured and the damage was relatively slight.  Now at least, the powers-that-be will let us have the office painted!   Actually, it has been suggested that the State Dept. are hoping that we are sufficiently intimidated to leave. Not bloody likely.”

The sub-headings for 1970 alone make intriguing reading.  

Dinner at the Embassy; Rhodesia Becomes a Republic; Reactions to the Republic & Ken dines with the President; Postal and telegraphic links to Rhodesia severed; Lunch with the diplomats’ wives; Prince Charles visit; Admiral Baker and his wife Ginny; My paintings of children; Our office is bombed; Kenneth Kaunda in a huff; John Akar, Ambassador for Sierra Leone; Rhodesia Independence Day Party; Children’s portraits; Capitol Hill Speakers’ luncheon; a weekend in New York; visit to West Point; Pre Christmas Party.

As they were leaving to go home, the gathering of the glitterati of the media, politics and new friends covered 24 hours of continuous and fond farewells to this immensely popular, yet bewildering, sophisticated, and erudite couple. Win has captured it superbly and those who knew and loved her, will hear her voice in every sentence.  

Her PS to the farewells: 

One of my last going-away presents was from young Robert Zuckerman next door. He gave me 

1) a Jimmy Carter campaign button

2) a comb

3) a packet of Loving Care hair tint

Get hold of a copy if you possibly can, it will be worth every cent and much, much more.

Win in Washington – Footprint Press l Win Hooper Artist

2 thoughts on “Win in Washington”
  1. The samples of Mrs. Win Hoopers writings has me planning to purchase the book(s) in the future.
    I have just bought P.M. Ian Smiths book, “The Great Betrayal”, and Corporal John Alan Coeys book, “A martyr speaks”.
    Appreciate the works you all are giving us. By video, books, and correspondence.

  2. Really good, pertinent and an account of important history and if memory serves Glenn Babb gave a wonderful presentation to the Owl Club on the subject.

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