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King Leopold's Ghost

A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa
Hochschild, Adam (Book - 1999 )
Average Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5.
King Leopold's Ghost
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In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated. King Leopold's Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust. Adam Hochschild brings this largely untold story alive with the wit and skill of a Barbara Tuchman. Like her, he knows that history often provides a far richer cast of characters than any novelist could invent. Chief among them is Edmund Morel, a young British shipping agent who went on to lead the international crusade against Leopold. Another hero of this tale, the Irish patriot Roger Casement, ended his life on a London gallows. Two courageous black Americans, George Washington Williams and William Sheppard, risked much to bring evidence of the Congo atrocities to the outside world. Sailing into the middle of the story was a young Congo River steamboat officer named Joseph Conrad. And looming above them all, the duplicitous billionaire King Leopold II. With great power and compassion, King Leopold's Ghost will brand the tragedy of the Congo--too long forgotten--onto the conscience of the West.
Authors: Hochschild, Adam
Title: King Leopold's ghost
a story of greed, terror, and heroism in Colonial Africa
Publisher: Boston : Houghton Mifflin, 1999
Edition: 1st Mariner Books ed
Characteristics: 376 p., [16] p. plates :,ill., map ;,23 cm
Statement of Responsibility: Adam Hochschild
Notes: On cover: "with a new afterword."
ISBN: 9780618001903
0618001905
Branch Call Number: 967.5 H685k 1999
Bibliography: Includes bibliographical references (p. 348-360) and index
Subject Headings: Human rights movements History 20th century Human rights movements History 19th century Congo (Democratic Republic) Race relations History 20th century Congo (Democratic Republic) Race relations History 19th century Indigenous peoples Congo (Democratic Republic) History 20th century Indigenous peoples Congo (Democratic Republic) History 19th century Forced labor Congo (Democratic Republic) History 20th century Forced labor Congo (Democratic Republic) History 19th century Congo (Democratic Republic) Politics and government 1885-1908 Léopold II, King of the Belgians, 1835-1909
Topical Term: Human rights movements
Human rights movements
Indigenous peoples
Indigenous peoples
Forced labor
Forced labor
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Apr 26, 2011
  • gjanzen rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

This is the story of Belgium's blood-stained history in central Africa. If you got to Brussels today you will find pillaged Congolese 'loot' from the Leopold era in museums, and no memorials to the millions of Congolese who died under the Belgium boot. That is, I suppose, no different from the spoils of colonial power on display all over Europe (The Mall in London is a chilling example).

For a lighter but no less enlightening look at Congo's history, try "In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz" by Michela Wrong.

Apr 09, 2011
  • jwarning rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A strong warning against quiet and subtle nation-building. The author follows Belgium's colonialism into modern day nation-building. The reader cannot help but recognize the political and popular public relations tools used by individuals and governments in pursuit of profits, and at the expense of culture, human life, and natural resources. Excellent book.

Sep 15, 2010
  • imakio rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

An incredible and disturbing book about the history of the rubber industry in Africa.

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app06 Version sidamo (sidamo) Last updated 2014/09/17 15:16