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King Leopold's Ghost - 98 edition

King Leopold`s Ghost (ISBN10: 0618001905; ISBN13: 9780618001903)
ISBN13: 978-0618001903
ISBN10: 0618001905

This edition has also been released as:
ISBN13: 978-0395759240
ISBN10: 0395759242

Summary: King Leopold's Ghost tells the story of King Leopold II of Belgium and his (mis)rule of a colony that he essentially owned, known variously as the Congo, the Belgian Congo, and Zaire. It is a wild and unpleasant story of man's capacity for evil and the peculiar manifestations of it. King Leopold II, who never set foot in his fiefdom, managed (with the help of many willing underlings) to ruin a country. Regrettably, it is not the worst example of colonial misrule, but ...show more merely a representative one. What is shocking is how many people were affected (the Congo is a huge territory) and also how recent these events were -- barely a hundred years ago.
Hochschild effectively portrays Leopold's misrule, and, equally significantly, describes those that managed to campaign against it. There were heroes in this sordid tale, human rights campaigners at a time when the concept was still a foreign one and when it was taken for granted that the white man was superior to the natives.
We were somewhat surprised by the reaction to the book, at how unfamiliar people are to the events described herein. Even Hochschild acknowledges that he knew little about Leopold's misrule (and the campaign against it), and near the end of the book he describes a Belgian diplomat who was also unfamiliar with these events. We always thought people knew. Apparently they didn't and they don't, and so this is a very useful book in again revealing what went on.
Hochschild is effective in his descriptions, especially of the colourful individuals involved, both the good and the bad. His analysis of the situation is solid, though necessarily superficial (it is a short book, dealing with far flung and complex issues and occurrences). Hochschild packages the story well, and it makes a good -- though shocking -- read. Hochschild simplifies on occasion, but he does so in a reasonable and acceptable manner. The basic case of what happened is well presented, and the historical characters do come alive.
It is a thoughtful book, with Hochschild generally reminding the reader of the dangers the text poses, e.g. in its reliance on sources that are naturally not objective. A reminder of the horrors of colonialism in any form, and of the consequences of power (corrupting, here as everywhere, absolutely), this is required reading for anyone not familiar with the story. (Those who know all about King Leopold II might find it a bit oversimplified, but it is still a decent read).

...show less

Edition/Copyright: 98
Cover: Paperback
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Published: 09/28/1999
International: No

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Wilmington, Massachusetts, U.S.A. 1999 Soft Cover As New 0618001905 366pp including bibliography and index A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist.
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366 pp., illus., map, biblio., index; 23 cm. Tight, clean copy. Browning. "In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostl ...show morey 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." - Publisher. ...show less
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Boston, MA 1999 Trade paperback Good. Trade paperback (US). Glued binding. 384 p. Contains: Illustrations. Intended for a young adult/teenage audience.
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