King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

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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.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
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Published on
Sep 3, 1999
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Pages
400
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ISBN
9780547525730
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Language
English
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Genres
History / Africa / General
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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The coast of East Africa was considered a strategically invaluable region for the establishment of trading ports, both for Arab and Persian merchants, long prior to invasion and conquest by Europeans. In the initial stages of the scramble for Africa in the 18th century, control of the area was an aspiration for every colonial nation in Europe - but it was not until 1895 that it was finally dominated by a sole power and proclaimed The Protectorate of British East Africa. In the early 20th century, the coast was brimming with vitality as immigrants, colonisers and missionaries from Arabia, India and Europe poured in to take advantage of growing commercial opportunities - including the prospect of enslaving millions of native Africans. The development of Kenya is an exceptional tale within the history of British rule - in perhaps no other colony did nationalistic feeling evolve in conditions of such extensive social and political change. In 1911, S.H. Fazan sailed to what later became the Republic of Kenya to work for the colonial government.
Immersing himself in knowledge of traditional language and law, he recorded the vast changes to local culture that he encountered after decades of working with both the British administration and the Kenyan people. This work charts the sweeping tide of social change that occurred through his career with the clarity and insight that comes with a total intimacy of a country. His memoirs examine the fascinating complexity of interaction between the colonial and native courts, commercial land reform and the revolutionised dynamic of labour relations. By further unearthing the political tensions that climaxed with the Mau Mau Revolt of 1952-1960, this invaluable work on the European colonial period paints a comprehensive and revealing firsthand account for anyone with an interest in British and African history. Fazan's story provides a quite unparalleled view of colonial Africa and the conduct of Empire across half a century.
In 1964 Kenneth Kaunda and his United National Independence Party (UNIP) government established the nation of Zambia in the former British colony of Northern Rhodesia. In parallel with many other newly independent countries in Africa this process of decolonisation created a wave of optimism regarding humanity's capacity to overcome oppression and poverty. Yet, as this study shows, in Zambia as in many other countries, the legacy of colonialism created obstacles that proved difficult to overcome. Within a short space of time democratisation and development was replaced by economic stagnation, political authoritarianism, corruption and ethnic and political conflict. To better understand this process, Dr Larmer explores UNIP's political ideology and the strategies it employed to retain a grip on government. He shows that despite the party's claim that it adhered to an authentically African model of consensual and communitarian decision-making, it was never a truly nationally representative body. Whereas in long-established Western societies unevenness in support was accepted as a legitimate basis for party political difference, in Zambia this was regarded as a threat to the fragile bindings of the young nation state, and as such had to be denied and repressed. This led to the declaration of a one-party state, presented as the logical expression of UNIP supremacy but it was in fact a reflection of its weakening grip on power. Through case studies of opposition political and social movements rooted in these differences, the book demonstrates that UNIP's control of the new nation-state was partial, uneven and consistently prone to challenge. Alongside this, the study also re-examines Zambia's role in the regional liberation struggles, providing valuable new evidence of the country's complex relations with Apartheid-era South Africa and the relationship between internal and external opposition, shaped by the context of regional liberation movements and the Cold War. Drawing on extensive archival research and interviews, Dr Larmer offers a ground-breaking analysis of post-colonial political history which helps explain the challenges facing contemporary African polities.
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • A worthy heir to Isak Dinesen and Beryl Markham, Alexandra Fuller shares visceral memories of her childhood in Africa, and of her headstrong, unforgettable mother.

“This is not a book you read just once, but a tale of terrible beauty to get lost in over and over.”—Newsweek

“By turns mischievous and openhearted, earthy and soaring . . . hair-raising, horrific, and thrilling.”—The New Yorker

Though it is a diary of an unruly life in an often inhospitable place, Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is suffused with Fuller’s endearing ability to find laughter, even when there is little to celebrate. Fuller’s debut is unsentimental and unflinching but always captivating. In wry and sometimes hilarious prose, she stares down disaster and looks back with rage and love at the life of an extraordinary family in an extraordinary time.

From 1972 to 1990, Alexandra Fuller—known to friends and family as Bobo—grew up on several farms in southern and central Africa. Her father joined up on the side of the white government in the Rhodesian civil war, and was often away fighting against the powerful black guerilla factions. Her mother, in turn, flung herself at their African life and its rugged farm work with the same passion and maniacal energy she brought to everything else. Though she loved her children, she was no hand-holder and had little tolerance for neediness. She nurtured her daughters in other ways: She taught them, by example, to be resilient and self-sufficient, to have strong wills and strong opinions, and to embrace life wholeheartedly, despite and because of difficult circumstances. And she instilled in Bobo, particularly, a love of reading and of storytelling that proved to be her salvation.

Alexandra Fuller writes poignantly about a girl becoming a woman and a writer against a backdrop of unrest, not just in her country but in her home. But Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight is more than a survivor’s story. It is the story of one woman’s unbreakable bond with a continent and the people who inhabit it, a portrait lovingly realized and deeply felt.

Praise for Don’t Let’s Go to the Dogs Tonight

“Riveting . . . [full of] humor and compassion.”—O: The Oprah Magazine
 
“The incredible story of an incredible childhood.”—The Providence Journal
With the utterance of a single line—“Doctor Livingstone, I presume?”—a remote meeting in the heart of Africa was transformed into one of the most famous encounters in exploration history. But the true story behind Dr. David Livingstone and journalist Henry Morton Stanley is one that has escaped telling. Into Africa is an extraordinarily researched account of a thrilling adventure—defined by alarming foolishness, intense courage, and raw human achievement.

In the mid-1860s, exploration had reached a plateau. The seas and continents had been mapped, the globe circumnavigated. Yet one vexing puzzle remained unsolved: what was the source of the mighty Nile river? Aiming to settle the mystery once and for all, Great Britain called upon its legendary explorer, Dr. David Livingstone, who had spent years in Africa as a missionary. In March 1866, Livingstone steered a massive expedition into the heart of Africa. In his path lay nearly impenetrable, uncharted terrain, hostile cannibals, and deadly predators. Within weeks, the explorer had vanished without a trace. Years passed with no word.

While debate raged in England over whether Livingstone could be found—or rescued—from a place as daunting as Africa, James Gordon Bennett, Jr., the brash American newspaper tycoon, hatched a plan to capitalize on the world’s fascination with the missing legend. He would send a young journalist, Henry Morton Stanley, into Africa to search for Livingstone. A drifter with great ambition, but little success to show for it, Stanley undertook his assignment with gusto, filing reports that would one day captivate readers and dominate the front page of the New York Herald.

Tracing the amazing journeys of Livingstone and Stanley in alternating chapters, author Martin Dugard captures with breathtaking immediacy the perils and challenges these men faced. Woven into the narrative, Dugard tells an equally compelling story of the remarkable transformation that occurred over the course of nine years, as Stanley rose in power and prominence and Livingstone found himself alone and in mortal danger. The first book to draw on modern research and to explore the combination of adventure, politics, and larger-than-life personalities involved, Into Africa is a riveting read..
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