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King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa Hardcover – September 1, 1998

4.6 out of 5 stars 999 ratings

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

King Leopold of Belgium, writes historian Adam Hochschild in this grim history, did not much care for his native land or his subjects, all of which he dismissed as "small country, small people." Even so, he searched the globe to find a colony for Belgium, frantic that the scramble of other European powers for overseas dominions in Africa and Asia would leave nothing for himself or his people. When he eventually found a suitable location in what would become the Belgian Congo, later known as Zaire and now simply as Congo, Leopold set about establishing a rule of terror that would culminate in the deaths of 4 to 8 million indigenous people, "a death toll," Hochschild writes, "of Holocaust dimensions." Those who survived went to work mining ore or harvesting rubber, yielding a fortune for the Belgian king, who salted away billions of dollars in hidden bank accounts throughout the world. Hochschild's fine book of historical inquiry, which draws heavily on eyewitness accounts of the colonialists' savagery, brings this little-studied episode in European and African history into new light. --Gregory McNamee

From Publishers Weekly

Hochschild's superb, engrossing chronicle focuses on one of the great, horrifying and nearly forgotten crimes of the century: greedy Belgian King Leopold II's rape of the Congo, the vast colony he seized as his private fiefdom in 1885. Until 1909, he used his mercenary army to force slaves into mines and rubber plantations, burn villages, mete out sadistic punishments, including dismemberment, and committ mass murder. The hero of Hochschild's highly personal, even gossipy narrative is Liverpool shipping agent Edmund Morel, who, having stumbled on evidence of Leopold's atrocities, became an investigative journalist and launched an international Congo reform movement with support from Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington and Arthur Conan Doyle. Other pivotal figures include Joseph Conrad, whose disgust with Leopold's "civilizing mission" led to Heart of Darkness; and black American journalist George Washington Williams, who wrote the first systematic indictment of Leopold's colonial regime in 1890. Hochschild (The Unquiet Ghost) documents the machinations of Leopold, who won over President Chester A. Arthur and bribed a U.S. senator to derail Congo protest resolutions. He also draws provocative parallels between Leopold's predatory one-man rule and the strongarm tactics of Mobuto Sese Seko, who ruled the successor state of Zaire. But most of all it is a story of the bestiality of one challenged by the heroism of many in an increasingly democratic world. 30 illustrations. Agent: Georges Borchardt. First serial rights to American Scholar. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5
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Top international reviews

CASSINI24
4.0 out of 5 stars A well-researched and highly readable account of the largely undocumented genocide in the Congo at the turn of the last century
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 18, 2017
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L. D. Overton
4.0 out of 5 stars Why no photos in Kindle version??
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 12, 2018
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Stevie
5.0 out of 5 stars Informative and devastating
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 30, 2019
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bettyparry
5.0 out of 5 stars The truth about the Congo.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 16, 2015
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Michael
4.0 out of 5 stars Well researched
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 30, 2013
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Jules
4.0 out of 5 stars Abuse and ambition in the jungles of Africa
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 15, 2015
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Reginald C.
5.0 out of 5 stars King Leopold's Ghost Is An Indispensable Book On Trying to Understand The History of the Congo Free State
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 29, 2015
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Muhammad Taha
5.0 out of 5 stars good history piece
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 23, 2017
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Mary Ford
5.0 out of 5 stars and whole tracts of this wonderful country is pretty unspeakable - and is announced with ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on January 4, 2017
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boz
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy it. Dont waste time. It will change your would view.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on September 17, 2017
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Sean
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating book, told like a story, a must read
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on October 15, 2013
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Owen MO
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this book!
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on December 28, 2016
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D. Currie
5.0 out of 5 stars Buy, read and talk about this book.
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on November 1, 2014
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Lee B
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read book
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on May 12, 2018
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Adeola
5.0 out of 5 stars I really don't how to rate this book, 5 ...
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on August 5, 2015
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