Catalogue


King Leopold's ghost : a story of greed, terror, and heroism in Colonial Africa /
Adam Hochschild.
edition
1st Mariner Books ed.
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2005].
description
376 pages, [16] pages of plates : illustrations, map ; 23 cm.
ISBN
0618001905, 9780618001903
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Boston : Houghton Mifflin, [2005].
isbn
0618001905
9780618001903
contents note
"The traders area kidnapping our people" -- Walking into fire. "I shall not give up the chase" ; The fox crosses the dream ; The magnificent cake ; "The treaties must grant us everything" ; From Florida to Berlin ; Under the Yacht Club flag ; The first heretic ; Where there aren't no Ten Commandments ; Meeting Mr. Kurtz ; The wood that weeps ; A secret society of murderers -- A King at bay. David and Goliath ; Breaking into the thieves' kitchen ; To flood his deeds with day ; A reckoning ; "Journalists won't give you receipts" ; No man is a stranger ; Victory? ; The Great Forgetting -- Looking back : a personal afterword.
general note
On cover: "with a new afterword."
abstract
Documents the plundering of the territory.
catalogue key
9049910
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 348-360) and index.
A Look Inside
Awards
This item was nominated for the following awards:
California Book Awards , USA, 1999 : Won
Lionel Gelber Prize, CAN, 1999 : Won
National Book Critics Circle Awards, USA, 1998 : Nominated
PEN Center USA West Literary Awards, USA, 1999 : Nominated
Robert F. Kennedy Book Award, USA, 1999 : Nominated
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1999-02:
The Republic of the Congo (known until recently as Zaire) experienced an appalling era of tyranny, corruption, exploitation, and torture under the late dictator Mobutu Sese Seko. In castigating Mobutu the West seems to forget the extent to which this immense country was conceived in treachery and violence by a Belgian king. Hochschild provides a lucid and passionate history of Leopold's ironically named Congo Free State and the movement that unveiled the atrocities committed behind a pose of humanitarian goodwill. The counterpoint struggle to conceal and reveal is powerful. Leopold's forces pillaged both resources and people; millions died in this avaricious genocide. In outlining Leopold's use of remote control to devastate this area, the author offers a vivid morality play involving two of the 20th-century's principal themes: the expansion of global investment and the human rights movement. Hochschild may not have discovered any new archival sources for his study, but the genius of this book lies in the author's ability to synthesize and dramatize. The result makes for compelling reading. All levels. J. A. Works Jr.; University of Missouri--St. Louis
Appeared in Library Journal on 1998-05-15:
The author of The Unquiet Ghost: Russia Remembers Stalin, one of LJ's best books of 1994, takes on another megalomaniac. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Appeared in Publishers Weekly on 1998-07-20:
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. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Reviews
Review Quotes
"As Hochschild's brilliant book demonstrates, the great Congo scandal prefigured our own times . . . This book must be read and reread."--Neal Ascherson
"A vivid, novelistic narrative that makes the reader acutely aware of the magnitude of the horror perpetrated by King Leopold and his minions."
"Carefully researched and vigorously told, King Leopold's Ghost does what good history always does -- expands the memory of the human race."
"King Leopold's Ghost is a remarkable achievement, hugely satisfying on many levels. It overwhelmed me in the way Heart of Darkness did when I first read itand for precisely the same reasons: as a revelation of the horror that had been hidden in the Congo." -- Paul Theroux
"An enthralling story, full of fascinating characters, intense drama, high adventure, deceitful manipulations, courageous truth-telling, and splendid moral fervor . . .A work of history that reads like a novel." Christian Science Monitor "As Hochschild's brilliant book demonstrates, the great Congo scandal prefigured our own times . . . This book must be read and reread."--Neal Ascherson The Los Angeles Times "A vivid, novelistic narrative that makes the reader acutely aware of the magnitude of the horror perpetrated by King Leopold and his minions." The New York Times "King Leopold's Ghost is a remarkable achievement, hugely satisfying on many levels. It overwhelmed me in the way Heart of Darkness did when I first read itand for precisely the same reasons: as a revelation of the horror that had been hidden in the Congo." -- Paul Theroux "Carefully researched and vigorously told, King Leopold's Ghost does what good history always does -- expands the memory of the human race." The Houston Chronicle
"An enthralling story, full of fascinating characters, intense drama, high adventure, deceitful manipulations, courageous truth-telling, and splendid moral fervor . . .A work of history that reads like a novel."
"An enthralling story, full of fascinating characters, intense drama, high adventure, deceitful manipulations, courageous truth-telling, and splendid moral fervor . . .A work of history that reads like a novel." Christian Science Monitor "As Hochschild's brilliant book demonstrates, the great Congo scandal prefigured our own times . . . This book must be read and reread."--Neal Ascherson The Los Angeles Times "A vivid, novelistic narrative that makes the reader acutely aware of the magnitude of the horror perpetrated by King Leopold and his minions." The New York Times "King Leopold's Ghost is a remarkable achievement, hugely satisfying on many levels. It overwhelmed me in the way Heart of Darkness did when I first read it--and for precisely the same reasons: as a revelation of the horror that had been hidden in the Congo." -- Paul Theroux "Carefully researched and vigorously told, King Leopold's Ghost does what good history always does -- expands the memory of the human race." The Houston Chronicle
This item was reviewed in:
Boston Globe, September 1998
Los Angeles Times, January 1999
Globe & Mail, September 1999
New York Times Book Review, October 1999
To find out how to look for other reviews, please see our guides to finding book reviews in the Sciences or Social Sciences and Humanities.
Summaries
Main Description
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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