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Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones

3.89  ·  Rating Details ·  1,013 Ratings  ·  140 Reviews
First discovered in 1930, the diamonds of Sierra Leone have funded one of the most savage rebel campaigns in modern history. These "blood diamonds" are smuggled out of West Africa and sold to legitimate diamond merchants in London, Antwerp, and New York, often with the complicity of the international diamond industry. Eventually, these very diamonds find their way into the
Paperback, 280 pages
Published February 5th 2004 by Basic Books (first published 2002)
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How? HOW do these things happen? And keep happening for years? As if the common cutting of limbs, the raping, the murders of children, is all par for the course. Par for the course all right. Play your round of golf; complain about having too much laundry to do; bitch about how soggy your fucking french fries are. These kids, kid killers, they’d get drugged-up, snorting mad-uppers -- ten, eleven, twelve year-old boys -- killing babies, murdering their own families, not even knowing why.


Mar 15, 2009 Michel rated it liked it
Shelves: cultures, pol
Possibly inspired by Ian Fleming's "Diamond Smugglers"?
One book I dreaded to read, and with good cause, as it turned out.
Not the book itself, it's pretty well written, but who wants to know the diamond you bought your wife has cost so much: slave labor, mutilations, murders, children soldiers…?
That's what we do to the 'third world': we give 'aid' to dictators, mostly military by the way, and insist on 'free' trade. The world won't be safe until we switch to 'fair' trade.

Otis Chandler
Aug 11, 2008 Otis Chandler rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction, africa
I learned a lot about an area of the world I knew very little. The book was a journalistic nonfiction account of Sierra Leone, as opposed to the fictional movie (which I also enjoyed).

Key takeaways:
- Human beings can be pretty indecent to each other when the economic incentives are right, and when there are no checks on those in charge. The RUF murdered and mutilated thousands.
- There is *no* way to verify a diamond is not a conflict diamond. No matter what a diamond seller says, stones are untr
Patrick Belair
Apr 28, 2012 Patrick Belair rated it it was amazing
This is a very disturbing book about a conflict far away that most people know little about, or don't care because it has no impact on them. Have clueless they are.The impact in this region will be felt for decades.Remember this the next time you go to the mall, And buy that small token of your love. Think about how many peoples lives have been destroyed.Big business is only concerned with the bottom line.Charles Taylor ex pres of liberia guilty! of war crimes. But someone will always be in line ...more
Oct 04, 2008 Kati rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2008, non-fiction
I am never buying a diamond ever again. Ever.

Note: Contains graphic content, and language.
Mar 10, 2014 Sigmund rated it really liked it
The RUF and most of the diamond industry, particularly DeBeers, were guilty members in Sierra Leone's civil war. They allowed for ten years of anarchy and chaos to sweep through a country. The RUF by being the chaos themselves and DeBeers by enabling them, with money, to continue to do this. And yet, only part of the RUF was properly tried and executed for their crimes. DeBeers remains as a legal organization that supplies millions diamonds across the world. Blood Diamonds provided me with a muc ...more
Mar 26, 2010 Kim rated it it was ok
I went back and forth from liking some of this book to feeling bogged down in detail by other parts of it. Not being familiar with the geography didn't help either. The history of the diamond trade in general and in Sierra Leone in particular are interesting, and the ruthlessness of the various gov'ts/rebels is hard to even comprehend. I guess the logistics of the money transfers and amounts involved, althouogh necessary to make his point, made the story a little dry at times. I want Simon Winch ...more
So so book, it has some interesting stories.
Too much of the book is about the author,
how brave he was to go there,
the hardships he suffered,
how if everyone was as clear-sighted as him,
there wouldn't be a problem, bla bla bla.

Just when you think people couldn't be any worse than you already know
you read about how cutting off hands, and sometimes feet,
was used as a political tactic.


Where was god?
Sep 16, 2014 Erin rated it really liked it
i don't care how clean you tell me it is, i never want a diamond. i read a lot of depressing, intense non-fiction, and this was both if not extremely disturbing. the prologue alone made me nauseous and sad. HOWEVER, i think it's super important to read books like this, because nothing happens in a vacuum. knowing the sheer brutality exerted on people because of diamonds, a manufactured luxury, was enough to ensure i'd never ever want one in my life.
Sep 20, 2009 Cathy rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 28, 2008 Melody rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: heard
The narrator was wonderful. The material he had to work with was grueling to listen to, war and atrocities. Important things to know about the diamond trade and the almost unbelievable inhumanity surrounding it. I'm glad I've always been a CZ kind of person. If I had any diamonds I wouldn't be able to keep them after this book. Really tough but certainly recommended.
Mar 22, 2013 Paula rated it did not like it
Almost good coverage of the conflicts in Sierra Leone ruined by uber liberal left wing reporter who Monday morning quarterbacks every solution to every problem with a nike-esque "AMERICA should just do it" rationalization- in the face of all of his own very compelling arguments as to why it would be almost impossible- that I am sorry his typing hands weren't severed along with the thousands of natives.

There's nothing more offensive to me than someone who shows up in a war torn infrastructure-le
Lisa (Harmonybites)
Jan 18, 2012 Lisa (Harmonybites) rated it liked it
Recommended to Lisa (Harmonybites) by: The Complete Idiot's Guide to the Ultimate Reading List
The subtitle to this one is "tracing the deadly path of the world's most precious stones." The author is a journalist and much of what he reports is first hand based on interviews from everyone involved in this illicit part of the diamond industry from miners to the middlemen to smugglers to spokesmen for the De Beers diamond cartel. The "blood diamonds" of the title are also known as "conflict diamonds" because they are diamonds mined in Africa by forced labor and then sold to fund insurgencies ...more
Gene Park
Jan 18, 2015 Gene Park rated it really liked it
Watching the news nowadays, it’s difficult not to ignore conflicts with a roll of your eyes, and sigh with disinterest. The mentality of most people being “Oh, this doesn’t matter to me” or “This has nothing to do with me” to validate their attitude. And don’t tell me you haven’t felt that before, as modern news gets increasingly more depressing, these conflicts seem to fly over our head.

However, rarely do we understand the inner-workings of such conflicts, and the importance that it has on mode
Mar 25, 2015 Judith rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Quite a journalistic piece.

This is the horrifying story of the war in Sierra Leone in the early 1990s on up to about 2004, after the war ended. The primary combatants were members of the RUF - The Revolutionary United Front, an organization that does not really deserve the name. Initially it was able to recruit soldiers by a lofty goal, saying it was fighting for the citizens, for better conditions for all. In fact, it became a murderous horde, dedicated to seizing diamonds and trading them fo
Dec 07, 2015 Thomas rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Evidemment, tout le monde songe en premier lieu au film avec Léonardo di Caprio (qu'il serait intéressant de revoir après cette lecture) qui a popularisé le problème de la production diamantifère en Sierra-Léone, synonyme d’esclavage et pire encore de guerre civile. Il va sans dire que cet ouvrage est plus documenté et va beaucoup plus loin que cette habile production hollywoodienne. Le commencement n'est pourtant pas aisé : l'auteur pose les bases historiques de ce contexte explosif, remontant ...more
Dec 18, 2016 Brigitta rated it it was amazing
Simply breathtaking. An important narrative that everyone should read. A true tale of the ongoing suffering of Africa at the hands of Western industry and individual greed. I don't think that I can ever buy a diamond again.
Mar 14, 2011 Mqcarpenter rated it it was amazing
Yes this is the book that the recent movie was based on. No I have not seen the movie. The author is a journalist, and it shows. The depth of research and detail in this book is amazing. It outlines in many layers the diamond industry, its history, and its relation to West Africa. I had no idea what to expect from the book, and was shocked to learn the horrid details and atrocities that have been occurring for decades there. Obviously, like the bumper sticker says, "if you are not appalled, you ...more
May 04, 2014 Melodi rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I now kinda regret my diamond. BUT feel better about it knowing it wasn't purchased during the Sierra Leone civil war! It was interesting learning about the history of diamonds and how Debeers has monopolized the market charge of 90% (although I think it's less now). Did you know that diamonds are quite available and common? More so than rubys and emeralds and other precious gems, but Debeers buys them and stock piles them so they don't go on the market to keep the supply and demand at his desir ...more
Apr 08, 2008 Renee rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Those interested in Africa/Sierra Leone
Blood Diamonds by Greg Campbell tells the story of how conflict diamonds have fuelled horrific conflicts in the war torn west African country of Sierra Leone.

Campbell veers between shocking personal accounts of the victims of the conflict and tedious passages detailing the ins and outs of the international diamond industry. There seems to be no end to the stories of innocent civilians who are mutilated and killed for the sake of overpriced pieces of carbon.

Overall, Blood Diamonds is well worth t
Sep 13, 2007 Kim rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: any one who ever bought a diamond
Ok, I know there is a movie, but I didn't see it...I read the book.

I've always been suspicious of advertising and unbridled consumerism. For example, I don't buy cards because my research shows Hallmark and American Greetings basically brainwashed us into believing that somehow we are bad people if we don't recognize events/holidays with a card.

And after reading Blood Diamonds, I am grateful for that skepticism because I always scoffed at the notion of a diamond as a necessity for getting marri
Kohl Gill
Jan 04, 2009 Kohl Gill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone thinking of buying a diamond
Shelves: listened, audible
Fascinating. BD is one that I've always dreaded reading, because it seemed like taking medicine. It's not nearly that bad. The account is moving and the analysis of solutions to the blood-diamond issue is thorough. The middle chapters do drag a bit as the stories of warlords and coups all tend to run together. I recommend having ready access to a world map while reading this.

I listened to this book, unabridged, and I think that was a wise choice. It allowed me to zone out during the repetitive b
Antony Fitzpatrick
May 11, 2013 Antony Fitzpatrick rated it it was amazing
A superb piece of investigative journalism, and it's not often Im complimentary about journalists.

It's horrifying to see how a country that should by all right be one of the richest on the continent is actually one of the poorest in the world. Whilst it's mineral wealth is leached away the people have been made to suffer in ways we can't begin to comprehend.

The book though is very well written. It gives a clear concise history on the discovery of diamonds in Sierra Leone and the initial ways o
Sep 09, 2016 Andynjihia rated it liked it
decent book. Covers Africa's geopolitics and the regional conflicts in West Africa in an adequate manner. It's not groundbreaking or anything and scholars in the relevant fields will find this to be very basic. Still recommend it.
Jun 02, 2009 Greg rated it it was amazing
Books that permanently change your way of looking at things are in short supply, but this was a book that did that for me. I'll never see another huge diamond on someone's finger (or in an ear) without thinking of the amputations, atrocities, and child exploitation generated by the lust for diamonds. The buying of ruthless armies through the mining and sale of 'conflict diamonds' is at the center of decades of blood and horror in western Africa. There are strong links to funding of Hezbollah and ...more
Oct 30, 2011 Dee rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Political junkies and gemstone enthusiasts
Recommended to Dee by: I found it by looking up the movie.
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
One word, gripping. Two words, eye-opening. Three words, Diamonds are Forever.

This is a gut-twisting, scrunch your eyes closed and say Oh my God story! Like all wars the innocent are the ones that seem to pay the highest price. This story continues to unfold in the wake of the war and September 2001. My daughter and I like gemstones and it was through her and a discussion we had that made me want to know more about the most precious gemstone, the diamond and how they are acquired. I always knew
Kathleen Hagen
Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Path of the World’s Most Precious Stones, by Gregg Campbell. Read by Tom Weiner, produced by Blackstone, downloaded from

Publisher’s note:
The diamonds of Sierra Leone have funded one of the most savage rebel campaigns in modern history. These "blood diamonds" are smuggled out of West Africa
and sold to legitimate diamond merchants in London, Antwerp, and New York, often with the complicity of the international diamond industry. Eventually,
these very diamond
Jun 21, 2010 Jason rated it really liked it
Having just finished "A Long Way Gone" I found this book very intriguing. I'd seen the movie by the same name years ago but never knew there was a full non-fiction work addressing these issues.

If this material were covered by any less of a writer it could have had the potential of being extremely dry. However, Campbell does an excellent job of sharing edge-of-your-seat stories about the horrific things done by the R.U.F. (Revolutionary United Front), engaging you with startling statistics, and t
Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D. Simon_Cleveland_Ph.D.
What? The title doesn't make sense? Did you know how many people suffered to get the diamond on your wife's or fiancé's hand? I don't either, but you can take a guess once you read this book. Come, take a ride to a place where children spend their last breaths in a ditch, sifting dirt and mud for the precious stones. Take a walk with the men that die in jungles while transporting this contraband to another country. Sit down with the monsters who butcher the pregnant women, who cut the arms of te ...more
Jun 24, 2007 Kyle rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone who finds West Africa or the diamond trade interesting
Loved this book. It's about Sierra Leone and illegal diamond trading -- so-called Blood Diamonds or Conflist Diamonds. I am so fascinated by West African history and exploitation that I might never read a novel again! The whole idea of colonialism and imperialism and its effects are very interesting. I don't know, it just really makes you think. You start to see what happens when you put resources of a country before its people. And I've talked about it before, but I just find it incredible fasc ...more
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"Whether it means talking my way past teenage rebels guarding a jungle checkpoint or asking hard questions in corporate boardrooms, my goals are to get the story and to tell it better than anyone.

I've been a journalist since 1993, and my work has taken me from the anarchy of wartime Sarajevo to the ritzy offices of the Antwerp Diamond District. I've reported from Bosnia, Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Nige
More about Greg Campbell...

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“When giving money to the amputated, you must put it directly into their pockets.” 5 likes
“An Ax was raised into the smoke filled sky while the surrounding soldiers pinned him down and stood on his hands. It took more than a dozen blows to sever each arm just below the elbows. The strangest sensation, he said, was that one minute he could feel his knuckles being ground into the asphalt by the soldier's boot and in the next he watched the man kick his arm away and he felt nothing.” 1 likes
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