While I really enjoy the thesis of this book, I can help but get information overload. There is so much - and such a large geographical region discuss...moreWhile I really enjoy the thesis of this book, I can help but get information overload. There is so much - and such a large geographical region discussed. It is taking me a long while because I am listening to this one on CD while at work... (less)
Adventure tales by intrepid explorers, the maniacal greed and cruelty of a despotic monarch, and the tireless work of a small group of people to uncov...moreAdventure tales by intrepid explorers, the maniacal greed and cruelty of a despotic monarch, and the tireless work of a small group of people to uncover the truth: this book describes the cast of characters and the story of Belgium's colony in the Congo.
What started as a quest for resources (specifically ivory and rubber) and an expansion beyond the borders of a small European country turned into a holocaust of epic proportions. There are harrowing and graphic scenes of cruelty and torture described (I had to set the book aside more than once - very disturbing), but also some of hope, seeing the birth of some of the human rights advocacy groups that we see today.
The last chapter was the crowning achievement - I really liked how Hochschild wrapped the book up by talking about memory and records. Leopold went to such great lengths to destroy all of the official records - literally burning the State Archives - but he could not take away the memories and oral histories. These stories live on - most notably in Joseph Conrad's *Heart of Darkness* that features characters based on real people and events witnessed in the Congo, and in meticulous research like Hochschild's.
It is a book that was hard to read, but I am so glad I did. Highly recommended.(less)
I knew next to nothing about Captain James Cook when i picked up this book... history books generally gloss over his voyages, even though he explored...moreI knew next to nothing about Captain James Cook when i picked up this book... history books generally gloss over his voyages, even though he explored an area that encompasses nearly 1/3 of the globe. Horwitz's urge to learn all he could about the man and his work is infectious... you can see this in the text rubbing off on those around him, as seen in Roger, his companion on many of his "Cook" travels.
Retracing Captain Cook's three voyages, relying heavily on the diaires of Cook himself, Horwitz decides to take a short trip to the Pacific Northwest to sail for 10 days in a replica of Cook's ship. He wanted a feel for the life or a seaman, and he sure gets it!! Next he sets off to Australia and New Zealand. His journalistic style brings in great aspects of history, anthropology, and language. He interviews Maori people in New Zealand and Aborigines in Australia, asking them what memories their people have of Cook and his men. Both groups remember Captain Cook, oftentimes in a negative light. It does not appear that they despise Cook as a man, but more of what he stood for, and what his exploration meant for the native culture.
Horwitz and Roger then begin to island hop around the Pacific. I particularly liked the time they spent on the island of Niue (like Horwitz, I had never heard of this island.) Describing the scene, Horwitz claims it may be the last part of Polynesia that is not spoiled by commercialism and tourists. He and Roger stay for a week on this small island (only 11 miles long!) and try to unravel the mystery of the hula hula (Cook's men were scared away from these islands by men with red teeth, and they named the island Savage Island because they thought the people were cannibals).
Roger and Horwitz go to Yorkshire, England, Cook's birthplace (and Roger's too), and take part in a few days of the Cook festival. They meet Cliff, the young president of the Captain Cook society, and try to find out as much as they can about the enigmatic Cook. Going to Cook's own home gives Horwitz a different take on the man, and he learns more about Cook's beliefs and his philosophies.
Their travels end in Hawaii, like Cook's did in 1778. They commemorate Cook on the beach where he was killed.
The other aspect of this book that fascinated me was how Horwitz tried to get "into Cook's head". Cook was a son of the Enlightenment, and did not come to Polynesia with preconceived notions of God, Gold, and Glory like earlier explorers. He wanted to discover and learn about others, and was very scientifically conscious for a man of his time. (less)
Unfortunately, I didn't finish the book - but that is not because I didn't enjoy it or learn from it. I got through two-thirds of the book and it was...moreUnfortunately, I didn't finish the book - but that is not because I didn't enjoy it or learn from it. I got through two-thirds of the book and it was recalled to the library. I may pick it up again after it makes its rounds. Fascinating lives and an interesting way to frame the dual biographies.(less)
This was a textbook for an Atlantic History graduate course, and while it was quite thick tome to read in the alloted amount of time (3 days?) it was...moreThis was a textbook for an Atlantic History graduate course, and while it was quite thick tome to read in the alloted amount of time (3 days?) it was fascinating. Going far beyond the general accounts of the Europeans coming to the New World, the book focused on court cases and a large amount of archival material to reconstruct a more comprehensive look at the New World (broadly defining South America, the Caribbean, and North America) in the 1700s.(less)
General historiography and social theory - how social scientists can share information to assist each others' research. I read this during graduate sc...moreGeneral historiography and social theory - how social scientists can share information to assist each others' research. I read this during graduate school a few years back, but I remember being impressed with it at the time. (less)
Once I started this amazing book, it was hard to put it down. The graphic medium really keeps you going.
The book is a joint-effort between Didier Lef...moreOnce I started this amazing book, it was hard to put it down. The graphic medium really keeps you going.
The book is a joint-effort between Didier Lefèvre (the eponymous photographer) and Emmanuel Guilbert (the artist). Lefèvre was a French photojournalist (who passed away in 2007) whose work appeared in many newspapers and magazines. For the assignment described in the book, Lefèvre worked alongside a team from Médicins Sans Frontières / Doctors Without Borders. The journey begins in summer 1985 in Peshawar, Pakistan as Lefèvre meets the team of doctors and nurses who will setting up a hospital in a remote region in Afghanistan. They spend weeks planning their upcoming trek into the war-torn country: obtaining medical supplies, food stores, and finally horses and donkeys, to make the three-week long journey into the mountainous regions of the country. They are escorted by members of the Mujahideen resistance. They avoid the Soviet-held roads and caravan instead through trecherous mountain passes, high altitudes, and swift rivers. Along the way, the team stops and greets/pays respect to local chiefs (whom they have established relationships with) and are treated to large feasts and warm hospitality. Each town they pass through also offers the chance to hear news about the war-front, troop movements, and to treat the injuries and ailments of the people in the towns. Lefèvre captures many moments on film; his photographs are interspersed with the drawings in the graphic novel.
They reach their destination and immediately begin to set up their "hospital" - a ramshackle adobe building. Lefèvre marvels at the teams' work and their fortitude to help these people so desperately in need. The wounds are severe and traumatic: burns, bullet wounds, severed limbs/amputations - most from the battlefront or from Soviet bombings. Some of the stories are so heartbreaking... but the team brings such hope.
The book is a stunning piece of literature - a true "snapshot" of life at that time in Afghanistan. The story is recounted by Lefèvre, so you also have several stories about his relationships with the people in the team - Juliette, the strong and independent leader, who knows how to mix with both men and women in this fundamentalist Islamic culture; John, the burly American doctor with a hear of gold; Régis, the anesthesiologist who dreams of opening a winery in sourthern France... and the many Afghans - Mahmud, Najmudin, and the patients who are treated in the team.
The book is a cultural milestone - bringing this new medium of graphic art into the forefront to tell this deeply important story. The events described in the story are even more poignant knowing the events that take place in the same regions of Afghanistan after September 11, 2001.