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Congo: The Epic History of a People

4.32  ·  Rating details ·  3,840 ratings  ·  316 reviews
The gripping saga of one of the world's most devastated countries

The Democratic Republic of Congo currently ranks among the world's most failed nation-states, second only to war-torn Somalia. David Van Reybrouck's Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the history of this devastated nation from the beginnings of the slave trade through the arrival of Sir Henry Morton S
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Hardcover, 656 pages
Published March 25th 2014 by Ecco (first published 2010)
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4.32  · 
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 ·  3,840 ratings  ·  316 reviews


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Orsodimondo
CUORE NERO SUL PIANETA TERRA
L’opera inizia al meglio, ha un bell'incipit che ricorda quello del magnifico libro di Robert Hughes La riva fatale: già a 800 km dalla costa, arrivando in nave, David van Reybrouck, scrittore belga fiammingo (da qui in poi DvR per semplicità), inizia a descrivere le acque del fiume - i colori, che dal blu si fanno sempre più tendenti al marrone - sono acque che dopo aver percorso centinaia di chilometri raccogliendo terra, piante, tronchi e detriti di ogni genere, sf
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Warwick

The Democratic Republic of Congo is about as fucked as a country can get, and one of the most defining examples of a failed state. It is also – and this is not a coincidence – a site of crucial importance for the resources of the modern world, from rubber and ivory in the nineteenth century, through uranium during the Cold War, to the coltan inside every iPhone and Playstation 4 – it's all been supplied from this vast country where life expectancy is 49 and three-quarters of the population have
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Dagio_maya
Nell’immaginario collettivo nominare lo stato del Congo riconduce a immagini di foreste vergini da attraversare a colpi di machete.
Una nazione incastrata tra le tante di un continente spesso e volentieri ignorato e a cui, forzatamente, si bada costretti dalla cronaca urlata di un telegiornale.
Il Congo in realtà non è uno staterello facilmente ignorabile ma “un paese di 2,3 milioni di chilometri quadrati, grande come l’Europa Occidentale e due terzi dell’India, l’unico paese dell’Africa con due
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Mikey B.
Mar 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book provides us with a history of Congo from the days of the Belgian King Leopold II to the present day. It is a history of the exploitation of natural resources. One could at least say that the British in India, for example, provided some education for the indigenous population – whether it was military training or a formal education.

The Belgians just took – first the rubber from the trees, which they didn’t even bother to cultivate like the British did in Malaysia, forcing the Congolese
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Benny
Aug 28, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Gigantisch gehypet en een onwaarschijnlijk verkoopsucces, maar ondanks de indrukwekkende hoeveelheid voetnoten, heb ik het hier inhoudelijk soms erg moeilijk mee.

Congo is heel knap gecomponeerd en prachtig geschreven, dat maakt het extra jammer dat de auteur inhoudelijk een paar keer wel erg kort door de bocht gaat. Met name de inmenging van het westen (van België, maar zeker ook van de USA) blijft onwaarschijnlijk onderbelicht.

Een klein voorbeeld? 0p p.301 staat "Bij de historische koninkrijk
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Dax
While difficult to read at times, "Congo" is a horribly mesmerizing account of the last 150 years of Congo's history. From Leopold II and early colonialism to present day conflicts, life in the Congo has been an endlessly bloody affair.

Reybrouck's book is an important work. He uses memories and anecdotes of natives to tell the country's history. Most histories, particularly African histories, have been written by the colonizers. As Reybrouck says, "All I know is that I would rather talk to norma
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Steve
Aug 04, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was widely popular in Van Reybrouck's native Belgium when it first came out in 2010, and with good reason. He goes back to essentially prehistoric times and traces the history of the Congo (or today, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, DRC) up until the times leading up to just a few years ago.

It is an expansive history which of course encompasses the history of Central Sub-Saharan Africa, and per usual much attention is given to colonial times, through independence and up until the
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Edmond Dantes
Jan 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Alzi la mano chi, da Piccolo, e che ora veleggia sui 50 o oltre, non è stato mai ammonito, da un nonno o uno zio, di non fare il "Baluba" o essere tacciato di essere un pò "Bagongo"....
Adesso scopro che non sono altro che due delle Tribu/Etnie del Congo Profondo, la cui storia, politica, economia , usi e costumi viene analizzata dettagliamente e in maniera chiaara dall'autore, figlio peraltro di un ex dipendente della Union Miniere ne Katanga secessionista (e come non ricordare i Katanghini nost
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Ram
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This review is partly written with sarcasm but has no intention to offend any of the people of Congo or any other African state.

An interesting well researched book that presents the History of Congo from the beginning of the slave trade until modern times (2010). Some parts of the book were very complex and hard to follow because there are so many people and organizations involved, it became hard to follow. Altogether a nice read if you manage to follow all the different names and organizations
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Peter Mcloughlin
This magisterial history of Congo keeps the readers interest in a country which may not be of immediate interest to readers. The history of Congo goes back 90,000 years when the first evidence of human habitation of the area is well documented. Congo's prehistory is not static like other places there is an arc of development from hunter gathering existence to agriculture and iron working but the pace of change really picks up in the 1870s with the arrival of europeans into the interior of centr ...more
Bfisher
Aug 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
This book is unusual in its reliance on oral history. However, given the events that have occurred in Congo-Ziare-Congo over the period 1960-2010, it is difficult to see how a complete picture could have been assembled using only document sources. The necessity of oral history approach also indicates how much Congo has lost in the disorganization of government over the period; the normal archives of a functioning government are not to be had. This is a chilling story of how eastern Congo in the ...more
Ettore1207
Aug 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Se qualcuno mi consigliasse un libro di 750 pagine, lo guarderei storto. Se poi mi dicesse che quel libro riguarda la storia del Congo, forse lo schernirei
Ed invece Congo, che ho iniziato per pura curiosità ed intimorito, per non dire prevenuto, dalla la lunghezza (in effetti le pagine sono "solo" 650, le restanti sono note sule fonti ed una vasta bibliografia), mi ha appassionato fin dalla introduzione e mi ha tenuto ottima compagnia per alcuni giorni.
L'autore è uno scrittore, storico e archeo
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Ratratrat
Jan 25, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018, storia
Non l'ho ancora finito, ma mi conferma la buona opinione di chi me lo aveva suggerito. Il Congo dai primissimi tempi ( rapido excursus) a quelli coloniali ( su cui tanto si è scritto anche dopo un'inchiesta e qualche romanzo di fama) e poi quello indipendente che mi evoca nomi noti anche se all'epoca ne leggevo ma non seguivo i dettagli: Lumumba ( che ci fa una pessima figura di arruffapopoli), Tschombé che noi trovavamo scritto Ciombè, Mobutu... direi che il Congo libero almeno all'inizio non s ...more
Louisa
If you are looking for an honest account of what happened in Congo Free State under the rule of king Leopold II, read Adam Hochschild's book instead, read Conan Doyle's The Crime of the Congo, read Twain's King Leopold's Soliloquy with excerpts of the Casement Report. I don't know if Van Reybrouck's version of the history of Congo is deliberately misleading or just naive, but there are many sentences here that made me cringe.
Dirk Baranek
Jul 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geschichte
Tolles Buch! Weiterer Versuch, eine neuen Geschichtsschreibung zu entwickeln. Weg von der hochwissenschaftlichen Historikeranalyse, hin zu einem journalistischerem Ansatz. Vielleicht kann man es Geschichtsreportage nennen: faktensicher, das historische Rüstzeug beherrschend, aber alles persönlicher, anschaulicher erzählen. Und immer wieder Ausflüge in die Oral History wagen, das Große Ganze auf einzelne Personen runterbrechen. Das wird hier nahezu perfekt durchexerziert.
Das Objekt an sich, das L
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Subvert
Ben dit boek begonnen te lezen in December 2010. Ik heb het toendertijd niet helemaal uitgelezen aangezien ik in de tussentijd een jaar naar Azië ben geweest en geen zin had om zo'n dik boek mee te sjouwen. Heb het afgelopen weken nu eindelijk uitgelezen.

Het is een ontzettend leesbaar boek en van Reybrouck legt op overtuigende manier uit hoe Congo betrokken is geweest in alle belangrijke gebeurtenissen in de 20ste eeuw. Wil je 20ste eeuw begrijpen? Kijk naar Congo. De geschiedenis van Congo is
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Rob
Aug 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
On completing this meticulous account of the history of a nation, my only thought was that nobody could possibly top this – van Reybrouck’s tale, now translated into English, leaves no stone unturned and throws up a huge number of new insights. Above all, any attempt to paint Congo as a territory in binary terms is exposed as lacking – so Patrice Lumumba, often portrayed as a saintly presence and deposed by the CIA is portrayed as completely ill equipped for power, the aftermath of the Rwandan g ...more
Lia
Jun 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, culture
Van Reybrouck kijkt met het oog van de archeoloog en vertrouwt wat hij waarneemt met de pen van een groot schrijver aan het papier toe. Hij ziet tegelijkertijd details en grote verbanden en weet deze helder uiteen te zetten. Hij vertaalt gebeurtenissen in de wereldgeschiedenis naar het leven van alledag van het individu en gemeenschappen en toont de samenhang van verhalen die hij hoort in de talloze gesprekken met Congolezen, hoe verschillend die ook zijn. Door de respectvolle manier waarop hij ...more
Tamara
Excellent but mysterious. An oral history as much as anything, and one that often feels almost magic realist. Did the author really conduct extensive interviews with a 126-year old man? Is Joseph Conrad's ship really to be found quietly rusting by the riverside in Kinshasa? Who knows. I would believe him - or at least, share his faith - for a chapter, and then skepticism would kick in, and then I would believe him again.

Then again, this a country that handily produces robot stoplights and indus
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J.M. Hushour
Dec 05, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Van Reybrouck is the archetypal historian-voyager whose jargon-less, civil, practical approach to his subject makes one want to go grab a beer with him somewhere. He also shines because much of his writing and research centers around sitting around grabbing beers and time from random Congolese figures, some of note in recent Congolese history, others just random joes and janes he meets about the country.
This is history as it should be written: as an encounter. The Congo is never distant, never b
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Marc
Apr 13, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: africa, congo, colonialism
Excellent read, mainly due to the balanced composition: a historical narrative interwoven with testimonies that sometimes are really captivating. Reybrouck of course depends on witnesses to make things a little more tangible, but this occasionally weakens his story, especially in the turbulent period of Kasavubu and Lumumba. Also the real character of Mobutu remained somewhat obscure, foremost in his later period. And the efforts of Van Reybrouck to give his work some literary flair, at times re ...more
Justin
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Een magnifiek werk van een onschatbare waarde, geschreven met een gouden pen. Van Reybroecks enthousiasme en passie voor het onderwerp spat van de pagina's. En dan heb ik het nog niet eens over de inhoud. De geschiedenis van Congo voelt als een drama op televisie die het tegenovergestelde van saai is; een onverzadigde urgentie viel me ten deel toen ik las over het handelen van Leopold II, de functionerende, democratische regering van een piepjong "D.R." Congo die in totaal amper tweehonderd uur ...more
Tomasz
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascynująca i niesamowita opowieść o kraju, który ma prze... ane, odkąd istnieje. Jeśli kiedykolwiek pomyślisz, że fatalnie jest ci w Polsce, poczytaj o Kongu. Ta solidna cegła, napisana świetnym, komunikatywnym stylem, przedstawia losy Konga od kolonizacji po współczesność. Świetna książka.
Senne
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Ondanks de kritiek op de authenticiteit van de bronnen en andere kleine foutjes, blijft dit een fantastisch boek dat een must read is voor wie geïnteresseerd is in de geschiedenis van Congo. Na het lezen van dit boek wordt pas duidelijk dat Congo een zeer belangrijke rol speelde in de wereldgeschiedenis. Diep onder de indruk van de manier waarop dit land keer op keer bestolen werd van zijn natuurlijke rijkdommen, en dit ten koste van de overgrote meerderheid van de bevolking. Dit door oorlog die ...more
Yves Gounin
Dec 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Le livre de David Van Reybrouck fera date. Déjà couronné par le prix AKO (le Goncourt néerlandais) et le prix Médicis de l’essai, cette histoire monumentale du Congo de la préhistoire à nos jours dépoussière l’encyclopédisme. À la différence de ces cathédrales empesées qui croulent sous leur propre poids et que personne ne lit, telles L’Histoire générale de l’Afrique éditée par l’UNESCO ou The Cambridge History of Africa, il réussit à brosser l’histoire d’un pays-continent en mobilisant tous les ...more
Grady McCallie
May 01, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The history of the Congo is far from uplifting, and includes the slave trade, brutal colonial rule, a botched transition to independence, corruption and sectionalism, authoritarian governance, ethnic infighting, rape and cannibalism as a systematic weapons of war, child soldiers, and the worst aspects of global capitalism in the extraction of rare minerals. Yet, Van Reybrouck's style and pace keeps the horror from becoming overwhelming, and even makes reading this history a pleasure. A couple as ...more
Errol Orhan
Nov 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I got into monsieur Albert's cab, three days after I had arrived in Cape Town. I had never been to Cape Town, and frankly, I had no clue where this cab would take me. My colleague knew where we were going, but he was in another cab.

As we waited for the traffic light, I decided to ask monsieur Albert where he was from. 'Congo.' 'Which part of Congo?' 'Lubumbashi.' 'Oh, Katanga.' 'Yes, Katanga. How do you know Katanga?' Actually, I knew very little about Katanga, except for what I had read in the
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Koen Van den Eeckhout
Oct 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
For someone like me, who knew virtually nothing about Congo, this book is a goldmine. Van Reybrouck manages to take the reader on a journey through more than 120 years of history, not only by giving information and numbers, but also, and mainly, by telling stories and describing personal experiences. He understands the art to summarize his thoughts whenever necessary, so that you never lose track of what's happening, despite the myriad of protagonists and places.

Unfortunately, when reaching the
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Jan-Willem
Soms word je veroverd door een boek over een onderwerp, waarvan je van te voren niet wist dat daar je interesse lag. Congo van David van Reybrouck is zo'n boek. Allereerst door de overrompelende, groteske geschiedenis van Congo. Maar ook door de vorm die Van Reybrouck kiest. Een grote nadruk op oral history, een pen die meer literair dan wetenschappelijk gestuurd lijkt te zijn.
Marieke Hendriks
Apr 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
De schrijfstijl van van Reybrouck is zeer onderhoudend. Op luchtige, maar historisch verantwoorde wijze leidt hij de lezer door de geschiedenis van Congo, beginnend bij de 'ontdekking' hiervan. Zijn verhalen zijn, naast de meer traditionele historische bronnen, met name gebaseerd op oogverslagen. Het resultaat is een historisch schrijven dat zeer goed te behappen en moeilijk weg te leggen is.
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The Reading Drago...: Congo 1 8 Sep 29, 2014 10:26PM  
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David Grégoire Van Reybrouck is a Belgian cultural historian, archaeologist and author. He writes historical fiction, literary non-fiction, novels, poetry, plays and academic texts. Moreover, he is the founder of the G1000 project in Belgium, a platform for democratic innovation and inclusive participatory politics.

He was born into a family of florists, bookbinders and artists. His father, a farme
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“Back at the Berlin Conference of 1885, it was decided that the Congo Free State was to be open to international trade. Competition between market and state still exists today, in fact more than ever. In those days the focus was solely on the purchase of raw materials, today it’s about the selling of products as well—even in a desperately poor country, there is a great deal of money to be made with the trade in little commodities like phone vouchers, bottles of soda pop, or bags of powdered milk. To win the souls of all those dispossessed, foreign companies colonize the public spaces of the destroyed country with a temerity only thinly disguised by the bright smile of slick marketing.” 1 likes
“Congo, during the first six months of its existence, would have to deal with a serious military mutiny, the massive exodus of those Belgians who had remained behind, an invasion by the Belgian army, a military intervention by the United Nations, logistical support from the Soviet Union, an extremely heated stretch of the Cold War, an unparalleled constitutional crisis, two secessions that covered a third of its territory, and, to top it all off, the imprisonment, escape, arrest, torture, and murder of its prime minister: no, absolutely no one had seen that coming.” 0 likes
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