King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa (Picador Classic Book 93)
With an introduction by award-winning novelist Barbara Kingsolver
In the late nineteenth century, when the great powers in Europe were tearing Africa apart and seizing ownership of land for themselves, King Leopold of Belgium took hold of the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. In his devastatingly barbarous colonization of this area, Leopold...more
King Leopold II
Belgium was simply not big enough for the future king. When he thought about the throne that would be his, he was openly ...more
Exterminate all the brutes! Kurtz
A very readable summary of one of the first real international human rights campaigns, a campaign focussed on that vast slab of central Africa once owned, not by Belgium, but personally by the Belgian King. The Congo Free State was a handy microcosm of colonialism in its most extreme and polarised form: political control subsumed into corporate control, natural resources removed wholesale, local peoples dispossessed of their lands, their freedom, their lives. To ...more
I don't know much about colonialism. This book was a great way to get a sense of it and its exploitative evils and how imperialistic capitalism can bring out the absolute worst in human beings. The cool thing ...more
The atrocities committed in the Belgian Congo were nothing short of diabolical. And yet, shockingly, one of the worst genocides of the twentieth century remains relatively unheard of.
I am a big fan of Adam Hochschild; he makes you feel like you're reading a novel rather than a ...more
This book is the most compelling history on colonial Africa Ive ever read. Its on par with The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.
Furthermore, unlike many other great predators of history, from Genghis Khan to the Spanish conquistadors, King Leopold II never saw a drop of blood spilled in anger. He never set foot in the Congo. There is something very modern about that, too, as there is about the bomber pilot in the stratosphere, above the clouds, who ...more
Looking back on this book after an interval of some years has reminded me of where I wish I could have done more. My greatest frustration lay in how hard it was to portray individual Africans as full-fledged actors in this story. Historians often face such difficulties, since the written record from colonizers, the rich, and the powerful is always more plentiful than it is ...more
The book (which I listened to as an audio) is still a bit too long and spends too much time on narrow topics -- and engages in a bit of hagiography of E.D. Morel and Roger Casement. In other words, the author is trying to appeal to the pathos in the reader, where more detachment would have made for ...more
It reveals the massive abuse of the Congo from the very day the Belgian King Leopold II laid his eyes on it and till the end of colonial days.
You may ask why we cannot let bygone be bygones, why we cannot get out of our mind the pictures of severed hands and heads, flogging, rape and murder.
You may ask why treating other human beings like animals or at best like second-class citizens in the past should not just be buried as something we have dealt with ...more
This book also makes clear why King Leopold II of Belgium belongs right up there with Hitler, Stalin, Mao and Pol Pot as one of the greatest mass murderers in history. Leopold was way ahead of his time when it came to public relations and propaganda and some people, to this very day, still believe that ...more
It's even more gratifying to find that Hochschild's book is well-written, too; it's fast, gripping and clearly laid out. Rarely, I read a book that's so important and ...more
|Play Book Tag: King Leopold's Ghost-4 stars||5||11||15 hours, 39 min ago|
|Around the World ...: Discussion for King Leopold's Ghost||5||44||Jul 24, 2019 04:59AM|
|Great African Reads: Hochschild: King Leopold's Ghost | DRC (Tour D'Afrique) first read: Mar 2010||129||170||Oct 15, 2018 06:49PM|
|Great African Reads: Mar/April 2018 | King Leopold's Ghost, by Adam Hochschild SPOILERS ALLOWED||13||45||Apr 11, 2018 02:27PM|
|Great African Reads: Mar/April 2018 | King Leopold's Ghost, by Adam Hochschild NO SPOILERS||9||34||Apr 05, 2018 07:06AM|
|Books On Tap: Just a personal recommendation||1||23||Feb 23, 2016 05:37PM|
|Black Coffee: Book Blast: King Leopold's Ghost||3||28||Aug 03, 2014 03:32PM|
It was easy to see the distinctive brilliance that so entranced Picasso and his colleagues at their first encounter with this art at an exhibit in Paris in 1907. In these central African sculptures some body parts are exaggerated, some shrunken; eyes project, cheeks sink, mouths disappear, torsos become elongated; eye sockets expand to cover almost the entire face; the human face and figure are broken apart and formed again in new ways and proportions that had previously lain beyond sight of traditional European realism.
The art sprang from cultures that had, among other things, a looser sense than Islam or Christianity of the boundaries between our world and the next, as well as those between the world of humans and the world of beasts. Among the Bolia people of the Congo, for example, a king was chosen by a council of elders; by ancestors, who appeared to him in a dream; and finally by wild animals, who signaled their assent by roaring during a night when the royal candidate was left at a particular spot in the rain forest. Perhaps it was the fluidity of these boundaries that granted central Africa's artists a freedom those in Europe had not yet discovered. ”