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In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in the

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,230 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Known as "the Leopard," the president of Zaire for thirty-two years, Mobutu Sese Seko, showed all the cunning of his namesake -- seducing Western powers, buying up the opposition, and dominating his people with a devastating combination of brutality and charm. While the population was pauperized, he plundered the country's copper and diamond resources, downing pink champag ...more
ebook, 368 pages
Published January 30th 2007 by HarperCollins Publishers (first published 2000)
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Jacob Overmark
I have never been to Congo, or Zaire. It is one of the countries on the African continent I, despite all my curiosity and lust for adventure, will probably never experience.

Nearly 150 years have gone by since “The Congo Free State” was established. 150 years of terror, divide and rule governance and kleptocracy, internal wars and closed eyes to Hutu/Tutsi conflicts, letting the genocides happen.
From colonialism to relative freedom – one bad ruler was exchanged for another.

Painstakingly depressi
Jul 16, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: John Galliano
Recommended to Lobstergirl by: John Kay
As a foreign correspondent stationed in Zaire/Congo, Michela Wrong witnessed the strangeness and tragedy of Mobutu Sese Seko's gangster dictatorship up close. For three decades of kleptocracy, Bretton Woods (the World Bank and the IMF) didn't just look the other way - they acquiesced in Mobutu's corruption, allowing him more than $3 million per month for his "presidential endowment:" personal security, an entourage, and travel expenses. Bretton Woods kept doing business with Zaire even after Mob ...more
Stephen Witt
May 13, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As a candidate for the past century's worst country it has no parallels. In order you've got: pillage, rape, genocide, more rape, CIA-sponsored political assassinations, a brutal dictatorship, the world's first genuine "kleptocracy", corruption on a grand and almost immortal scale, bad interior decorating, a surfeit of Louis Vutton luggage, hunger, AIDS, bankruptcy, civil war, more genocide, more civil war, and even more rape. There is even a fucking decaying nuclear reactor there, if you can be ...more
Dec 25, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found the first half of this book to be riveting. An analysis of the historical background to the Congo, Leopold, the rise of Mobutu, and a fascinating analysis of the anatomy simply of a dictatorship, but of the particular form of kleptocracy that Mobutu pioneered.

The second half describes different sectors of the society, economic, mining, the hyper-inflation, the abysmal condition of infrastructure of all sorts from roads to airports to hospitals — much of which was the result of the tota
Dec 22, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, africa
Wrong, a journalist, documents the reign and fall of Mobutu, head of Zaire for thirty years, and his influence upon the country’s fortunes. It’s a tale of tragicomic proportions, with all the requisite details. From the gold taps in the bathrooms of the president’s palace to the hangar-sized lobby of the never-used greeting area of the mammoth presidential retreat, Mobuto lived and stole like a king. Meanwhile the CIA, World Bank, IMF and other Western agencies poured money into Zaire’s coffers ...more
Mar 16, 2008 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Ms. Wrong is a talented journalist and here she's written a solid obituary to the Mobutu era with some real-time observations on the brief and tumultuous reign of Mzee Laurent Kabila. The entire story of post-colonial DR Congo/Zaire is painted as outlandish and foolhardy with brushes of acerbic irony.

The book brought together several pieces of the puzzle for me and several times provoked an 'aha' out loud as I made connections to the life I observe daily in present-day DR Congo.

Footsteps is well
Jon Mountjoy
Aug 20, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful historical account of the life of Mobutu Sese Seko, dictator of Congo (Zaire). It's very readable, and comes across as a balanced account of the man and the historical events surrounding his rise to power.

It also provides a lot of insight into how such a kleptocracy can come about: support from the west: CIA, IMF, World Bank, European governments etc. etc. It's their corruption that undoubtedly aided his regime, and which probably account for similar situations in Africa - Mugabe co
This is a richly detailed account of Zaire (aka Congo) under Mobutu. It's chock full of amusing anecdotes and evdence of the corruption that has permeated every level of Zaire's society. It lucidly explains how Mobutu's kleptocracy and the "fend for yourself" culture has decimated a country that is rich in natural resources. It also outlines the hypocrisy of Western nations that used Zaire as a pawn during the Cold War. I enjoyed reading this book, and yet....there is something missing. The auth ...more
Oct 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
There are many highlights and quotes in this book, with echoes to my country too. Kleptocracy is an illness in Africa, that we need to find solutions to. If we have hope of leaving a good legacy to our grandchildren.

With this in mind I loved this: Failing to understand the reasons behind a country's ruin makes repetition all too easy.
Could we as a generation stand up and do better for our countries?
May 05, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When the new Congo nation said goodbye to its Belgian overlords in 1960, there was enthusiasm and hope in the air for the new nation. The horrid times of amputations and slavery were suddenly in the past and the resource-heavy Congo was going to be a big player on the African continent. The wildcard factor turned out to be a young soldier who was to turn everything upside down while showing how easy it was to slough off one foreign oppressor for one native oppressor.

The new nation's leader, Patr
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Half-Italian, half-British, Michela Wrong was born in 1961. She grew up in London and took a degree in Philosophy and Social Sciences at Jesus College, Cambridge and a diploma in journalism at Cardiff.

She joined Reuters news agency in the early 1980s and was posted as a foreign correspondent to Italy, France and Ivory Coast. She became a freelance journalist in 1994, when she moved to then-Zaire a
More about Michela Wrong...
“Spirituality can go hand-in-hand with ruthless single-mindedness when the individual is convinced his cause is just” 4 likes
“Experience has taught that politics is a game played by conmen and hypocrites.” 4 likes
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