Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in the” as Want to Read:
In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the Brink of Disaster in the
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-10)
Rating details
Sort: Default
|
Filter
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
...more
Lobstergirl
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
AC
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
...more
Ensiform
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
Brian
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
...more
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
...more
Michael
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
Yvonne
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?
GoldGato
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
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa
  • The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa
  • Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa
  • Africa's World War: Congo, the Rwandan Genocide, and the Making of a Continental Catastrophe
  • Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles
  • Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya
  • Facing the Congo: A Modern-Day Journey into the Heart of Darkness
  • Africa: A Biography of the Continent
  • Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the Cold War in a Hot Zone
  • The Zanzibar Chest
  • The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence
  • Emma's War
  • No Mercy: A Journey to the Heart of the Congo (Vintage Departures)
  • The Scramble for Africa: The White Man's Conquest of the Dark Continent from 1876 to 1912
  • Another Day of Life
  • Season of Blood: A Rwandan Journey
  • All Things Must Fight to Live: Stories of War and Deliverance in Congo
  • Tropical Gangsters: One Man's Experience with Development and Decadence in Deepest Africa
15507
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
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
More quotes…