Anne's Reviews > King Leopold's Ghost

King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild
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's review
Jan 04, 2012

liked it

A really interesting and well-written history of colonization in the current DRC. Trying to tell the untold story is always difficult, never mind when the majority of available records paint a very biased view of the situation. In this case, I suppose both sides had published records, but one had much better PR savvy and that's skewed the historiography quite a bit.

It's interesting...I know a few people who have worked in the DRC, and from their stories about what a shit show it is there, it makes sense that the story behind it is one of egoism, manipulation, and greed. Yet to have the majority be at the hands of one man carefully using celebrities of the day to advance his purposes is indeed stranger than fiction.

There are two ideas presented toward the end of the book that are not really followed up on. The first one is basically that the atrocities committed in Belgian Congo were no different in scope than in other rubber-producing areas. The main difference was that Belgian Congo had much more rubber they could produce than the adjacent colonies. This is something that I really would have liked to read more about, or seen data or other sorts of extrapolations. I think that would have been more interesting than just having the idea presented in a few pages. The other idea was that the human rights campaign against the acts being committed in Belgian Congo declared victory just as rubber plantations were beginning production, therefore decreasing the necessity of extremely brutal tactics to collect similar quantities of rubber. This would also have been a nice concept to elaborate on, especially comparing the acute shock of the tactics in early Belgian Congo to the lower scale but longer term brutality faced by the Congolese for the following century.

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