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 stole its rubber and ivory, pummelled its people and set up a ruthless regime that would reduce the population by half. . While he did all this, he carefully constructed an image of himself as a deeply feeling humanitarian. Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize in 1999, King Leopold’s Ghost is the true and haunting account of this man’s brutal regime and its lasting effect on a ruined nation. It is also the inspiring and deeply moving account of a handful of missionaries and other idealists who travelled to Africa and unwittingly found themselves in the middle of a gruesome holocaust. Instead of turning away, these brave few chose to stand up against Leopold. Adam Hochschild brings life to this largely untold story and, crucially, casts blame on those responsible for this atrocity.
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Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize, King Leopold’s Ghost is the true and haunting account of Leopold's brutal regime and its lasting effect on a ruined nation. 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 stole its rubber and ivory, pummelled its people and set up a ruthless regime that would reduce the population by half. While he did all this, he carefully constructed an image of himself as a deeply feeling humanitarian. King Leopold's Ghost is the inspiring and deeply moving account of a handful of missionaries and other idealists who travelled to Africa and unwittingly found themselves in the middle of a gruesome holocaust. Instead of turning away, these brave few chose to stand up against Leopold. Adam Hochschild brings life to this largely untold story and, crucially, casts blame on those responsible for this atrocity. 'All the tension and drama that one would expect in a good novel' - Robert Harris, author of Fatherland
"An enthralling story . . . A work of history that reads like a novel." — Christian Science Monitor “As Hochschild’s brilliant book demonstrates, the great Congo scandal prefigured our own times . . . This book must be read and reread.” — Los Angeles Times Book Review In the late nineteenth century, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium carried out a brutal plundering of the territory surrounding the Congo River. Ultimately slashing the area’s population by ten million, he still managed to shrewdly cultivate his reputation as a great humanitarian. A tale far richer than any novelist could invent, King Leopold’s Ghost is the horrifying account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who defied Leopold: African rebel leaders who fought against hopeless odds and a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure but unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust and participants in the twentieth century’s first great human rights movement. A National Book Critics Circle Award Finalist A New York Times Notable Book
A dramatic intellectual biography of Victorian jurist Travers Twiss, who provided the legal justification for the creation of the brutal Congo Free State Eminent jurist, Oxford professor, advocate to the Archbishop of Canterbury, Travers Twiss (1809–1897) was a model establishment figure in Victorian Britain, and a close collaborator of Prince Metternich, the architect of the Concert of Europe. Yet Twiss’s life was defined by two events that threatened to undermine the order that he had so stoutly defended: a notorious social scandal and the creation of the Congo Free State. In King Leopold’s Ghostwriter, Andrew Fitzmaurice tells the incredible story of a man who, driven by personal events that transformed him from a reactionary to a reformer, rewrote and liberalised international law—yet did so in service of the most brutal regime of the colonial era. In an elaborate deception, Twiss and Pharaïlde van Lynseele, a Belgian prostitute, sought to reinvent her as a woman of suitably noble birth to be his wife. Their subterfuge collapsed when another former client publicly denounced van Lynseele. Disgraced, Twiss resigned his offices and the couple fled to Switzerland. But this failure set the stage for a second, successful act of re-creation. Twiss found new employment as the intellectual driving force of King Leopold of Belgium’s efforts to have the Congo recognised as a new state under his personal authority. Drawing on extensive new archival research, King Leopold’s Ghostwriter recounts Twiss’s story as never before, including how his creation of a new legal personhood for the Congo was intimately related to the earlier invention of a new legal personhood for his wife. Combining gripping biography and penetrating intellectual history, King Leopold’s Ghostwriter uncovers a dramatic, ambiguous life that has had lasting influence on international law.
Dear, dear, when the soft-hearts get hold of thing like that missionary's contribution they completely lose their tranquility they speak profanely and reproach Heaven for allowing such a find to live. Meaning me . They think it irregular. They go shuddering around, brooding over the reduction of that Congo population from 25,000,000 to 15,000,000 in the twenty years of my administration; then they burst out and call me the King with Ten Million Murders on his Soul. They call me a 'record'. - From King Leopold's Soliloquy
From noted short story writer Nisi Shawl comes a brilliant alternate-history novel set in the Belgian Congo. What if the African natives developed steam power ahead of their colonial oppressors? What might have come of Belgium's disastrous colonization of the Congo if the native populations had learned about steam technology a bit earlier? Fabian Socialists from Great Britain join forces with African-American missionaries to purchase land from the Belgian Congo's "owner," King Leopold II. This land, named Everfair, is set aside as a safe haven, an imaginary Utopia for native populations of the Congo as well as escaped slaves returning from America and other places where African natives were being mistreated. Shawl's speculative masterpiece manages to turn one of the worst human rights disasters on record into a marvelous and exciting exploration of the possibilities inherent in a turn of history. Everfair is told from a multiplicity of voices: Africans, Europeans, East Asians, and African Americans in complex relationships with one another, in a compelling range of voices that have historically been silenced. Everfair is not only a beautiful book but an educational and inspiring one that will give the reader new insight into an often ignored period of history. At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.
A "tremendous," "intrepid" history of the devastating war in the heart of Africa's Congo, with first-hand accounts of the continent's worst conflict in modern times. At the heart of Africa is the Congo, a country the size of Western Europe, bordering nine other nations, that since 1996 has been wracked by a brutal war in which millions have died. In Dancing in the Glory of Monsters, renowned political activist and researcher Jason K. Stearns has written a compelling and deeply-reported narrative of how Congo became a failed state that collapsed into a war of retaliatory massacres. Stearns brilliantly describes the key perpetrators, many of whom he met personally, and highlights the nature of the political system that brought these people to power, as well as the moral decisions with which the war confronted them. Now updated with a new introduction, Dancing in the Glory of Monsters tells the full story of Africa's Great War.