Sven Lindqvist is one of our most original writers on race, colonialism, and genocide, and his signature approach—uniting travelogues with powerful acts of historical excavation—renders his books devastating and unforgettable.
Now, for the first time, Lindqvist's most beloved works are available in one beautiful and affordable volume with a new introduction by Adam Hochschild. The Dead Do Not Die includes the full unabridged text of "Exterminate All the Brutes", called "a book of stunning range and near genius" by David Levering Lewis. In this work, Lindqvist uses Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness as a point of departure for a haunting tour through the colonial past, retracing the steps of Europeans in Africa from the late eighteenth century onward and thus exposing the roots of genocide via his own journey through the Saharan desert.
The full text of Terra Nullius is also included, for which Lindqvist traveled 7,000 miles through Australia in search of the lands the British had claimed as their own because it was inhabited by "lower races," the native Aborigines—nearly nine-tenths of whom were annihilated by whites. The shocking story of how "no man's land" became the province of the white man was called "the most original work on Australia and its treatment of Aboriginals I have ever read . . . marvelous" by Phillip Knightley, author of Australia.
Partly disguised as travelogues, these two polemics from Swedish author Lindqvist (A History of Bombing) argue that our revulsion at contemporary atrocities disguises an undeserved sense of moral superiority. As he points out, our ancestors largely approved the slaughter of "inferior" races during centuries of European (and American) imperialism, so subsequent genocides from the Holocaust to Rwanda followed naturally. In "Exterminate All the Brutes," Lindqvist alternates between a bus trip across the Sahara and a painful history of colonial butchery in 19th-century Africa in which the Britons participated with no less enthusiasm than the Germans, Belgians, and French. In the second piece, Lindqvist travels in Australia, once referred to as "Terra Nullius": Latin for "no one's land," but also a region populated by people considered by the Europeans as too subhuman to deserve consideration. Those that abhor colonialism but insist we must not cry over spilt milk will recoil at Australia's vicious treatment of its aboriginal population. It's not an easy work to stomach, and even the most jaded readers will squirm at the avalanche of brutality justified by pious rhetoric from such figures as Churchill and Darwin who agreed that nature's laws doomed "inferior races". Illus.