"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
Hochschild's superb, engrossing chronicle focuses on one of the great, horrifying and nearly forgotten crimes of the century: greedy Belgian King Leopold II's rape of the Congo, the vast colony he seized as his private fiefdom in 1885. Until 1909, he used his mercenary army to force slaves into mines and rubber plantations, burn villages, mete out sadistic punishments, including dismemberment, and committ mass murder. The hero of Hochschild's highly personal, even gossipy narrative is Liverpool shipping agent Edmund Morel, who, having stumbled on evidence of Leopold's atrocities, became an investigative journalist and launched an international Congo reform movement with support from Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington and Arthur Conan Doyle. Other pivotal figures include Joseph Conrad, whose disgust with Leopold's "civilizing mission" led to Heart of Darkness; and black American journalist George Washington Williams, who wrote the first systematic indictment of Leopold's colonial regime in 1890. Hochschild (The Unquiet Ghost) documents the machinations of Leopold, who won over President Chester A. Arthur and bribed a U.S. senator to derail Congo protest resolutions. He also draws provocative parallels between Leopold's predatory one-man rule and the strongarm tactics of Mobuto Sese Seko, who ruled the successor state of Zaire. But most of all it is a story of the bestiality of one challenged by the heroism of many in an increasingly democratic world. 30 illustrations.
Customer ReviewsSee All
A history most know little to none about
This book is written with details on various perspectives of the Elian Congo. The effects of different parts of the world are shown. Horwirtz makes good connections with other history and the world today.
King Leopold's Ghost
A masterfully written book about the greed and glory many sought in Africa and the wake they left behind. A powerful powerful book!
Left Wing claptrap
Biased left wing clap trap. Sure, a Colonialism was a scourge and hateful. But this writer is a boring crusader for the left. He probably has a portrait of Stalin in his bedroom. I avoid his rantings like the plague. He is a phony historian.