King Leopold's Ghost A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

ISBN-10: 0618001905
ISBN-13: 9780618001903
Edition: 1999
Authors: Adam Hochschild
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Description: In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber,  More...

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Book details

List price: $15.95
Copyright year: 1999
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company
Publication date: 9/3/1999
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 400
Size: 6.00" wide x 8.75" long x 1.00" tall
Weight: 1.034
Language: English

In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated. King Leopold's Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust. Adam Hochschild brings this largely untold story alive with the wit and skill of a Barbara Tuchman. Like her, he knows that history often provides a far richer cast of characters than any novelist could invent. Chief among them is Edmund Morel, a young British shipping agent who went on to lead the international crusade against Leopold. Another hero of this tale, the Irish patriot Roger Casement, ended his life on a London gallows. Two courageous black Americans, George Washington Williams and William Sheppard, risked much to bring evidence of the Congo atrocities to the outside world. Sailing into the middle of the story was a young Congo River steamboat officer named Joseph Conrad. And looming above them all, the duplicitous billionaire King Leopold II. With great power and compassion, King Leopold's Ghost will brand the tragedy of the Congo--too long forgotten--onto the conscience of the West.

Adam Hochschild was born in New York City in 1942. As a college student, he spent a summer working on an anti-government newspaper in South Africa and worked briefly as a civil rights worker in Mississippi in 1964. He began his journalism career as a reporter at the San Francisco Chronicle. Then he worked for ten years as a magazine editor and writer, at Ramparts and Mother Jones, which he co-founded. He has also written for The New Yorker, Harper's Magazine, The New York Review of Books, The New York Times Magazine, and The Nation. His first book, Half the Way Home: A Memoir of Father and Son, was published in 1986. His other books include The Mirror at Midnight: A South African Journey; The Unquiet Ghost: Russians Remember Stalin; Finding the Trapdoor: Essays, Portraits, Travels; King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa; Bury the Chains: Prophets and Rebels in the Fight to Free an Empire's Slaves; and To End All Wars: A Story of Loyalty and Rebellion, 1914-1918. He teaches writing at the Graduate School of Journalism at the University of California, Berkeley.

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