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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 haunti The book was written 20 years ago and yet it is so eye opening The theme has not been covered enough My idea of atrocities committed in the Congo in the second half of the 19th century were than basic and narrowed to Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness which I read and now should re read but didn’t take too much interest in Conrad’s time in the Congo which was a mistake Author who undertakes a most difficult task to write about crimes against humanities term used for the first time by one of the 19th century journalist with regard to the Congo pays respect to all the victims of one’s madness greed cruelty indifference or hatred And I read this book or rather listened to it with precise the same intention There are several characters central to the unravelling the crimes that must be mentioned William Sheppard George Williams ED Morel and Roger Casement They were the first to report openly on the cruelty towards the indigenous tribes and campaign against it Ordinary people and yet extraordinary in those days to speak and write openly of what they witnessed I can do nothing than pay respect to the millions of victims who happened to live in the area rich in resources exploited to the full by white men This book is both overwhelming and depressing however it is one that should be read along with all the others that cover any crime against human beingsPS Writing these few sentences was not easy for me as I found this book too upsetting and painful to comment onThank you to my GR Friends who drew my attention to this book

doc King Leopold's Ghost

King Leopold's GhostG 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 We This is a difficult book to review because I am still thinking about it and probably will for some time Of course I knew about King Leopold and his cruelty in the Congo but nothing to this extent The story Hochschild tells is one that left me consistently shocked disgusted and deeply saddened and yet this is a book I would recommend to just about anyone It strikes me again and again how cruel and vicious people can be to those they view as the other to those they view as someone less than themselves or even less than human based on their skin color religious differences or any manner of means by which to conjure prejudice and hatred We see it in the news every day and though it feels overwhelming at the moment due to the nature of modern media I venture to say it has always been this way us pitted against them with the result of violence That being said I want to inject a note of hope here as well just as Hochschild does in his book There are always too those that recognize this injustice who are willing to speak up and to risk their own safety and peace to fight for those who cannot King Leopold's Ghost is a book I won't be uick to forget and it makes me all the aware of how much I do not know about this world and how much is not taught in schools and it is up to us to learn if we want to try to understand the world and humanity or a lack thereof This is a bit of a ramble but hopefully I am getting across how impactful this book is and how worth the readFind reviews and bookish fun at

Adam Hochschild Õ King Leopold's Ghost doc

read kindle ✓ King Leopold's Ghost Ö Paperback Õ adam hochschild ✓ 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 Ng 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 shippin This work of popular history does a great job of bringing to life the story of King Leopold of Belgium’s orchestration of a private empire in the Congo near the end of the 19th century His greed driven campaign presaged the 20th century shenanigans with its use of political intrigue bribery media manipulation and lies The popular explorer Henry Morton Stanley was wooed and appropriated to make his dream become a reality Its economic success was founded on the institutionalization of slave labor terrorism and intimidation of both the population and participants long before Stalin and Hitler adopted such methods In one way the tale represents a special case of evil genius; in another way it is a case study of approaches broadly common to European colonialism in Africa When the atrocities behind Leopold’s money machine for ivory and rubber were first recognized they sparked a brilliant protest movement led by two notable Englishmen Hochschild makes their story is as interesting as that of Leopold and Stanley’s Belgium was late to the feeding frenzy of carving up Africa and Leopold developed a gnawing hunger for a piece of the pie Stanley’s forays through central Africa brought Leopold’s attention to the vast area of the Congo River basin an area the size of India or much of Europe As an example of Hochschild’s knack of characterization check out his profile of Stanley at the point of his first meeting of Leopold at age 37 The ne’er do well naval deserter of a mere thirteen years earlier was now a best selling author recognized as one of the greatest of living explorers His stern mustachioed face appeared in magazines everywhere beneath a Stanley Cap his own invention which in a way summed up Stanley’s personality one part titan of rugged force and mountain moving confidence; the other a vulnerable illegitimate son of the working class anxiously struggling for the approval of the powerful In photographs each part seems visible the explorer’s eyes carry both a fierce determination and a woundednessStanley’s job over a five year period was to establish a transportation system and treaties with the populace that gave Leopold carte blanche His well paid tasks included building a road past the 200 plus miles of falls in the coastal segment of the river hauling a disassembled steamship to the navigable portion and the establishment of many trading postsmilitary bases along its 1000 mile main course of the Congo River Above all he was to buy with goods like clothes and alcohol written deals with all the chiefs and village leaders along the way that handed over a trading monopoly to Leopold under the guise of his benign sounding “International Association of the Congo” The illiterate chiefs couldn’t have known what they were signing “The treaties must be as brief as possible” Leopold ordered “and in a couple of articles must grant us everything” Their text promises that the signers would freely of their own accord for themselves and their heirs and successors for ever give up to the said Association the sovereignity and all sovereign and governing rights to all their territories and to assist by labor or otherwise any works improvements or expeditions which the said Association shall cause any time to be carried out in any part of these territories All roads and waterways running through this country the right of collecting tolls on the same and all game fishing mining and forest rights are to be the absolute property of the said Association”By labor or otherwise Stanley’s pieces of cloth bought not just land but manpower It was an even worse trade than the Indians made for ManhattanThe territory included at least 200 different ethnic groups speaking than 400 languages and dialects ranging from “citizens of large organizationally sophisticated kingdoms to the Pygmies of the Ituri rain forest who lived in small bands with no chiefs and no formal structure of government” Through intermediary companies which Leopold held at least half the shares the men of the tribes were forced into labor as porters food producers and gatherers of ivory and later rubber Force was effected by making a hostage of wives children or chiefs as hostages and intimidation through razing of villages chopping off of children’s hands or public whippings of those who did not make their uotas A lot of this dirty work was carried out be a cadre of black people controlled by their own system of carrots and sticks Although other European colonies used these practices Leopold’s intermediaries advanced their use on an unprecedented scale What was especially outrageous was that the takeover of the Congo was sold to world under the humanitarian guise of eradicating the slave trade and civilizing the savages with the light of Christianity Some of this duplicity was captured by Conrad in his “Heart of Darkness” The concept that the evil incarnate of the company agent Kurz was a fictional parable is dismissed by Hochschild who comes up with several candidates for realistic models that Conrad could have met or learned of during his employment on a river steamerIn the absence of official national military to back up his claim to the Congo Leopold’s ability to get a consensus of powerful countries to accept his new “Congo Free State” was his next amazing accomplishment It started with getting the US Congress to recognize it as a sort of protectorate a coup based on bribery harnessing missionary groups and a massive lobbying campaign Playing Germany France and England against each other at a conference in Berlin was the second phase; ie the pretension of a free trade region under harmless Belgian hands was better than the threat of takeover by a powerful nation Early heroes of this sad tale include two black Americans George Washington Williams an ex Union soldier in the Civil War journalist and budding historian showed up in the Congo in 1890 to explore the potential for the region as a place for American blacks to emigrate to His investigations led him to the first media expose of the true situation His open letter to Leopold called a spade a spade the trading sites were labeled “piratical buccaneering posts” that operated chain gangs and village burnings and the conclusion was that “your Majesty’s government is engaged in the slave trade wholesale and retail” He got the letter published in newspapers and a long report disseminated; it had less impact than it might have if he hadn’t died soon thereafter from TB The contributions of the black missionary William Henry Sheppard as a brave witness to the atrocities continued into the later phase of whistle blowingA few years later a Liverpool shipping administrator EP Morel developed into a unlikely fly in the ointment for dear Leopold In a leap of logic he inferred from all the goods shipped on his ships out of the Congo compared to primarily weapons and ammunition sent on returning trips that the colony had to be founded on slavery Who could have guessed that this apolitical man would feel such outrage and be driven to masterful such effective skills in marshaling information journalistic and speaking presentation shaping his message to his audience and use of celebrities in fund raising A powerful ally was enlisted in the form of a respected diplomat Roger Casement the first British consul to the Congo Free State His own investigations brought a lot of documentation and recorded testimony to the advocacy efforts The avalanche of public outcry they raised would rival that of the anti slavery campaign of decades before and presage some of the successful strategies of advocacy groups in present modern era Photographs of Congolese in chains and of individuals with their hands cut off as punishment made good fuel for the fire A book by Arthur Conan Doyle and satirical pamphlet roasting Leopold by Mark Twain are examples that amplified the impact of Morel and Casement's workEventually Leopold was forced to transfer his colony into Belgian state control But not before a week of burning all official records of the reign of terror in Belgium and Africa Hochschild credits Morel for the success but he takes pains to educate the reader how the big picture of brutal exploitation of the people of the Congo did not change He also highlights the blindness of Morel to the possibility of self rule in the Congo and to the adverse impacts of British excesses in its own colonies The CIA led assassination of the democratically