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King Leopold's Ghost


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About the Author

ADAM HOCHSCHILD is the author of ten books. King Leopold's Ghost was a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, as was To End All Wars. His Bury the Chains was a finalist for the National Book Award and won the Los Angeles Times Book Prize and PEN USA Literary Award. He lives in Berkeley, California.


Hochschild (The Unquiet Ghost, LJ 2/15/94) provides a powerfully written, deeply researched, and acutely analyzed exposé of the European scramble for Africa. He focuses on King Leopold's reign of terror in the Belgian Congo and the unswerving efforts by human rights activists (Sir Roger Casement, E.D. Morel, and others) and the Congo Reform Association to raise awareness of the enslavement, mutilation, and murder of millions of Congolese. Hochschild's strengths lie in the fiery eloquence of his indictment of King Leopold's atrocities and his treatment of the human dimension. His account of the mutilation of Africans makes especially grim reading: "1308 severed hands were turned over to the District Commissioner in a single day." The notes and bibliography are thorough and should be of great help to anyone wanting to engage in further research. This deserves widespread reading by scholars and the general public interested in colonialism in Africa. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 5/15/98.]‘Edward G. McCormack, Univ. of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Lib., Long Beach

"An enthralling story, full of fascinating characters, intense drama, high adventure, deceitful manipulations, courageous truth-telling, and splendid moral fervor . . . 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."
--Neal Ascherson, Los Angeles Times "A vivid, novelistic narrative that makes the reader acutely aware of the magnitude of the horror perpetrated by King Leopold and his minions."
--The New York Times "
King Leopold's Ghost
is a remarkable achievement, hugely satisfying on many levels. It overwhelmed me in the way Heart of Darkness did when I first read it--and for precisely the same reasons: as a revelation of the horror that had been hidden in the Congo."
--Paul Theroux "Carefully researched and vigorously told, King Leopold's Ghost does what good history always does--expands the memory of the human race."
--The Houston Chronicle

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. Agent: Georges Borchardt. First serial rights to American Scholar. Author tour. (Sept.)

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