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Read Ì King Leopold's Ghost ê PDF, eBook or Kindle ePUB free ò 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 brutaNg 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. The best non fiction book I've ever read The hyphenated title on the book is a story of greed terror and heroism in colonial Africa and that sums it up very well Such horrific treatment including brutal maiming and killing of workers including children who refused to work for King Leopold's rubber plantations is a story untold for centuries and deserves this fine treatment by Adam Hochschild King Leopold of Belgium was an unrepentant monster

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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 Congo in Leopold’s mind was not the one of starving porters raped hostages emaciated rubber slaves and severed hands It was the empire of his dreams with gigantic trees exotic animals and inhabitants grateful for his wise rule Instead of going there Leopold brought the Congo—that Congo the theatrical production of his imagination—to himself” King Leopold IIBelgium was simply not big enough for the future king ”When he thought about the throne that would be his he was openly exasperated ‘Petit pays petits gens’ small country small people he once said of Belgium” He watched as countries like Holland Great Britain France Portugal Spain Italy and Germany were colonizing Africa and other exotic isles and becoming rich off the plunder In the 1880s he saw his chance and claimed the lands of the Congo He did this without any kind of referandum from his people He knew what was best for Belgium ”Most Belgians had paid little attention to their king’s flurry of African diplomacy but once it was over they began to realize with surprise that his new colony was bigger than England France Germany Spain and Italy combined It was one thirteenth of the African continent than seventy six times the size of Belgium itself”They had no idea the level of atrocities that would be perpetrated in the name of Belgium I’ve always thought of Leopold II as a 2nd tier genocidal maniac I’d always reserved the 1st tier for Adolf Hitler and Joseph Stalin but after reading this book and hearing the estimated number 10 million associated with the deaths in the Congo I have officially moved Leopold II to the 1st tier genocidal maniac So why don’t we know about Leopold II Why don’t we see him as the genocidal maniac that we associate with the names Hitler and Stalin Could it be because he was killing black people Another factor is the way Leopold worked tirelessly to convince people he was a great humanitarian He found people who would help support him in this endeavor and paid them to write reports that were favorable to his reputation in Africa He worked eually tirelessly to suash those who came back from the Congo with the lists of atrocities they had witnessed while in Africa The biggest thorn in Leopold’s voluminous backside turned out to be a British shipping clerk named Edmund Morel who noticed the amount of goods coming from the Congo that were being traded or sold at prices that would not support a living wage in the Congo The math did not add up The only way that Leopold could be selling goods this cheaply was if they were being acuired through slave labor Morel went on to found a paper that continued to expose Leopold’s criminal activities in the Congo Morel hammered away at him for the rest of his life Additionally Roger Casement was an Irish man who risked life and limb to obtain evidence that directly refuted the rosy picture that Leopold was selling Europe There were also two American black men George Washington Williams and William Sheppard who did everything they could to expose Leopold’s monstrosities to the world There were many other people who tried their best to stop what was happening unchecked in the CongoThe problem was that Europe and the United States wanted to believe Leopold The most famous book of celebrated author Joseph Conrad Heart of Darkness was set in the real Leopold’s Congo The famous character of Kurtz was based on a man Conrad met in the Congo Should I chase butterflies today or should I lob off a few heads ”One prototype for Conrad’s Mr Kurtz Léon Rom This swashbuckling officer was known for displaying a row of severed African heads around his garden He also wrote a book on African customs painted portraits and landscapes and collected butterflies”Léon Rom was a civilized well educated man So how does decorating your garden with severed African heads euate with butterfly collecting and painting portraits and landscapes Leopold flooded the Congo with the right sort of men Mercenaries capable of chopping off hands raping uncooperating women murdering men women and children and lashing men who didn’t bring enough rubber back from the jungle with ”the chicotte—a whip of raw sun dried hippopotamus hide cut into a long sharp edged corkscrew strip”The strip this would cut off a man’s back buttock and legs would leave deep permanent scars if the man was lucky or in many cases unlucky enough to live shudderWhite men felt free of all law in the Congo “We have liberty independence and life with wide horizons Here you are free and not a mere slave of society Here one is everything” So to live as free as one would like one must enslave others These men had harems money and status something they could never achieve working as clerks or plumbers in Europe In the Congo they were warlords They killed so many Congolese that they feared not having enough slaves to maintain the plundering of the Congo “‘We run the risk of someday seeing our native population collapse and disappear’ fretfully declared the permanent committee of the National Colonial Congress of Belgium that year ‘So that we will find ourselves confronted with a kind of desert’” It reminds me of hunters who hunted species to extinction and then bemoaned the fact that they couldn’t hunt those animals any At no point did they think to themselves maybe we are killing these animals faster than they can reproduce So why cut off the hands It seems counterproductive when you need these men to work Every bullet had to be accounted for with Leopold’s mercenaries so if a man used a bullet to kill game he had to have an African hand to account for that bullet Every African hand was then turned in for a reward It is too sick to comprehendEvery country in Africa has tales of horror and outrage at the hands of European colonizers I do believe that what happened in the Congo was by far the worst atrocities on a native population in Africa The sad part of it is that most of us don’t know anything about it I knew some but I didn’t know enough The “cake” that was Africa was cut up into portions and served to the white European countries as casually as if they were discussing the fates of Africans at a garden party with their children playing at their feet and their wives bringing them slices of the Congo Nigeria Kenya Algeria South Africa and Senegal with which they could gorge themselves Adam Hochschild had a difficult time getting this book published It was as if the ghost of Leopold was still haunting and suppressing the truth This is a brilliant and important book that exposes the truth of the Congo and the complicity which every “civilized” country played in allowing such atrocities to occur If you wish to see of my most recent book and movie reviews visit also have a Facebook blogger page at

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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