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

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 49 )
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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 49 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 12, 2003

    A Face of History¿Human Rights

    A beautifully, thoughtfully written face of history of human rights and nations' hypocrisies. An in depth presentation of true heroes and villains, and human weaknesses. Introduces, well know people from varied disciplines [Arthur Conan Doyle, Bertrand Russell, Elihu Root, TR, etc, on this stage. A panoramic masterpiece. Thoughtful quote, page 204: And yet the world we live in¿its divisions and conflicts, its widening gap between rich and poor, its seemingly inexplicable outburst of violence¿is shaped by less by what we celebrate and mythologize than by the painful events we try to forget.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 15, 2014

    Great untold story

    Belgium is not very well known as an oppressive nation, England being the great colonial power of history. But the number of people it killed during its colonization of the Congo exceeded the European Holocaust! I'll leave it to you to buy the book and discover how much they really murdered and how. Another book that, as I like to say, will be the best time you ever had getting depressed!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2005

    a different world now

    If I believed in the innate goodness of human beings or a universal compassion for life that lives within us then - after reading this book - I feel like I was wrong. and naive. ignorant to the true nature of mankind. This book has filled me with a sadness that I'm not sure I have ever felt before... I turned each page with a hand that grew heavier and heavier and by the end it seemed like each page was filled with so much pain that I could hardly lift it up. Watching King Leopold II carefully create and control public perception and use his power to influence, manage and direct other governments, media and policy makes me acutely aware that the same thing is probably happining today. and always will. I feel overwhelmed and a little bit sick after reading this but I will recommend it to every reader I meet.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 31, 2015

    In-depth, fair account of a sad period of history. Very importan

    In-depth, fair account of a sad period of history. Very important for people to know today

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  • Posted August 6, 2014

    This book is insane.  It made me feel insane because so much of

    This book is insane.  It made me feel insane because so much of the information was so new to me.  Hoshschild is an amazing storyteller and this is amazing history.
    Insane, amazing, horrifying, and important. 

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  • Posted July 15, 2012

    An important story, well told

    The author assumes that readers won't get that Conrad's Heart of Darkness was set in an actual context and reflected the horrors of Leopold's Congo. While I don't agree, I am still 100% with Hochschild that the exploitation and decimation of the population of the Congo was truly horrific and has received less attention than it should. How the horrors were uncovered, the subsequent campaign against them, and the counter-campaign to white-wash history is well chronicled in Leopold's Ghost. The subsequent post-independence nightmare of the modern Congo seems almost inevitable given the events that precede it. Definitely an excellent treatment of an under-scrutinized part of history.

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  • Posted January 5, 2012

    Highly recommended. Not fiction, this is fact.

    I ordered this book to be shipped to a third party. The book arrived at its intended destination in timely fashion. I would order this way again.

    0 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 10, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    An easy read of a terrible subject

    In checking the other reviews, there isn't really much that I can add; although I did find the author's personal reflections at the end of the book informative.

    My comment then is on the research and writing of Mr. Hochschild. I find it to be brilliant. Not only has extensive documentation been culled, the manner in which Mr. Hochschild writes, makes the narrative read like a novel. I was somewhat concerned before reading the book, that it might be to technical to be absorbed.

    E.D. Morel is a shining example of how we can all make a difference if we just pay attention to our surroundings. To think that a mere shipping clerk brought down this regime is proof that we can as individuals stop the flow of evil.

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  • Posted March 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    For Knowledge

    This book was extremely enlightening for a history, that of Belgian atrocities in nineteenth-century Africa, on which I had never before been knowledgeable. I recommend it to all scholars who are interested in this niche of historical research.

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  • Posted February 16, 2009

    Very good all the way up until not quite the end

    This subject was new to me, and I enjoyed reading about it in this book. What i disliked is that, after hundreds of pages of interestingly written history, the writer finishes up with a number of pages of personal reflections on the political ramifications of the events in the book. The reason I didn't like it, though such an ending may be logical, is that it completely took me out of the narrative train. The conclusion could have been the beginning of a book on politics, and I did not want it at the end of my history book.

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  • Posted November 4, 2008

    King Leopold's Ghost

    ¿King Leopold¿s Ghost¿<BR/><BR/> <BR/> King Leopold¿s Ghost is a historical account by Adam Hochschild. The author was born in New York City in 1942. When he was a teenager he went with his father on a business trip to Africa. He saw how people had to live and survive. Later when he was in college he took a summer internship in South Africa at a newspaper agency. Adam Hochschild is the only person that has won Canada¿s Lionel Gelber Prize twice. These day Hochschild lives in San Francisco and teaches journalism at Berkeley. Adam Hochschild wants to show that colonialism is a bad thing and should be stopped, and show what happened to the Republic of Congo.<BR/> King Leopold¿s Ghost has the main ideas of greed, colonialism, power and struggle. I wish that he based more on how the people of the Congo had to deal with this; I wish it had their point of view also. I would have liked to know more about Belgium and why they gave so much power to King Leopold II.<BR/> I recommend this historical account because it is a great book to learn more about some modern colonization that happened a little more than 100 years. It gives a great insight to how one man can take over a country at its weakest time<BR/><BR/> Colonialism still happens, not as bad as it used to thought but it is still a problem. And some people still feel they are better than others because of where they are from and how they have grown up. Deal with Social Darwinism, saying where you live or what your race is makes you better than other people. With the Political Race right now, people are bashing Obama because he is from black descent and are bashing Sarah Pailin because she is from Alaska, and some people feel that is a low class state.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 10, 2008

    Greed and Fear Masquerading as Civilizing Mission in Central Africa

    Adam Hochschild resurrects with much talent the forgotten story of the particularly brutal colonization of Congo in Central Africa under the leadership of Leopold II, the second king of Belgium, and his henchmen. Hochschild gives enough background information so that his audience gets a better appreciation for the context of that saga. Hochschild does not spare readers the atrocities that European colonizers perpetrated in the Congo Free State at the turn of the 20th century C.E. Hochschild excels in depicting the main protagonists of that story. To his credit, Hochschild does not gloss over the shortcomings of the courageous men and women who helped expose the misdeeds of King Leopold II and his henchmen. King Leopold II appears as a man whose greed, cunning, duplicity, and charm were a fearsome combination for any of his interlocutors and detractors. Hochschild also reminds his readers about the importance of the media, especially the written press, in convincing the international community (read the West) to put Belgium under heavy pressure to take over the Congo Free State from King Leopold II. Unfortunately, that takeover did not mean a total stop to the exactions committed against the local population. Hochschild rightly draws parallels between what happened in the Congo Free State and what occurred after the decolonization of Congo in 1960 C.E. Congo confirms once more that history tends to repeat itself. Congo remains a dysfunctional state at the beginning of the 21st century C.E. Colonization cannot be blamed for everything that has gone wrong in Congo since 1960 C.E. Perhaps most importantly, ¿King Leopold¿s Ghost¿ is a shocking revelation to most Belgian people. The book shatters the image of the king-builder and the benevolent character of the Belgian colonization of Congo that has been traditionally taught in Belgian schools. It would be interesting to know what the Flemish, French, and German-speaking Communities in Belgium, whose competences include education, respectively teach to their students on that subject in the aftermath of Hochschild¿s book. Unlike Germany, which has atoned for the Holocaust, Belgium has not yet dealt appropriately with the mass killings of colonized Congolese as Hochschild shows in his afterword of the paperback edition.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 4, 2006

    A planted evil

    The Congo basin is the most cruelly raped part of Africa. It and its immediate northern and southern neighbors were the principal source of slaves for the American plantations. In colonial times, Belgian Congo suffered more than all the other African territories from the harshness of colonialism, a legacy that was carried over to the 1960s when efforts at liberation led to the independence of many African countries. That contemporary legacy of misrule, the fomentation of ethnic strife and genocide is what is haunting the land today, and the Belgian king Leopold played a crucial role in bequeathing that horrible legacy. The genocide in Rwanda and the strife in Burundi are all parts of the legacy. French genocidal legacy abound in Cameroon, Algeria etc. German legacy is felt in Namibia.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 28, 2005

    Not at all like a textbook

    For the two weeks that I was reading the book, I was absorbed in the content. I was amazed this part of history had eluded the cirriculum. His chronology was a little scattered, but this can only be expected considering the communication and language barriers, as well as the reluctance of documentation, that had to have prevailed in the Congo. The most unfortunate part of the book (unfortunately!) was the conclusion. He had demonstrated his thesis and was on the home stretch, when he lost focus and started giving evidence that neutralized all of his strong points. A conclusion may be a good place to address some counter-evidence, but that is not exactly what he did. If the Belgian conquest was indeed no different than that of the rest of Europe, why make King Leopold the antagonist? I suggest reflecting on the book before you read the last chapter. Then, read it and try not to be disappointed. The book is otherwise a clean reference (not a textbook by any means) that should serve well the reader with an interest in the topic.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2005

    this book is a descrase to literature

    This book was totally sad, I mean sad in the proffesional way it had absolutly no plot line and it made absolutly no sence what so ever its just...a book that made this great writer look like a complete idiot.

    0 out of 13 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 23, 2004

    A Gripping Story of Greed and Meaness

    I almost didn't buy this book after glancing thru it for the fourth visit to the bookstore. BUT, it turned out to be one of the best books I've ever read. If you enjoy history, you must read this book for you were never told about this story in any of your educational classes. Truly a sad statment about man's inhumanity to man.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2003

    The 'Better Textbook'

    This book was well written. It was an exciting story which the reader is pulled right into even though it had some similarities of a textbook. I would highly recommend this book because it proves that a corrupt and controlling government cannot keep its secrets hidden for long...King Leopold began an empire of terror in the Congo but how did it end???? Read this book to find out. It is one which YOU WILL ENJOY!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 27, 2003

    An important book for anyone who wishes to understand colonialism

    I am still reading the book, in fact, I struggle to put it down. Hochschild's style is eloquent, easy to read and is at times appropriately scathing of the characters. The history of the Congo is absolutely fascinating. It would shock and surprise every reader, no matter how much you think you know about colonialism, and that's why I think it is an extremely important book to read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 9, 2000

    Heart of Darkness and Light

    A truly horrifying account of gross capitalist imperialism at work in the Congo region, one must remember that the Belgian colony was merely one of many slaughterhouses in Africa run by European imperialists. It is a sad fact that since the Cold War, Africa has not escaped the grasp of violence and exploitation; only the color of the villain's skin is different. However, the book shows that there are individuals who rise up against all opposition and win a war previously thought hopeless. Hopefully, people like Williams, Morel, and Casement will face old enemies on the same battlefield and force an unquestionable victory.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 19, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

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