The Last Empire: Debeers, Diamonds, and the World

Overview

With a scholar's precision and a novelist's eye, Stefan Kanfer tells the inside story of De Beers Consolidated Mines - from the nineteenth century diamond rush that transformed Johannes De Beer's humble South African farm into an exotic klondike, to the Oppenheimers' shadow empire that has achieved umatched global reach.

With a scholar's precision and a novelist's eye, Stefan Kanfer tells the inside story of De Beers Consolidated Mines--from the 19th century diamond...

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Overview

With a scholar's precision and a novelist's eye, Stefan Kanfer tells the inside story of De Beers Consolidated Mines - from the nineteenth century diamond rush that transformed Johannes De Beer's humble South African farm into an exotic klondike, to the Oppenheimers' shadow empire that has achieved umatched global reach.

With a scholar's precision and a novelist's eye, Stefan Kanfer tells the inside story of De Beers Consolidated Mines--from the 19th century diamond rush that transformed Johannes De Beer's humble South American farm into an exotic klondike to the Oppenheimers' shadow empire that has achieved unmatched global reach. Photos.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Kanfer ( A Summer World ), a writer and editor at Time , focuses more clearly on history than on analysis in this chronicle of the South African-based De Beers diamond empire. He stylishly recounts tales of 19th-century South Africa, where such arresting characters as Barney Barnato and Cecil Rhodes made fortunes on the frontier. He describes the founding of De Beers's sibling, the Anglo-American Corp., and the quirky, powerful Oppenheimer family at its helm. Kanfer offers an adequate, but not probing, analysis of De Beers's alliances with South Africa's enemies, and the cartel's currently diminishing prospects due to the political situations in Angola and Russia. Conspicuously missing are both a description of the important role De Beers and Anglo have played over the past two years during South Africa's protracted negotiations toward democracy, and a consideration of how they might fare under a new government. Photos not seen by PW. (Sept.)
Library Journal
The next time you hear that a ``diamond is forever,'' you may wish to read this history of the De Beers diamond empire and its later absorption under the Oppenheimers by the Anglo-American Corporation. From its opening depiction of the grim diamond fields, this is the story of cutthroat capitalists, the economic and racial development of South Africa, and a multinational corporation that controls virtually the world's entire diamond and gold trade. Kanfer is a Time magazine journalist with a flair for spinning a very good tale that should appeal to general readers, especially history buffs. Not a dry, scholarly tome, this book provides more compelling reading than most fiction.-- Paul H. Thomas, Hoover Institution Lib . , Stanford, Cal.
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This history of the 19th-century diamond rush that transformed Johannes De Beer's humble South African homestead into an empire uncovers the passionate inside story of a billionaire family and reveals the roles of such legendary figures as Cecil Rhodes, the Oppenheimers, & Salomon Brothers. B&W photos.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780374524265
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • Publication date: 5/28/1995
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 416
  • Sales rank: 974,007
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.97 (d)

Meet the Author

Stefan Kanfer
Stefan Kanfer

Stefan Kanfer’s books include The Eighth Sin, A Summer World, The Last Empire, Serious Business, and Groucho. He was a writer and editor at Time for more than twenty years. A Literary Lion of the New York Public Library and recipient of numerous writing awards, Kanfer is currently in the Distinguished Writer program at Southampton College, Long Island University. He lives in New York and Cape Cod.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Mere Carbon, After All 3
Part 1 Romancing the Stone 13
1 A Focus of Human Passion 15
2 Deeper into the Earth 35
3 The Boy-Men 53
4 "We Had Better Join Hands" 67
5 A Vehicle for Plunder 81
6 Vanity and Depravity 97
7 Lying in State 115
8 Exit Rhodes, Enter Hoggenheimer 139
Part 2 Spero Optima 157
9 The Spectre, the Scam, and Satyagraha 159
10 Monkeying About with the Capital 176
11 A Side Entrance to De Beers 192
12 The Death of Hope 208
13 Cleaving a Diamond with a Butter Knife 225
14 Getting Away with It 242
15 Crowning the New King 259
Part 3 Connoisseur of Chaos 279
16 A Nasty Sort of Survival 281
17 Funigalo and Flash Fred 296
18 Under Anglo Every One 312
19 Boiler Room Follies 329
20 But Never Jam Today 343
21 The Most Dangerous Age 357
Notes 375
Index 395
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