King Leopold's Ghost
King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonia Africa
by Adam Hochschild
Published in 1998
Thibault’s Score: 4/5
This book certainly changed by perspective of the history of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a country which has fascinated me for several months.
The book opens with the history of the heroic explorers who braved numerous dangers such as hostile natives, disease, starvation, rugged environments, and “worms that burrow in the feet.” Hochschild covers their victories, their personal tragedies, as well as their heinous crimes.
Hochschild also devotes much ink to the life of King Leopold, and explores the character of Europe’s most murderous monarch. He talks about his life history, and paints Leopold as not just a murderer, a complex 3-dimensional human being with rational motives.
Finally, he also devotes many pages to the dissidents and activists who went to the Congo and condemned the exploitation of the natives. He also reflects on the current situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo.
I found the writing style to be very clear and pleasant to read. The book is well-paced but still remains very information-dense.
By the end of this book, I truly understood the title. The ghost of King Leopold still haunts the Democratic Republic of Congo.
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