I like how the story is presented in a linear fashion. It does not jump around much in the dates. This resulted in an easy to follow story.
From greed of one man to the slaughter of millions
This was a very informative book about the oppression of native people of Congo. Once one reads this book, one will understand the strife endured by the natives in the past which can be seen today as well. Today, it is easy to look at conflicts in developing and undeveloped countries and think, "Those people need to settle their differences". However, that is a naive thought. One must look at the people, the land, the culture, the resources, and most of all...the history. King Leopold's Ghost is not only about the brutal oppression of the Congolese population by a racist, dehumanizing Belgian monarchy; it is also about the ingrained racism and indifference society had toward other societies over 100 years ago. Almost every developed European country is implicated in this indifference. It must be acknowledged that the developed countries, in which we enjoy a comfortable lifestyle today, is built upon the labor, blood, and the cruelty endured by the weaker native populations. Every person who has the luxury to enjoy his/her comfortable lifestyle owes it to himself/herself to read this text.
It's hard to be enthusiastic about a book that deals with genocide, but it's important for the victims that the story be told, and it's important for us to remember so that it doesn't happen again.
The voice actor uses Upper Received Pronunciation to great effect. This is very helpful with nonfiction, I wish more audiobooks would follow suit.
Where to start? The information I gathered from this book was startling. Not only was I educated, I was entertained. I not only learned about King Leopold, I learned about Henry Morton Stanley, Joseph Conrad, and a slew of other historical figures.
I really enjoyed the way the book was read. The pauses, the cadence, and the the readers voice all were impressive. Another great selection from Audible. Thank you.
Completely blindsided by this historical account of which no primary schools ever touch on or teach children about. Very well written and read. The greed of men knows no bound. The deleting of the past by an entire nation is shameful.
Family father, neuroscientist, and non-fiction addict.
This books tells a story that deserves a greater audience. Most people have a vague appreciation of colonialist exploits in Africa and most people know that imperialist Europe to some extent exploited Africa in a way that was not mutually beneficial. This book describes the process and the details of this exploitation in the Congo, and it paints a gruesome picture that is difficult to shake off.
We get to follow King Leopold who from an early age desired a large territory to exploit. By pretending to be on a humanitarian mission Leoplold got European leaders to accept him taking over Congo. When in charge he set up a reign based on terror and slavery resulting in a large personal fortune and a reduction of the Congolese population to about 50% of what it had been before Leopold’s men arrived. His belgian soldier were given manuals of how to Kidnap women and children to force men to work, as well as how to punish men who did not work (chopping off hands was a frequent phenomena).
As damning as this story is for white imperialist Europe, it also offers hope. Leopold was eventually stopped, and not through local uprisings. Indeed local leaders tended to help tyrants such as Leopold if they themselves could profit from it. Rather it was the english lawyer, E.D. Morel, who when he realized that Leopold was exploiting Congo made it his mission to stop him. This resulted in what was essentially a PR war between Morel and King Leopold, which was fought around the world and which is a fascinating story in its own right (which is also described in the book). Of course Congo eventually became a sovereign nation, and as is sadly often the case, the first thing they did was to elect a leader (Lumumba) who wanted to shut the rest of the world (especially western nations) out. CIA responded with an assassination and installed Mobutu, who ruled the “democratic” republic of Congo for 30 years, leading it to more suffering and poverty.
In sum, King Leopold’s ghost is a gripping, well researched, story about a chapter in our history about which we are too naive. The book is highly recommended
A period in history which exemplifies the brutality of colonialism. All the duplicity, lies and propaganda used by Leopold can be cut and pasted onto the political and industry leaders of the 21st century. Heart of darkness indeed.
I found the topic fascinating and enlightening but the narration by Geoffrey Howard was a bit dry making it come off as the reading of a high school textbook. At first I thought it might be the writing but then I determined it was the narrator and his delivery. The late Edward Herrmann would have been able to deliver much more drama into the narrative. In addition, the editing of the recording was terrible. 30 or 40 times the narration repeated itself with previously read lines.
That being said, overall I really enjoyed the book. It's a part of history I didn't know and the book really touched on the pulse of the times. As the book states, history is written by the victors so the rape and torture of the Dark Continent did not make it into any of the textbooks of my youth. If you can put aside the editing issues and the dry narration it's work your time. Adam Hochschild did his part. My suggestion would be to purchase the book and read it if you can.