A searing history of evil and the heroes who exposed it.

KING LEOPOLD'S GHOST

A STORY OF GREED, TERROR, AND HEROISM IN COLONIAL AFRICA

Journalist-memoirist Hochschild (Finding the Trapdoor, 1997, etc.) recounts the crimes against humanity of Belgium’s King Leopold II, whose brutal imperialist regime sparked the creation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and the first major human-rights protest movement of this century.

Hell-bent on building grandiose state monuments and palaces and on swelling royal coffers, Leopold sought to carve out of central Africa a fiefdom 76 times the size of Belgium. Cagily inveighing against local slave traders and inviting Christian missionaries to spread the Gospel, he transformed a philanthropic organization temporarily under his aegis into the Congo, his own personal colony. He plundered the Congo’s bounty of rubber, instituted forced labor, and reduced the population by half (an estimated 10 million deaths from 1880 to 1920). To achieve compliance with rubber-gathering quotas, soldiers in the Force Publique, Leopold’s colonial army, committed mass murder, cut off hands, severed heads, took hostages, and burnt villages. His misrule remained undetected for more than a decade because he won US recognition of his claim to the Congo, used explorer Henry Morton Stanley to swindle chiefs out of land, and concealed the colony’s budget. If Hochschild depicts Leopold not as a Hitleresque madman but as a liberal bogeyman ready to sacrifice all for the bottom line, he profiles the monarch’s opponents in all their complicated humanity. These include George Washington William, an African-American journalist prone to exaggerating his own credentials but not Leopold’s atrocities; Roger Casement, a British consul knighted for a damning Congo report, then later executed for participating in Ireland’s 1916 rebellion, and exposed as a homosexual; and E.D. Morel, a journalist who, though committed to imperialism, led a decade-long campaign that succeeded in forcing Leopold to turn the Congo over to the citizens of Belgium.

A searing history of evil and the heroes who exposed it.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 1998

ISBN: 0-395-75924-2

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Houghton Mifflin

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN

Bernstein and Woodward, the two Washington Post journalists who broke the Big Story, tell how they did it by old fashioned seat-of-the-pants reporting — in other words, lots of intuition and a thick stack of phone numbers. They've saved a few scoops for the occasion, the biggest being the name of their early inside source, the "sacrificial lamb" H**h Sl**n. But Washingtonians who talked will be most surprised by the admission that their rumored contacts in the FBI and elsewhere never existed; many who were telephoned for "confirmation" were revealing more than they realized. The real drama, and there's plenty of it, lies in the private-eye tactics employed by Bernstein and Woodward (they refer to themselves in the third person, strictly on a last name basis). The centerpiece of their own covert operation was an unnamed high government source they call Deep Throat, with whom Woodward arranged secret meetings by positioning the potted palm on his balcony and through codes scribbled in his morning newspaper. Woodward's wee hours meetings with Deep Throat in an underground parking garage are sheer cinema: we can just see Robert Redford (it has to be Robert Redford) watching warily for muggers and stubbing out endless cigarettes while Deep Throat spills the inside dope about the plumbers. Then too, they amass enough seamy detail to fascinate even the most avid Watergate wallower — what a drunken and abusive Mitchell threatened to do to Post publisher Katherine Graham's tit, and more on the Segretti connection — including the activities of a USC campus political group known as the Ratfuckers whose former members served as a recruiting pool for the Nixon White House. As the scandal goes public and out of their hands Bernstein and Woodward seem as stunned as the rest of us at where their search for the "head ratfucker" has led. You have to agree with what their City Editor Barry Sussman realized way back in the beginning — "We've never had a story like this. Just never."

Pub Date: June 18, 1974

ISBN: 0671894412

Page Count: 372

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Oct. 10, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1974

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