Press Release: King Leopold’s Ghost
A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa
‘A remarkable achievement. It overwhelmed me in the way Heart of Darkness did when I first read it’
Between 1885 and 1908, King Leopold II of Belgium, driven by an insatiable lust for wealth and empire, unleashed a reign of terror on the land he had claimed as his personal fiefdom surrounding the Congo river, plundering its ivory and rubber, enslaving and brutalising its people. The fight to expose this horror not only triggered the 20th century’s first major human rights movement but also inspired one of its defining novels. In a gripping history, Adam Hochschild reveals the truth behind both, recounting an extraordinary, and largely forgotten, story of a power-crazed monarch whose avarice was matched only by the courage of those who sought to expose him.
Hochschild introduces a cast of heroes and villains worthy of any Shakespearean drama. We follow the impassioned campaigner Edmund Morel, who, after stumbling across Leopold’s scheme, abandoned his shipping career to become ’the greatest British investigative journalist of his time’, Mark Twain, Arthur Conan Doyle, Léon Rom (the real Mr Kurtz) and, of course, Joseph Conrad, whose experiences on the bloody banks of the Congo Delta inspired him to pen one of literature’s most potent – and terrorising – works.
Published in 1999, less than 100 years after the demise of Leopold’s Congo, Hochschild examines why this shameful tragedy of human rights so quickly faded from public memory, and how the ferocious public relations war fought on its behalf, mired in lobbying, deviousness, sex and celebrity, is so ‘strikingly close to our time’. This Folio edition includes a new selection of 24 pages of researched images, showing all the story’s key players, as well as the African victims Leopold was so determined to hide from public view. Included is a pictorial slipcase, and a binding adorned with two elephant tusks, a sombre reminder of the trade that cost so many millions of lives.
Three-quarter-bound in blocked cloth with a printed front board. Set in Bulmer. 416 pages. Frontispiece and 24 pages of colour and black & white plates. 12 integrated black & white illustations. 1 map. Printed slipcase. 9½˝ x 6¼˝.
UK £39.95 US $59.95 Can $81.95 Aus $79.95
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