Reddit Reddit reviews King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

We found 53 Reddit comments about King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Here are the top ones, ranked by their Reddit score.

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King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa
King Leopold s Ghost A Story of Greed Terror and Heroism in Colonial Africa
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53 Reddit comments about King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa:

u/spike · 453 pointsr/AskHistorians

When I was in school in Belgium in the 1960s, we were taught that the Belgians did nothing but good things in The Congo. My mother confirmed that at the time, all that most Belgians knew about what went on there was on the same level: it was all good, Belgium brought light and civilization to the natives. More recently, of course, people learned the real story: slavery, torture, mutilation, rape and downright genocide, lasting for decades.

It's true that some people in Belgium knew about this, or parts of this, but for the general public the lie was all they ever heard. I remember how shocked my mother was when she read Adam Hochshild's book, King Leoplod's Ghost a few years ago.

u/HallenbeckJoe · 77 pointsr/AskHistorians

This is such a broad question. I want to recommend our AskHistorians Master Book List to you as it isn't focused on American history. Maybe you will find an interesting book and subject in there.

My personal recommendation would be reading up on the colonial history of Belgium, starting with King Leopold's Ghost. I couldn't put it better than the book description: In the 1880s, as the European powers were carving up Africa, King Leopold II of Belgium seized for himself the vast and mostly unexplored territory surrounding the Congo River. Carrying out a genocidal plundering of the Congo, he looted its rubber, brutalized its people, and ultimately slashed its population by ten million--all the while shrewdly cultivating his reputation as a great humanitarian. Heroic efforts to expose these crimes eventually led to the first great human rights movement of the twentieth century, in which everyone from Mark Twain to the Archbishop of Canterbury participated. King Leopold's Ghost is the haunting account of a megalomaniac of monstrous proportions, a man as cunning, charming, and cruel as any of the great Shakespearean villains. It is also the deeply moving portrait of those who fought Leopold: a brave handful of missionaries, travelers, and young idealists who went to Africa for work or adventure and unexpectedly found themselves witnesses to a holocaust.

If that's not what you're looking for, maybe the history of East Germany with a focus on daily life and the Stasi could be interesting as well. But I don't have a good book recommendation for you here. The book Stasiland is very interesting, but maybe too narrow. The movie The Lives of Others could be a good starting point to get you interested.

u/derpallardie · 55 pointsr/NatureIsFuckingLit

If you wanna read about soil, I'd recommend Dirt: The Ecstatic Skin of the Earth by William Bryant Logan. If you're looking for a soil science textbook, I'd go with Brady & Weil. If you're looking for just general reading recommendations, I've really been loving King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa by Adam Hochschild.

u/TrendBomber · 39 pointsr/socialism

Read up on your history before making assumptions

King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

u/DaaraJ · 24 pointsr/history

Not an article, but King Leopold's Ghost is a great book, as is The Congo: From Leopold to Kabila

Or if you have an hour to kill White King, Red Rubber, Black Death is a very well made documentary.

u/LindsayHansenPark · 23 pointsr/exmormon

Yes! Thank you for bringing this up because it's absolutely influenced the way I engage my activism. Here's a photo of me running one of our first 5ks for Women for Women International with Utah For Congo. It's actually the first time I met /u/JohnDehlin in person because he came and supported the race!

I had read Half the Sky and was horrified to learn of the plight of women around the world. I'm not one to hear of something bad and sit around so I do what I do best, I organized. My friend Missy and I started 5k's to raise money for post-rape survivors in the DRC. It was a great, feel-good experience. We did it for a few years but as we both got more involved, we also got more educated.

I read King Leopold's Ghost which radically shifted my take on how I saw the world. What I saw was a history of white women who would hear about the horrors of the global south, clutch their pearls, and organize.

What this usually meant was women's societies (relief societies!) who felt like their white, western presence could save the savage from their heathen state.

If you know the history of Congo and the conflict there, they were colonized out of missionary work and the intentions of white westerners intent on rescuing them. It was horrifying to look in that mirror and realize I was complicit in a system of colonizing. A system that got them in the mess to begin with.

Colonization is violence. Mormonism too often engages in colonial ways of engaging the world and I can't support it. (However, fundamentalist are usually more intent on saving their own, including the LDS and that approach is better than trying to tell the rest of the world they need to be fixed).

Anyway, it's so hard to not be complicit in systems of violence since we are all part of these systems, but I do try my best to not reinforce them. I try and support charities where local people are working in their own corners of their own communities and let them take the lead. That is how I would vet charities. If they are outsiders trying to rescue other communities, I get suspicious.

I've tried to scale back on global activism and focus on the corners of my own world and my own community for this reason.

People are often like, "Why are you so focused on Mormonism?" Because that's the community I know and I know our struggles better than outsiders do and I'm committed and invested in making them healthier.

u/frodosdream · 21 pointsr/worldnews

Highly recommend reading "King Leopold's Ghost" to anyone interested in the history of Belgian colonialist atrocities in Africa. Warning: it makes for grim reading.

u/bokmal · 17 pointsr/worldnews

Well, no that's the Congo. They had great teachers. You remember of course, King Leopold II who cut off people's hands if they failed to meet rubber production quotas.

  • Male rubber tappers and porters were mercilessly exploited and driven to death. Leopold's agents held the wives and children of these men hostage until they returned with their rubber quota. Those who refused or failed to supply enough rubber had their villages burned down, children murdered, and hands cut off.
  • Excellent book on the matter
u/cdts · 16 pointsr/GamerGhazi
u/Apodeictic974 · 12 pointsr/toronto

Maybe take a look at this documentary to get a little perspective on the current situation in the Congo. Canadians are among the top consumers of electronic goods, and it's the materials used to make these good that come from "blood minerals." There are also a few articles on the subject here, here and here. The west plays a large part in the violence in Western African nations. Canadians should at least realize that our lifestyles contribute (whether directly or indirectly) to some degree to political situations in third world countries.

And to say "it's shit because they made it shit" is so ignorant I don't even know where to start. Perhaps take a look through this book to realize how fucked up the Congo was from its earliest days of colonization.

u/ExcellentPastries · 11 pointsr/worldnews

> it coudl be argued much of africa has a better life and opportunity under colonialism

Read King Leopold’s Ghost from cover to cover before you ever make this claim again.

u/misterid · 11 pointsr/todayilearned

Adam Hochschild wrote an excellent book about it

u/Mythosaurus · 10 pointsr/Blackfellas

Yeah, you picked a bad hill to die on, saying I " generically blame "Europeans" " when I clearly pointed out that there were Europeans calling out chattel slavery as evil as it was happening. You really should have caught that before responding.

Somewhat realated, another podcast you can check out is Behind the Bastards, which did a two part episode on Belgium's crimes in the Congo.

Did you know Leopold raised capital for his African venture by claiming he was doing humanitarian work fighting the Arabs who were enslaving Africans? And that he then used those funds to create his own slave armies and workforce to extract rubber wealth from the region? I didn't, until I took the time to listen and learn. And that's why I called you out on trying to shift blame to India and it's slave trade, bc that's an old racist tactic to muddy the waters and derail a conversation on slavery.

maybe add King Leopold's Ghost to that list:

edit: also, don't start an apology with feigned innocence on this subject, especially on r/blackfellas. Just own that you response was bad, and trust that we can see the effort to change course.

u/kaleidingscope · 9 pointsr/history

King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild is really good. Its about the Belgian King's rule over the Congo.

We Wish to Inform You That Tomorrow We Will be Killed With Our Families: Stories from Rwanda by Philip Gourevich is an account of the Rwandan Genocide of '94.

That's more recent history, but the fact is little is written about pre-colonial Africa (not dealing with Egypt). I haven't read much, but I'm sure theres some decent readings about the Mali Empire (maybe start with Mansa Musa?).

u/Mr_President012 · 9 pointsr/wikipedia

The book King Leopold's Ghost is all about this genocide. It's a very good read and I highly recommend it.

u/LaviniaBeddard · 7 pointsr/HistoryPorn

For anyone wanting to read the whole story

It's not often you get to say "Fuck Belgium"

u/nickismynickname · 6 pointsr/belgium

If you want to learn about our colonial history in the Congo you should read "King Leopold's Ghost" by Adam Hochschild.

Amazon Link.

u/echinops · 6 pointsr/IndianCountry

I just finished King Leopold's Ghost, which was one of the most eye-opening historical books I've read. Though not about the Americas, it goes into great depth by which the European colonists committed savage atrocities against relatively peaceful indigenous populations to enslave them to produce goods and services to fuel their war machines. In this case it was rubber in the Congo.

All of this sets the stage for our current global geopolitics. It often seems like the narrative hasn't changed much, it's only pushed out of the mainstream foci, conveniently. Apparently, we're condemned to repeat the mistakes of the past due to, as you implied, revisionist histories that are spoon-fed to the young.

u/HomoFerox_HomoFaber · 6 pointsr/todayilearned

King Leopold II to be specific.

And he devastated the Congo. This is a book everyone should read.

Also, this book is an essential read on "ordinary men" in a Nazi reserve batallion and how they coped with (or outright enjoyed) the tasks entrusted to them. Some ran away, some drank themselves to oblivion, severe depression, etc.

u/president_of_burundi · 6 pointsr/todayilearned

Check out King Leopold's Ghost for a really interesting non-fiction book about Leopold in the the Belgian Congo and the men who brought the genocide to light- it's an incredibly engaging read.

u/DorkQueenofAll · 6 pointsr/rage

If anyone wants to learn more about this topic, there is a book called King Leopold's Ghost. It has a very well-researched and heartbreaking view on the crimes committed.

u/EugeneLawyer · 6 pointsr/todayilearned

There is a good book about the Congo and King Leopold, called King Leopold's Ghost.

u/PotatoQuie · 4 pointsr/politics

It sounds like you're trying to justify Imperialism by the actions of modern Zimbabwe.

If you want an example of European Imperialism being harmful in Africa, look no further than King Leopold II of Belgium's rule over the Congo where over 10 million people were killed while he extracted ivory and rubber from the country. This was not "self-inflicted". Source

The original point was the difference between Chinese power and European power in Africa. You brought up the failures of Zimbabwe's self rule. Nobody else was talking about self rule, we were comparing Europe to China. Since European involvement in the Congo resulted in upwards of ten million deaths over a period of twenty years, I'm going to go ahead and say that European control of Africa was not good.

u/parkalark23 · 4 pointsr/peacecorps

I'm currently working through King Leopold's Ghost. It's interesting and well-written, but it is pretty darn dense. I haven't read Stuffed and Starved except in excerpts in a class but it's on my list to bring during service. Guns, Germs, and Steel is also on my list. Very popular and while there is some controversy around it I think it could prove to at least be a very entertaining read.

u/fna4 · 3 pointsr/rage

This refers to rule under Leopold well before the time this picture was taken, but it's a great read.

u/kudomonster · 3 pointsr/todayilearned

We actually had to read about it in my undergrad core class. Very dense, very disturbing read.

edit: failed hyperlink...

u/cLnYze19N · 3 pointsr/europe

> "King Leopold's Ghosts

Do you mean King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hochschild? I have that one, it's great.

u/WardenOfTheGrey · 3 pointsr/WTF

Here's some suggested reading you ignorant shithead.

Or if you'd rather a quick source, here. It's even got this picture.

>Nsala, of the district of Wala, looking at the severed hand and foot of his five-year old daughter, Boali, who was killed and allegedly cannibalized by the members of Anglo-Belgian India Rubber Company (A.B.I.R.) militia. Source: E. D Morel, King Leopold's rule in Africa, between pages 144 and 145

u/irongyent · 3 pointsr/worldnews

A really good book on the subject of the time was King Leopold's Ghost

u/ahalfwaycrook · 3 pointsr/AskHistorians

My choice would be King Leopold's Ghost. I would want them to read a book that is somewhat less academic because I would want as many people as possible reading it to understand it. I also deal with many people who do not understand the costs of colonialism and the deep scarring impact of colonialism. I remember reading this book a while after reading some of the pro-colonialism work by Niall Ferguson and wanting to force him to read this book and justify his views on benevolent colonialism.

u/[deleted] · 2 pointsr/worldnews

In the DRC's case Belgian colonialism really fucked them over in the past and geographically united a region where typically people didn't get along. It's still no real excuse for the levels of violence and corruption there, but King Leopold's Congo was considered one of the most oppressively run colonies (by 19th century Europe no less). King Leopold's Ghost is a disturbing book on the subject. Sorry for seriousing all over your witty reply, won't happen again.

u/kla · 2 pointsr/worldnews

joseph Conrad arrived in the Congo in period before it got really bad. It inspired him to write "Heart of Darkness" which is good read. and this:

is King Leopold's Ghost which is a history of the whole awful mess. And also a good read. Its not all bad. There are some heros. The catholic church is not one of them. Niether are any "western" governments. They behave dispicably. Mark Twain spoke out against it as did many afro americans. But its mostly pretty wretched. And not many people know about it.

u/Really_McNamington · 2 pointsr/SelfAwarewolves

Pick up a copy of King Leopolds Ghost or The Kaiser's Holocaust. Both very readable although not much fun.

u/Box_of_Shit · 2 pointsr/vexillology

Technically, this is the flag of the front International African Association (1876) and The International Association of the Congo (1879–1885) before it was ever the flag of a nation.

If anyone wants to read an extremely interesting history of the Belgium's (really, Leopold II's) relationship with Africa (awful as it may be) I highly recommend King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa.

It mentions the history of this flag, and discusses the organizations who used it along with harrowing tales of incredible cruelty and greed.

u/road_to_nowhere · 2 pointsr/LateStageCapitalism

The last time I saw this image someone commented and recommended the book King Leopold's Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa. Someone gave it to me as a gift recently and it's on my stack, but I haven't gotten to it quite yet. I think I'll move it to the top. Before I saw this image last time I had no idea these things had happened.

u/ResonantPyre · 2 pointsr/slatestarcodex

A work I recently finished that you might find interesting was King Leopold's Ghost. It was a rigorous study and explanation of Belgian colonialism in the Congo under King Leopold in the 19th and 20th centuries; I found the book gave a very vivid summary of that, and filled in a bit of a blind spot of mine to the exact horror European colonialism could reach to. I was familiar with colonialism in the general, but I think it furthered my understanding to see such a detailed work on just one example of colonialism in history.

A couple books ago, I also read The Origins of Political Order: From Prehuman Times to the French Revolution which, although a work of historical analysis primarily, still informed me in the process of elaborating its historical analysis of quite a bit of history to which I was hitherto unaware. I've heard its arguments come across even better if you're acquainted with Francis Fukuyama's other political philosophy work (famously, The End of History and the Last Man), but I had not read that and its arguments still came across well. It was fairly wide-spanning in history like the title says, but as a fairly long work it was still able to go into detail. The book shined the most for me when it was exploring state building in India and China, while relating and contrasting these processes to the mechanics of European state building, something I was more familiar about. He describes the story of state building in all these areas, starting from the very beginning, and attempts to answer why it went certain directions in some places but differed in others. He makes the very convincing argument that religion was an essential factor, relating it to the rule of law and informing me in the process a lot of the details of how religion operated in India and China historically. I'm not really qualified to accurately evaluate the book's core theses, but disregarding them, the journey to those theses was still very enlightening.

Also, I think I've seen you mention elsewhere on this subreddit your interest in phenomenology and philosophy at large. I was wondering how you would recommend approaching the canon to say, have a good understanding of someone like Heidegger. It feels a bit overwhelming to look at the sheer complexity of later philosophy like that and confront it. Do you think it would be best to try to start at the beginning of Western philosophy and move up from there, work by work? I have a basic knowledge of some philosophy, mostly gained at random from secondary resources and occasional primary sources I found really interesting, but it's all very scattershot and not super rigorous. I'm currently reading through a history of Western philosophy which I hope will give me a broader perspective, and some more insight into how all the ideas relate and developed. Anyway, I was just hoping you might have some thoughts or advice on this, thanks.

u/bothan_spy_net · 2 pointsr/todayilearned

If you're interested check out King Leopold's Ghost by Adam Hothschild. It's really a great book and isn't up its own ass. I read a few chapters for a class and ended up reading the whole thing. Very interesting in a non-nerdy way.

u/TheUrsaMajor · 2 pointsr/books

King Leopold's Ghost is an engrossing read that would be a great companion book to Heart of Darkness, which I saw you're reading now. Even if you weren't reading HoD, King Leopold's Ghost is a book I would still be recommending.

u/Ayzmo · 2 pointsr/conspiracy

King Leopold's Ghost is a great read on the subject.

u/Funkentelechy · 2 pointsr/stephenking

After finishing Heart of Darkness, I immediately picked up a copy of King Leopold's Ghost, a history of Belgian colonialism in the Congo. Really puts things in perspective.

u/Nexus-6 · 2 pointsr/kindle

King Leopold's Ghost-Adam Hochschild

I just got a Kindle a few weeks ago and it was my first purchase :)

I read "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad in high school and loved it and this book gives a lot of historical context to the formation of the Congo Free State and the atrocities that happened there. Really really interesting read.

Also any 'classics' they have for free which is really nice (stuff like Alice in Wonderland, Faust, Pride and Prejudice, etc, etc).

u/rxxrxy · 2 pointsr/AdviceAnimals

Some schools of thought use majority and minority in the terms of power, as opposed to population. So the Belgium's colonizing the Congo for rubber would be the majority because they hold the power. A group with a lot of power can then systematically discriminate against a certain race because they believed that they are superior.

u/cpbreton · 2 pointsr/Quebec

>Wtf? Ya pas de différence entre le Congo sous les Belges et le Québec (autrefois canada-français) sous l'Angleterre.

Oui, c'était exactement la même chose. Et c'est moi qui faut apprends mon histoire...tu peux commencer ici

>Parler français...Être indépendantiste...

La Charte n'a rien de faire avec parler Français ou l'indépendantiste. Si tu es un Anglophone fédéraliste qui soutien la Charte je dirai la même chose.

u/Kingfisher_ybw · 2 pointsr/belgium

King Leopolds Ghost 3 books in one: rivetting Indiana Jones about the Stanley-Watson expedition, history politicial, how Belgium got this enourmous colony, and a detective story on how the world discovered Leo's atrocities (a lowly clerk in an Antwerp shipping company wants to know why full ships come in and empty ships go back) or anything by Stephen E Ambrose (also great is his history of the first railway through the US, or the Lewis expedition.

u/robinkak · 1 pointr/technology

Nah man i read 3 books about it, from different authors. Stop being a little r/imnotlikeothergirls by trying to look cool for dismissing the norm. Your source is a extremely biased website made for people desperate to be part of some backwards movement.

Edit: read a book

u/Billmarius · 1 pointr/news

Are you suggesting that India and Pakistan, before partition, weren't subjected to 200 years of British colonial rule? That the arbitrary colonial borders drawn up by the British didn't involuntarily mash together a part of the world that was largely Muslim with a part of the world that was primarily Hindu? That atrocities and human rights abuses did not occur on a regular basis, including intentional famines? Have you done any historical reading about the actions of the East India Company in SE Asia? Do you have any thoughts on why many in the Middle East have a deep-seated, generational resentment of the Imperial behavior of the West?

Perhaps it has something to do with the firebombings and mustard gas?

>But most of the unpeaceful ones are Muslim.

This sweeping generalization is laughably ignorant. But engaging you further will not be useful, as your worldview is grounded in faith instead of historical research. If you don't think the atrocities committed by Western imperial powers didn't permanently fuck-up and fuck-over India, Africa and the Middle East, I can't help you.

Your use of the world "unpeaceful" suggests to me that you don't have a college degree. This is not to put you down, it's just to say that engaging you further will be pointless since you already have your mind made up about the "bad guys."

I can make a book recommendation though, if you have the stomach and the balls to read the historical events that inspired Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

u/owlsandphysics · 1 pointr/MLPLounge

I just realized I haven't read a non-fiction book other than a textbook in years. Not a huge fan of sermons, so I would probably never want to read that last one. The older history books are neat though. They are closer to old events, but they also have their own skewed view, so yeah, "abandoned window to the past" is a good take on them.

That does seem like something original Starlight Glimmer would go for.

For an interesting non-fiction book, I have a HEAVILY annotated copy of King Leopold's Ghost with me, though I haven't opened it in a while. It goes a bit into colonial Africa as a whole, but mostly focus on the Belgian Congo around the turn of the century. The author does a good job turning it into a story, but its all true (at least as far as I can tell), which is more horrifying.

u/artearth · 1 pointr/booklists

For Belgium and the Congo both, I would instead recommend King Leopold's Ghost.

The book "explores the exploitation of the Congo Free State by King Leopold II of Belgium between 1885 and 1908, as well as the large-scale atrocities committed during that period. The book succeeded in increasing public awareness of these Belgian colonial crimes." (Wikipedia)

I don't think that's the book their ambassador would want us to read, though.

u/terafunker · 1 pointr/todayilearned

This book is an excellent resource for those wishing to learn more about Belgian tyranny and genocide in Congo.

u/Geairt_Annok · 1 pointr/history

Good Resources is King Leopold's Ghost.

To get more into it. It was the Age of Colonization and the Carving up of Africa. As the major powers took chunks for the nation for themselves King Leopold decided he wanted a part of the action.

He paid explorers to chart of the Congo River and claimed a large swath of land along it. He was competing with France to his North, and Germans to the East.

It is important to note that the Congo Free State started not as a Belguian colony but as King Leopold's personal colony. He exploited the lands for Ivory and later Rubber by essential enslaving the natives in their own homeland. Those that didn't make quotas had their hands cut off. The population in the Congo crashed, and it is general considered the 4th worst destruction of human life after the Holocaust, Stalin's Soviet Union and Mao's Communist China

The book Heart of Darkness is written about what Joseph Conrad saw when he visited.

Eventually as people learned of the atrocities King Leopold was forced to turn it over to the Belgium nation. When they took over Missionary school and other more "civilized" systems were set up, but the exploitation continued in a slightly less extreme way.

u/Bacch · 1 pointr/MapPorn

All good--for context in terms of my favorite non-fiction reads, this one is pretty high on the list, and it's not exactly riveting reading.