Congo: The Epic History of a People

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9780062200129: Congo: The Epic History of a People

The Democratic Republic of Congo currently ranks among the world's most critical failed nation-states, second only to war-torn Somalia, and ahead of notoriously dysfunctional countries like Sudan, Rwanda, Iraq, and Afghanistan. David van Reybrouck'sCongo: A Historytraces the fate of this most devastated nation, from the impact of the slave trade, the arrival of Lord Stanley, the ivory and rubber booms, and colonization, to the struggle for independence, Mobutu's brutal three decades of rule, the world famous Rumble in the Jungle, and the civil war that has raged from 1996 to the present day-the deadliest conflict since the Second World War, a confrontation fueled by the extensive mining of uranium (for bombs) and rare earths (critical for the production of the mobile phones flooding today's global marketplace).

Congobrings 19th century Africa to life through little-known archival sources, most notably an exceptional but virtually unknown autobiography of a young African who was first captured by Afro-Arab raiders and sold into slavery, later finding that he had been bought by a mustachioed man by the name of Stanley. Van Reybrouck later portrays a young, ambitious King Leopold II who, in the name of ending slavery, founded the Congo Free State, only to give birth to the harsh regime of terror associated with forced rubber extraction (the first of many times the Congolese people would become slaves to their own natural resources). The author also offers cogent analysis of the early days of European colonialism, exploring how the tribalism that plagues the region to this day is in fact a Western construction born of that very history of forced occupation. In combination with his own family's past (the author's father once served as a railway employee in the Congo), the hundreds of interviews van Reybrouck conducted both in the slums of Kinshasa and in the villages of the interior-as well as in the African diaspora of Europe and China-lend a unique dimension to this rich and convoluted history.

Congointroduces readers to elderly Congolese-some of them well over a hundred-who reminisce about their lives in a country where the average life expectancy has dropped to 45. It creates a panoramic canvas where child-soldiers, encountered by the author in the rebel territories in the East, talk candidly about their choices and misfortunes. It also highlights little-known aspects of contemporary Congolese culture. For example, the author travelled with female merchants from Kinshasa via Nairobi and Bangkok to Guangzhou, where he learnt how to smuggle mobile phones and wigs destined for the African markets. Epic in scope yet eminently readable, penetrating and deeply moving,Congo: A Historydoes for Africa what Robert Hughes'The Fatal Shoredid for Australia while employing a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective and returning a nation's history to its people.

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From the beginnings of the slave trade through colonization, the struggle for independence, Mobutu's brutal three decades of rule, and the civil war that has raged from 1996 to the present day, Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the history of one of the most devastated nations in the world. Esteemed scholar David Van Reybrouck balances hundreds of interviews with a diverse range of Congolese with meticulous historical research to construct a multidimensional portrait of a nation and its people.

Epic in scope yet eminently readable, both penetrating and deeply moving, Congo—a finalist for the Cundill Prize—takes a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective, and returns a nation's history to its people.

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The gripping saga of one of the world's most devastated countries

The Democratic Republic of Congo currently ranks among the world's most failed nation-states, second only to war-torn Somalia. David Van Reybrouck's Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the history of this devastated nation from the beginnings of the slave trade through the arrival of Sir Henry Morton Stanley, the ivory and rubber booms, colonization, the struggle for independence, and the three decades of Mobutu's brutal rule. Van Reybrouck also examines the civil war—the world's deadliest conflict since the Second World War. Still raging today after seventeen years, the Congolese war is driven, in part, by the demand for the rare-earth minerals required to make cell phones.

Van Reybrouck has balanced hundreds of interviews with meticulous historical research to construct a many-dimensional portrait of the rich and convoluted history of Congo. Taking pains to seek out the Congolese perspective on the country's history, Van Reybrouck creates a panoramic canvas wherein the child soldiers whom he encounters in the eastern rebel territories talk candidly about their choices and misfortunes, and where elderly Congolese—some of them more than one hundred years old—reminisce about their lives in a country where the average life expectancy has dropped to forty-five.

Vast in scope yet eminently readable, both penetrating and deeply moving, Congo does for Africa what Robert Hughes's masterful and novelistic The Fatal Shore did for Australia. Van Reybrouck takes a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective and returning a nation's history to its people. Published to rave reviews in Belgium and the Netherlands in 2010, Congo has now been gracefully translated by the exceptional Sam Garrett, most recently the translator of Herman Koch's bestselling The Dinner.

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Book Description Ecco Press, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 229 x 147 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the beginnings of the slave trade through colonization, the struggle for independence, Mobutu s brutal three decades of rule, and the civil war that has raged from 1996 to the present day, Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the history of one of the most devastated nations in the world. Esteemed scholar David Van Reybrouck balances hundreds of interviews with a diverse range of Congolese with meticulous historical research to construct a multidimensional portrait of a nation and its people.Epic in scope yet eminently readable, both penetrating and deeply moving, Congo--a finalist for the Cundill Prize--takes a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective, and returns a nation s history to its people. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780062200129

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Book Description Ecco Press, United States, 2015. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Reprint. 229 x 147 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. From the beginnings of the slave trade through colonization, the struggle for independence, Mobutu s brutal three decades of rule, and the civil war that has raged from 1996 to the present day, Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the history of one of the most devastated nations in the world. Esteemed scholar David Van Reybrouck balances hundreds of interviews with a diverse range of Congolese with meticulous historical research to construct a multidimensional portrait of a nation and its people.Epic in scope yet eminently readable, both penetrating and deeply moving, Congo--a finalist for the Cundill Prize--takes a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective, and returns a nation s history to its people. Bookseller Inventory # LIB9780062200129

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