FINALIST FOR THE CUNDILL PRIZE FOR HISTORY
'Not only deserves the description "epic", in its true sense, but the term "masterpiece" as well' Independent
This gripping epic tells the story of one of the world's most critical failed nation-states: the Democratic Republic of Congo. Interweaving his own family's history with…
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Why read it?
2 authors picked Congo as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?
As the author of a book on the Democratic Republic of Congo myself, I should have felt fiercely competitive with Van Reybrouk, a Belgian playwright, poet, and author. In fact, I loved this book. He tells this enormous country’s complex history, from King Leopold’s 19th-century giant land grab through to Patrice Lumumba's premiership, Marechal Mobutu Sese Sekos’ overthrow, Laurent Kabila’s Rwandan-backed takeover and beyond, almost exclusively through the testimony of living Congolese citizens, making it not only extraordinarily fresh, but utterly authentic as a record of the past. It’s a long book – 150 years of history, addressed at a…
Rarely has a nation been subject to such brutal leaders and the history of the Congo is not for the faint-hearted. Van Reybrouck describes the policies of leaders who never took their eyes of the goal: ruling and exploiting the wealth of a nation. Belgium King Leopold II acquired the Congo territory as his private fiefdom at the Berlin Conference in 1885. He ruled it with the sole aim of extracting its mineral wealth and if his colonial army, the Force Publique, had to maim and kill swaths of the population to do so, then so be it. He set…
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