Book Report: King Leopold’s Ghost
The book mainly chronicles the efforts of King Leopold II of Belgium which is to make the Congo into a colonial empire. During the period that 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.
During that time, the vast interior of the Africa continent was still undeveloped and unknown to Europeans while the coastal regions had already been claimed by others. Since Belgium was a small country, King Leopold II was very obsessed with obtaining a colony so that he could focus on claiming the interior of Africa gradually, which was the only unclaimed and sizable geographic area in Africa at that time. As a result of his efforts, he successfully gained international concession and recognition for his personal claim to the Congo Free State. Under his brutal rule, approximately eight million Africans are believed to have perished during King Leopold’s regime of terror, which was directly caused by Leopold 's unsatisfied greed as well as the industrializing European countries’ growing appetite for raw materials. Additionally, Belgian officials and their African allies also crippled millions of Congolese who collected rubber for their colonial overlords. However, King Leopold 's misrule of the Congo was finally uncovered, according to Hochschild, “the first major international atrocity scandal in the age of the telegraph and the camera." The book focuses on the human rights movement that brought world’s attention to the situation in the Congo. It also talks about how it attempted to put international pressure on King Leopold and Belgian government in order to force them to reform and ameliorate t...
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...ghts. Although Hochschild reveals the story mainly through the experiences of those historical witnesses, he puts all the pieces together into a true history of horrible abuses and dehumanization in the colonial Congo as well. In order to indicate us how such a large-scale human tragedy was allowed to happen, he continually exposes the propaganda of that period of time and refers to how the ruling elite conscripted mercenaries in the Force Publique to actually execute the most brutal and repressive crimes, dissecting the psychology colonial military repression. The theme of resistance and activism created by Hochschild is also an essential focus of the book. As the efforts of the human rights activists that brought attention to the plight of the Congolese people suffered from, social movements and individuals can actually make a powerful impact on the world history.
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