The Troubled Heart of Africa: A History of the Congo

The Troubled Heart of Africa A History of the Congo Written over a century ago Joseph Conrad s Heart of Darkness continues to dominate our vision of the Congo unlikely as it might seem that a late Victorian novella could encapsulate a country roughly

  • Title: The Troubled Heart of Africa: A History of the Congo
  • Author: Robert Edgerton
  • ISBN: 9780312304867
  • Page: 465
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Written over a century ago, Joseph Conrad s Heart of Darkness continues to dominate our vision of the Congo, unlikely as it might seem that a late Victorian novella could encapsulate a country roughly equal in size to the United States east of the Mississippi Conrad s Congo is hell itself, a place where civilization won t take, where literal and metaphor darknesses converWritten over a century ago, Joseph Conrad s Heart of Darkness continues to dominate our vision of the Congo, unlikely as it might seem that a late Victorian novella could encapsulate a country roughly equal in size to the United States east of the Mississippi Conrad s Congo is hell itself, a place where civilization won t take, where literal and metaphor darknesses converge, and where human conduct, unmoored from social Western, in other words norms, turns barbaric As Robert Edgerton shows in this crisply narrated yet sweeping work of history, the Congo is still trying to awaken from the nightmare of its past, struggling to pull free from the grip of the heart of darkness cliche Plundered for centuries for its natural resources which remain Africa s most abundant , the Congo was not always a place of horror Before the Portuguese landed on its shores at the end of the 15th century, it was a prosperous and thriving region The Congo River, the world s second longest as well as the deepest, and one of the only routes to the continent s interior, provided indigenous populations with ample means for living and trading What the Portuguese found first to exploit were people, and with the slave trade began a dizzying downward spiral of conquest and degradation that continued for centuries By the 19th century the race to explore the full length of the legendary river masked a fight for territorial and moral control among the French, Arabs, British, Germans, as well as American missionaries, all of whom dreamed of possessing Africa s very heart When King Leopold of Belgium managed to solidify control in 1885, the Congo question seemed solved His reign, of course, was almost pathological in its cruelty the true source of Conrad s horror and its grim legacy endures to this day.Edgerton documents the Congo s long, sad history with a sense of empathy with and admiration for the character of the land and its inhabitants Since independence in June 1960, the country has endured the machinations and disappointments of one dictator after another, beginning with Patrice Lumumba, and continuing through Joseph Mobutu, Laurent Kabila, and today Kabila s son, Joseph, who assumed power after his father was assassinated in January 2001 Whether called the Congo Free State, or Zaire, or the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the country remains perilously unstable.s20The Troubled Heart of Africa is the only book to give a complete history of the Congo, filling in the blanks in the country s history before the advent of Henry Stanley, David Livingstone, King Leopold, and other figures, and carrying us straight into today s headlines The Congo continues today to be the subject of intense speculation and concern, and with good reason upon it hangs the fate of sub Sahara Africa as a whole Here is a book that helps us face the stark truths of the Congo s past and appreciate both the enormous potential and uncertainty of its future.

    One thought on “The Troubled Heart of Africa: A History of the Congo”

    1. A sad story - from the horrors of the slave trade to the excesses of Leopold of Belgium who personally owned the Congo to the secession of Katanga and the subsequent wars with Uganda and Rwanda - is there any hope for Africa?

    2. This book was okay. I can't comment on the accuracy of its contents, as I am not well acquainted with the history of the Congo. I felt that the book was very dense and had a tendency to be depressing, though the latter I'd probably due to the subject material. I really can't say much else

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