The Epic History of A People

Book - 2014
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Hailed as "a monumental history . . . more exciting than any novel" (NRC Handelsblad),David van Reybrouck's rich and gripping epic, in the tradition of Robert Hughes' The Fatal Shore, tells the extraordinary story of one of the world's most devastated countries: the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Epic in scope yet eminently readable, penetrating and deeply moving, David van Reybrouck's Congo: The Epic History of a People traces the fate of one of the world's most critical, failed nation-states, second only to war-torn Somalia: the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Van Reybrouck takes us through several hundred years of history, bringing some of the most dramatic episodes in Congolese history. Here are the people and events that have impinged the Congo's development--from the slave trade to the ivory and rubber booms; from the arrival of Henry Morton Stanley to the tragic regime of King Leopold II; from global indignation to Belgian colonialism; from the struggle for independence to Mobutu's brutal ru≤ and from the world famous Rumble in the Jungle to the civil war over natural resources that began in 1996 and still rages today.

Van Reybrouck interweaves his own family's history with the voices of a diverse range of individuals--charismatic dictators, feuding warlords, child-soldiers, the elderly, female merchant smugglers, and many in the African diaspora of Europe and China--to offer a deeply humane approach to political history, focusing squarely on the Congolese perspective and returning a nation's history to its people.

Publisher: New York :, Ecco, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, 2014, ©2014.
ISBN: 9780062200112
Branch Call Number: 967. 51 REY
Characteristics: x, 639 pages : maps ; 24 cm.
Additional Contributors: Garrett, Sam - Translator


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Sep 18, 2015

An exhaustive (and sometimes exhausting) combination of travelogue and history that starts with colonialism and ends with where Congo is now. The subtitle is an "epic history" and it covers a lot of ground, touching on legendary figures like King Leopold, Stanley, Lumumba, and Mobutu. It is helpful to have some background on the subject before diving in and I'd recommend "King Leopold's Ghost" for non-fiction and "Heart of Darkness" for fiction. Reybrouck is Belgian and so has some personal connections to Congo as his father worked there for a time. A worthwhile book, but a bit of a tough read.

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