Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Roland the headless Thompson gunner*

Even though we are about to leave for Brazil, I have recently finished reading 4 books about the Congo. All are good, two especially so.

1. King Leopold's Ghost. 

Excellent book about Leopold, Stanley, the operations of the "Congo Free State" and the people who tried to expose it. Highly recommended.

2. Chief of Station, Congo: Fighting the cold war in a hot zone. 

Interesting account of the events around independence, the murder of Lumumba and the rise of Mobutu. Marred however, by the author's repeated attempts to portray himself as a combination of Gary Cooper, Jackie Chan, & Jesus.

3. In the footsteps of Mr. Kurtz: Living on the brink of disaster in Mobutu's Congo.

Documents, on the macro level, the corruption machine that was Mobutu. Tries to do Kremlinology, Congo style, on his courtiers and family. The whole Mr. Kurtz tie in was strained as was the tact of starting at the end before jumping back to the beginning. I struggled a bit to finish this one. I did like very much the idea that the reign of Leopold paved the way for the reign of Mobutu that the author argues for passionately.

4. Facing the Congo.

First person account of an American's quest to descend the Congo river on a pirogue "solo" (quotes because he ends up with a guide and a soldier). This was my favorite of the bunch. It puts you inside what Leopold + Mobutu had created in the Congo and doesn't let you out. The book puts in the human side that book #3 really glosses over.
Probably best read last if you are going to read any of the others. Gets Angus's highest recommendation.

*(he killed to earn a living and to help out the Congolese)


Anonymous said...

I have just found this blog and it is very interesting. I voted for Mike Munger for Governor but having just seen that he attended and spoke to the teabag event in April I am bvery dissapointed. I did not know he subscribed to Fox New, Rush L type conspiracy theory.

Of course some of the stimulus spending is stimulative - we are having roads paved here in NC that would not otherwise be done. So do not exagerate. Some of it is coming back as a temporary tax cut etc.

Mike was someone I respected but if he goes down the hard right, lets question Obama's birth certificate route then he loses mine and many others vote.

By the way why did Munger poll less than Chris Cole who was the LP candidate for Senate. There was much more publicity for Munger. Umm interesting question.

Yail Bloor said...


Rolo Tomasi said...

You can say "Owwooooooooo!" if you have the right lay over.