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Ebook The King Incorporated: Leopold the Second and the Congo by Neal Ascherson read! Book Title: The King Incorporated: Leopold the Second and the Congo
Language: English
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 346 KB
v The author of the book: Neal Ascherson
Edition: Granta Books (UK)
Date of issue: June 1st 2001
ISBN: 1862072906
ISBN 13: 9781862072909
City - Country: No data

Read full description of the books The King Incorporated: Leopold the Second and the Congo:

"BELGIUM DOESN'T EXPLOIT THE WORLD"

Or so wrote the Duke of Brabant in 1863, "it's a taste we have got to make her learn." In the period after becoming King Leopold II of Belgium in 1865 he certainly led by example, acquiring and then exploiting the Congo "Free" State for all it was worth. Neal Ascherson's 1963 book "The King Incorporated" narrates just how the King of the Belgians achieved this feat. That story is combined with a good deal of biographical material regarding the King and the Royal Family, the history of Belgium in the period leading up to his death in 1909, and placed within the larger sphere of European history.

Leopold himself is a fairly nauseating specimen. He had cold and dictatorial relations with his own children, faced plausible accusations of having been involved in the procurement of pre-pubescent girls, and a relationship with a sixteen year old in the final years of his life. A combination of factors allowed him to procure his colony: his prestigious position as King, a precocious sense of Public Relations well ahead of his time, a vast array of colonial holding companies, a thick veneer of humanitarian verbiage, and the fact that as the King of Belgium he wasn't viewed as a threat by the larger European powers whose Scramble for Africa was then at it's height.

The weakness in the book, and it no doubt reflects the early stage research was at in 1963, is that only a small part of it deals with Leopold's ruthless exploitation of the Congo Free State. The only concrete figure that Ascherson is able to hazard regarding the cost in lives is that of the British Consul Roger Casement made in the 1900's, 3 million; modern research suggests nearer 10 million. The majority of the book is taken up with Leopold's biography, and relating the complex web of intrigues that allowed him to personally own the Congo and become immensely rich in the process.

It's a clearly written book, though the complexities of his financial manoeuvrings do require extra attention. The lack of material on the exploitation of the Congo Free State can easily be remedied by referring to Adam Hochschild's "King Leopold's Ghost", which Ascherson graciously, and accurately, refers to as "brilliant" in his 1999 introduction. As a readable history of the life and times of King Leopold, and how he created one of the most brutal and murderous European colonies in the whole sordid history of Imperialism, it is still worth reading. For an excellent narrative history of Africa and European Colonialism, that puts Leopold's Congo in context, I'd recommend Thomas Pakenham's "The Scramble for Africa".


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Read information about the author

Ebook The King Incorporated: Leopold the Second and the Congo read Online! Charles Neal Ascherson is a Scottish journalist and writer.

He was born in Edinburgh and educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge, where he read history and graduated with a triple starred first. He was described by the historian Eric Hobsbawm as "perhaps the most brilliant student I ever had. I didn't really teach him much, I just let him get on with it."


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