"King Leopold of Belgium's exploits up the Congo River in the 1880s were central to the European partitioning of the African continent. The Congo Free State, Leopold's private colony, was a unique political construct that opened the door to the savage exploitation of the Congo's natural and human resources by international corporations. The resulting 'red rubber' scandal—which laid bare a fundamental contradiction between the European propagation of free labor and 'civilization' and colonial governments' acceptance of violence and coercion for productivity's sake—haunted all imperial powers in Africa. Featuring a clever introduction and judicious collection of documents, Michael Rutz's book neatly captures the drama of one king's quest to build an empire in Central Africa—a quest that began in the name of anti-slavery and free trade and ended in the brutal exploitation of human lives. This volume is an excellent starting point for anyone interested in the history of colonial rule in Africa." —Jelmer Vos, University of Glasgow
About the Author
Michael Rutz is Professor of History, University of Wisconsin Oshkosh.