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Known as "the Leopard," the president of Zaire for thirty-two years, Mobutu Sese Seko, showed all the cunning of his namesake -- seducing Western powers, buying up the opposition, and dominating his people with a devastating combination of brutality and charm. While the population was pauperized, he plundered the country's copper and diamond resources, downing pink champagne in his jungle palace like some modern-day reincarnation of Joseph Conrad's crazed station manager.

Michela Wrong, a correspondent who witnessed Mobutu's last days, traces the rise and fall of the idealistic young journalist who became the stereotype of an African despot. Engrossing, highly readable, and as funny as it is tragic, In the Footsteps of Mr. Kurtz assesses the acts of the villains and the heroes in this fascinating story of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Published: HarperCollins on Oct 13, 2009
ISBN: 9780061863615
List price: $10.99
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The story of the fall of both Joseph Mobutu and the Congo (formally called Zaire). The book describes how Mobutu used the profits from the copper and diamond mines and the help of the indifferent West to pay his political cronies for political support and to purchase numerous lavish items, including mansions, champagne, boats and many flights on the Concorde super jet for his family. Obviously this had an enormous effect on the Zairian economy. Mobutu's style of raping the state for his and his cronies benefit created an everyman for himself mentality, where soldiers pillaged the citizens, diamond were smuggled, mail stolen and sold on the black market, farms and businesses nationalized and given to "Big Vegetables" to rape and destroy for their own gain.Mobutu’s “policies” also had lasting effects on the population. For nearly a century, the people of the Congo had to survive under the brutal force of King Leopold and the Force Publique. Then, a short time later, the country was taken over by Mobutu and ruled in the style of Leopold’s henchmen. This has left the population feeling helpless against the state and never reaching beyond survival. Wrong’s style is clear, vivid and concise. She does a great job giving the reader enough information to understand the sad destruction of one of the largest nations in Africa, while also giving the story a very personal voice.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whew. A book you read, thinking, I wish this had never happened….please don’t let this be true. So jarring it leaves you despairing about Africa. Surely there must be happy stories there; not all can be tales of greed and corruption.read more
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.

Reviews

The story of the fall of both Joseph Mobutu and the Congo (formally called Zaire). The book describes how Mobutu used the profits from the copper and diamond mines and the help of the indifferent West to pay his political cronies for political support and to purchase numerous lavish items, including mansions, champagne, boats and many flights on the Concorde super jet for his family. Obviously this had an enormous effect on the Zairian economy. Mobutu's style of raping the state for his and his cronies benefit created an everyman for himself mentality, where soldiers pillaged the citizens, diamond were smuggled, mail stolen and sold on the black market, farms and businesses nationalized and given to "Big Vegetables" to rape and destroy for their own gain.Mobutu’s “policies” also had lasting effects on the population. For nearly a century, the people of the Congo had to survive under the brutal force of King Leopold and the Force Publique. Then, a short time later, the country was taken over by Mobutu and ruled in the style of Leopold’s henchmen. This has left the population feeling helpless against the state and never reaching beyond survival. Wrong’s style is clear, vivid and concise. She does a great job giving the reader enough information to understand the sad destruction of one of the largest nations in Africa, while also giving the story a very personal voice.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
Whew. A book you read, thinking, I wish this had never happened….please don’t let this be true. So jarring it leaves you despairing about Africa. Surely there must be happy stories there; not all can be tales of greed and corruption.
Is this review helpful? Yes | NoThank you for your feedback.
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