The Book Was Better: King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild Vs. King Leopold’s Ghost

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: You’ll never look at rubber the same way again. 

Quick synopsis: The story of King Leopold II of Belgium and how he took over. 

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: Leopold II of Belgium is responsible for the death of about 10 million Africans. Some people today still think he was a swell guy! 

Fun Fact for History Nerds: Would you like a crash course in how the legacy of imperialism has left many places in Africa still struggling to find identity? I don’t like being heavy handed, but holy hell, there is a lot of messed up stuff here. 

Book vs. Movie: If you read the book or watch the movie you will end up feeling the very same: haunted and horrified. 

When the European powers began carving up Africa, Leopold II of Belgium saw the opportunity for overseas expansion. He found a way to get a small piece on the Congo River and began a colony focused on rubber. 

So far, so good. He was bringing civilization and commerce to Africans, right? He also brought sadists who would cut off the hands of anyone who didn’t meet their quota. They didn’t give the workers the tools needed to get rubber safely and let’s just say, you may want to cry reading or watching it. 

The book and the movie/documentary tell the same story in different ways. The movie focuses on the visuals of course and shortens the whole story while obviously the book can go into much more detail. 

If you are in a good mood and want to stay that way then don’t take on either.  

Hitler is responsible for the death of 6 million Jews in the Holocaust. No intelligent human being considers him anything but the epitome of evil. Leopold is responsible for the deaths of 10 million Africans. Enough said. 

Verdict: Both are important and well done. Do both. 

If You Liked This Try: 

  • Nathaniel Philbrick, In the Heart of the Sea 
  • Ron Stallworth, Black Klansman 
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The Book Was Better: King Leopold’s Ghost by Adam Hochschild Vs. King Leopold’s Ghost
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