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War over a Handful of Corn

Adam Hochschild: Ryszard Kapuściński, 21 June 2001

The Shadow of the Sun: My African Life 
by Ryszard Kapuściński, translated by Klara Glowczewska.
Penguin, 336 pp., £18.99, June 2001, 9780713994551
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... For the sake of a single verse,’ the famous passage from Rilke runs, one must see many cities, men and things . . . One must be able to think back to roads in unknown regions, to unexpected meetings and to partings . . . And still it is not yet enough to have memories . . . Not till they have turned to blood within us, to glance and gesture, nameless and no longer to be distinguished from ourselves – not till then can it happen that in a most rare hour the first word of a verse arises in their midst and goes forth from them ...


Dan Jacobson: King Leopold II, 1 April 1999

King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror and Heroism in Central Africa 
by Adam Hochschild.
Macmillan, 366 pp., £22.50, April 1999, 0 333 66126 5
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... his hirelings in the Congo Free State fed his appetites and their own, is certainly one of them. Adam Hochschild has taken most of the material for his new book from published sources; but about that I have no inclination to complain. Far from it. The findings of specialist historians have constantly to be ‘translated’ for the benefit of general ...

Into the Net

Neal Ascherson: Records of the Spanish Civil War, 15 December 2016

Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-39 
by Adam Hochschild.
Macmillan, 438 pp., £25, April 2016, 978 1 5098 1054 3
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¡No Pasarán! Writings from the Spanish Civil War 
edited by Pete Ayrton.
Serpent’s Tail, 393 pp., £20, April 2016, 978 1 84668 997 0
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The Last Days of the Spanish Republic 
by Paul Preston.
William Collins, 390 pp., £25, February 2016, 978 0 00 816340 2
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A Distant Heartbeat: A War, a Disappearance and a Family’s Secrets 
by Eunice Lipton.
New Mexico, 165 pp., £18.50, April 2016, 978 0 8263 5658 1
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... in tragedy and a viciously disputed memory and made little difference to the war’s outcome. Adam Hochschild, in Spain in Our Hearts, suggests that the foreign journalists covering the war were so obsessed with the military struggle and the Republican leadership in Madrid that they hardly noticed the revolution going on outside their hotels. And yet ...

The crocodiles gathered

Neal Ascherson: Patrice Lumumba, 4 October 2001

The Assassination of Lumumba 
by Ludo De Witte, translated by Ann Wright and Renée Fenby.
Verso, 224 pp., £17, July 2001, 1 85984 618 1
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... role in Lumumba’s fall and death. This narrowness of focus is very necessary and welcome. As Adam Hochschild found when he came to write King Leopold’s Ghost,* the obduracy and arrogance of the Belgian establishment about their country’s behaviour in Africa are unique in post-colonial Europe. They apologise for nothing. To them, and they hope ...

A Man of No Mind

Colm Tóibín: The Passion of Roger Casement, 13 September 2012

The Dream of the Celt 
by Mario Vargas Llosa and Edith Grossman.
Faber, 404 pp., £18.99, June 2012, 978 0 571 27571 7
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... In his book King Leopold’s Ghost, Adam Hochschild describes the stretch of the Congo River as it approaches the sea: Much of the Congo River basin, we now know, lies on a plateau in the African interior. From the western rim of this plateau, nearly a thousand feet high, the river descends to sea level in a mere 220 miles ...

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