Read King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule by Mark Twain Free Online
Book Title: King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule|
The size of the: 29.78 MB
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Loaded: 1880 times
Reader ratings: 6.6
The author of the book: Mark Twain
Edition: Grover Furr
Date of issue: March 18th 2002
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
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Beginning in the 19th century, King Leopold II of Belgium set himself up as individual private owner and absolute sovereign of the Congo Free State and proceeded to rape it of ivory and rubber and, worse, to annihilate the population through forced labor, starvation, and outright murder. Estimates of the genocide instigated at the command of this single individual range from 2,000,000 to 10,000,000 human beings, as much as 50 percent of the entire population. Of those who survived, a great proportion were left mutilated, as the chopping off of hands was the standard punishment for almost any infraction.
Little is remembered of these horrors outside of a few history courses and books. Even less is remembered about the acquiescence in the situation by many of the so-called civilized nations, most prominently the United States, Germany, Great Britain, and France. Only the relentless work of missionaries and humanitarians who spread the word to the world's peoples over many years ultimately resulted in the end of Leopold's reign of terror, though Belgium itself continued to control the Congolese colony for many years.
In a nearly-forgotten work, the great American writer known as Mark Twain created a scathing indictment of Leopold II, in the form of an imaginary speech by the king in which he denounces his critics and explains that he only did what God wanted, since if God had not wanted these atrocities, he would not have allowed a monarch by divine right to perpetrate them. Like much of Twain's darkest works, KING LEOPOLD'S SOLILOQUY is bitter satire, as worthy of Twain as of his even more bitter contemporary, Ambrose Bierce. It is a brief read, but a powerful and devastating one. That Leopold II is no longer remembered as a historical heavy fully competent to stand alongside Hitler and Pol Pot is a reminder of George Santayana's warning, "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
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Read information about the authorSamuel Langhorne Clemens, better known by his pen name Mark Twain, was an American author and humorist. He is noted for his novels Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885), called "the Great American Novel", and The Adventures of Tom Sawyer (1876).
Twain grew up in Hannibal, Missouri, which would later provide the setting for Huckleberry Finn and Tom Sawyer. He apprenticed with a printer. He also worked as a typesetter and contributed articles to his older brother Orion's newspaper. After toiling as a printer in various cities, he became a master riverboat pilot on the Mississippi River, before heading west to join Orion. He was a failure at gold mining, so he next turned to journalism. While a reporter, he wrote a humorous story, "The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County," which proved to be very popular and brought him nationwide attention. His travelogues were also well-received. Twain had found his calling.
He achieved great success as a writer and public speaker. His wit and satire earned praise from critics and peers, and he was a friend to presidents, artists, industrialists, and European royalty.
However, he lacked financial acumen. Though he made a great deal of money from his writings and lectures, he squandered it on various ventures, in particular the Paige Compositor, and was forced to declare bankruptcy. With the help of Henry Huttleston Rogers, however, he eventually overcame his financial troubles. Twain worked hard to ensure that all of his creditors were paid in full, even though his bankruptcy had relieved him of the legal responsibility.
Born during a visit by Halley's Comet, he died on its return. He was lauded as the "greatest American humorist of his age", and William Faulkner called Twain "the father of American literature".
Excerpted from Wikipedia.
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