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King Leopold's Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule Paperback – 1 Jan 1991

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Product details

  • Paperback: 95 pages
  • Publisher: International Publishers Co Inc.,U.S. (1 Jan. 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0717806871
  • ISBN-13: 978-0717806874
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 12.7 x 20.3 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 338,949 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Mark Twain is the pseudonym of Samuel Langhorne Clemens (1835 - 1910). He was born and brought up in the American state of Missouri and, because of his father's death, he left school to earn his living when he was only twelve. He was a great adventurer and travelled round America as a printer; prospected for gold and set off for South America to earn his fortune. He returned to become a steam-boat pilot on the Mississippi River, close to where he had grown up. The Civil War put an end to steam-boating and Clemens briefly joined the Confederate army - although the rest of his family were Unionists! He had already tried his hand at newspaper reporting and now became a successful journalist. He started to use the alias Mark Twain during the Civil War and it was under this pen name that he became a famous travel writer. He took the name from his steam-boat days - it was the river pilots' cry to let their men know that the water was two fathoms deep.

Mark Twain was always nostalgic about his childhood and in 1876 The Adventures of Tom Sawyer was published, based on his own experiences. The book was soon recognised as a work of genius and eight years later the sequel, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, was published. The great writer Ernest Hemingway claimed that 'All modern literature stems from this one book.'

Mark Twain was soon famous all over the world. He made a fortune from writing and lost it on a typesetter he invented. He then made another fortune and lost it on a bad investment. He was an impulsive, hot-tempered man but was also quite sentimental and superstitious. He was born when Halley's Comet was passing the Earth and always believed he would die when it returned - this is exactly what happened.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 8 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Long Rave The King 3 Aug. 2007
By Kevin Black - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is Mark Twain at his political satirical most incisiveness. It was well documented that at this point in his life, Twain spoke out bravely against many of the world's atrocities and this "soliloquy" is so wry that at times it feels nearly sympathetic, a literary device that brings the reader into a greater sense of anger and disgust at the callousness of deeds and thought from the King of Belgium. Historically, it is a must read for anyone studying world history and the story of King Leopold and his influence at the Berlin conference of 1884-85 is a fascinating side note to the events and political infighting that eventually would lead to the first World War. For Twain buffs, its a departure in tone that makes it even the more fascinating.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
Is it what's really that bad that makes this book so good? 27 April 2000
By Phalin Landry - Published on
Format: Paperback
In beginning Twain's "King Leopold's Soliloquy", one immediately notices how wordy Twain is. Yet, the context plays a major role in portraying the oddity of how the king actually thought his cruelty was well deserved. This book is pure genius when it comes to irony and sarcasim. One of Twain's most horrid yet thought provoking novels.
10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
By C. Alexander - Published on
Format: Paperback
mark twain's accounts of king leopold's rule in the congo and the colonization of it by the belguims speak of a known but least talked about african holocaust in the congo. over ten million people murdered. congolese people enslaved, mutilated, whipped, tortured, and ect. all under the orders of leopold and belguim. it shows how imperialism in the congo raped the region of its vast resources such as gold, diamonds, cobalt, maganese, rubber and fruit products. this book should definately be read by all, eventhough it a small book, its very powerful and needed. i highly recommend it.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Essential and Unforgettable 22 July 2010
By Bill R. Moore - Published on
Format: Paperback
"King Leopold's Soliloquy" is one of Mark Twain's most incisive and important works and deserves to be as famous as his best-known. He had previously written "The Czar's Soliloquy," a vicious satire on Nicholas II's rule purportedly from the czar's own perspective; this uses the same device for Belgium's Leopold, cutting to the very heart of his brutal Congo rule. Though less well-known than some later events, Leopold's Congo reign is one of modern history's saddest events - an unimaginably horrific time of murder, exploitation, racism, and more. The events behind it were part of the lead up to World War I and are generally the kind of history everyone should know, lest it happen again. Twain was one of several world figures to denounce Leopold, most famously here. The work is hard to categorize; though a fictional soliloquy, it is filled with facts and is historically and biographically plausible. It is a good place for anyone wanting to know more about the event to start, though it helps to have some knowledge before reading. The piece is important as a rare example of literature having a very real effect on world problems, as it played a significant role in leading to reform, and it still has great historical value. However, it is also sadly still relevant; colonialism, racism, xenophobia, ethnocentrism, and the other unsavory traits leading to Leopold's rule unfortunately remain, and this work will be powerful as long as they do. Twain bitterly denounces intolerance, religious hypocrisy, imperialism, and other evils more heart-wrenchingly here than anywhere else, which truly says much. Few works have more fire and venom; it brims with the vitriol of a deeply stirred soul. This is also a good example of the cynical misanthropy infusing the later Twain. Even at third-hand in this semi-fictional guise, even after more than a century, the bare recital of Leopold's crimes is almost painful to even read; almost no one who has ever lived can even imagine what it must have been like to actually suffer through them. The soliloquy is so viscerally powerful that I had to take several breaks from reading and was tempted to take more; it indeed took a considerable effort to finish. An enduring triumph to Twain's deep-rooted humanitarianism, this is satire and political writing at its best. Anyone even remotely interested in Twain or the Congo Free State must of course read it, but so should everyone. Works of such insight and fervor are very rare and should be a part of the collective conscience. It is available in collections - such as Library of America's Tales, Sketches, Speeches, and Essays 1891-1910 - but well worth reading in itself.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Belgians in the Congo! 12 July 2010
By J. Edgar Mihelic - Published on
Format: Paperback
In Billy Joel's song _We Didn't Start the Fire_, there are a lot of lyrics that seem nonsensical unless you can get a hold of a written copy of the lyrics. One of the lines that you don't an interpreter to understand is the words: "Belgians in the Congo". When I was younger I just thought that that was a key word for a generalized dislike of all imperialism.
Naturally, as a product of the American school system, I did not have my earlier ideas refuted. I have learned only tangentially of the horrors that stands behind the idea of what "Belgians in the Congo" really means. It means more than imperialism. What it means is one of the first stabs at genocide in the world, decimating the people of central Africa to take advantage of the natural resources.

King Leopold of Belgium's reign in the Congo was lamentable for many, and a point of inspitation for too many. The actions taken prefigured a bloody twentieth century where the powerful make the powerless submit or be disfigured or killed. As one of the main human rights issues of the time (as the nineteenth century turned into the twentieth), not just King Leopold was at fault, but the entire industrialized was complicit in allowing its continuance.

Twain saw the hypocrisy in allowing this to continue, and penned this fine text against the atrocities of the Congo. He takes the persona of King Leopold himself, embattled by the reformers who wish him to change. By taking this voice, or master satirist shows why he in many ways is still the conscious of our country. The argument is made with such force I wanted to go out and do what I could to stop them, even if they are too far away to reverse.

The Soliloquy itself is short, and padded out with extra explanatory detail and historical context the book is still under a hundred pages. I read through it quickly and enjoyed the contextual material. I might search out more of this untold history, but nothing can have the voice Twain gives Leopold.
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