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Customer Review

27 December 2010
This book is the account by Herbert Hoover of the early years of his life, and covers the way he became a mining engineer, his adventures in Australia and China, and the main part, which traces his work with the Begian Relief committee during the First World War. I have no way of knowing how accurate the Belgian part of the book is, but certainly, the early part is written by Hoover in a way that casts him in a favourable light, so I would expect that the remainder also paints him more positively than others might have done.

In Australia he tells of how he 'developed' a gold mine for Bewick Moreing, a company of which he rapidly acquired a major and eventual controlling interest, and his role in negotiating and wheeler-dealing in China on mining concessions. He paints himself as an ethical and astute businessman in the murky and dishonest world of mining speculation.

Contemporary sources however, had a very different picture of him. He is, to say the least,stretching the truth when he talks of his role in developing the Sons of Gwalia mine - where he was manager for a scant five months before being shipped off to China as a result of Bewick Moreing's Western Australain agent refusing to work with 'such a bumptious young man'. Other authors also are less complimentary about his role in China , where, as a result of his self-serving double dealing, the Chinese Government had to resort to a court case in London to regain their assets. At that court, the judge came down in favour of the Chinese, and indicated that there was also a criminal case to answer against Moreing and Hoover - the Chinese Government however did not pursue the matter. Hoover of course, says he 'won' the case. Whatever happened, he certainly ended up a very rich man as a result of his dealings.( for an alternative view of him read John Hamill, The Strange Career of Mr Hoover under Two Flags,(1931) reprinted by Kessinger Publishing - also avaialble through Amazon)
Whatever his merits as a President of the USA, this book should be read as an attempt to sanitise his early life and to justify his role in a number of murky episodes. I would expect that his role in Belgium would show the same 'economy with the truth'

Bear that in mind when you read it - and certainly it makes interesting reading provided you take what he says with a pinch of salt.
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