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Land of Tears

Land of Tears

The Exploration and Exploitation of Equatorial Africa

A prizewinning historian’s epic account of the scramble to control equatorial Africa

In just three decades at the end of the nineteenth century, the heart of Africa was utterly transformed. Virtually closed to outsiders for centuries, by the early 1900s the rainforest of the Congo River basin was one of the most brutally exploited places on earth. In Land of Tears, historian Robert Harms reconstructs the chaotic process by which this happened. Beginning in the 1870s, traders, explorers, and empire builders from Arabia, Europe, and America moved rapidly into the region, where they pioneered a deadly trade in ivory and rubber for Western markets and in enslaved labor for the Indian Ocean rim. Imperial conquest followed close behind.

Ranging from remote African villages to European diplomatic meetings to Connecticut piano-key factories, Land of Tears reveals how equatorial Africa became fully, fatefully, and tragically enmeshed within our global world.

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Genre: Nonfiction / History / Africa

On Sale: December 3rd 2019

Price: $35 / $44 (CAD)

Page Count: 544

ISBN-13: 9780465028634

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


"In this unwaveringly detailed account of the colonization of central Africa, Robert Harms draws on four decades of scholarly expertise to write a history at once regional and truly global. A tale of soldiers, slave-traders, captives and kings, of principles betrayed and societies destroyed-for anyone interested in capitalism and empire, this book is as devastating as it is important."—Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch: Joseph Conrad in a Global World
"Land of Tears provides a vivid account of the period before the 'Scramble for Africa,' when European explorers frantically created beachheads for imperial expansion and the carving up of equatorial Africa. In this major contribution, Robert Harms reveals the intertwined interests of global trading networks that plundered and wreaked havoc in the Congo Basin."Ch. Didier Gondola, author of The History of the Congo
"Land of Tears is a brilliant and beautifully written book on a crucial moment in the colonial history of Central Africa. Robert Harms reveals the global and local contexts of the complex transformations of African societies in the last decades of the nineteenth century, with a special focus on the rainforest ecosystem and the strong local African resistance. An erudite, balanced, and timely book, and an engaging read."—Frits Andersen, Aarhus University
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