02 January, 2009

2008 Book List

I read 30 books this year (pathetic I know!) - on an unrelated note I went through 5 journals too! I went through periods when I could not concentrate long enough to read a sentence, and times when I could finish a book in day. I once said I wanted to read a book a week, and having 2 hours a day on the metro, I really should be closer to my goal!

Here is my Top 10:
Top Ten
1 - King Leopold's Ghost
2 - God of the Small Things
3 - 3 Cups of Tea
4 - Compassion
5 - The Road
6 - Eat Pray Love
7 - Snow
8 - Into the Wild
9 - Sold
10 - Native Sun

A good mix I thing. I will try to write about what I liked about each of them, that should keep me busy for a day or two :-). See the whole list here.

King Leopold's Ghost is a historical account of the Belgium colony and how it was colonialized, butchered, and raped for its resources. It is amazing to me how clever Leopold was. Very few people saw through his duplicity, and, according to Hochschild, it all stemmed from a lack of affection in childhood. Leopold could never get enough and for his greed the population of the Zaire was halved.

KLG also showed me the failure of diplomacy, that still exists today. At the time colonial powers were fighting to carve of the world of "savages." White men treated the world like a game of Risk - and millions of innocent people died because of their greed and assumed superiority. Our world still reels from the consequences of colonialism and its oppression. Today, the DRC is no different. And yet, even after Leopold, we helped create it. We looked horrified at what he could have done, then turned around, assassinated their elected president and put Mobutu in charge - who was not better than Leopold. And now today we are funding Nkunda through the Rwandan government who is partially responsible for keeping the DRC unstable.

Things never change.

The book spells out how Booker T. Washington, Arthur Conan Doyle and Edmund Morel fought the atrocity they saw. Heart of Darkness far from being an allegory of Conrad's views of America or war (or whatever BS your high school teacher told you) is an account of Conrad struggling to reconcile what he saw in the Congo. Read the book again, and coupled with KLG it will bring a historical light to what could have been Belgium's biggest dirty little secret.


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