At The Heart Of Africa Is Congo, A Country The Size Of Western Europe, Bordering Nine Other Nations, That Since Has Been Wracked By A Brutal And Unstaunchable War In Which Millions Have Died And Yet, Despite Its Epic Proportions, It Has Received Little Sustained Media Attention In This Deeply Reported Book, Jason K Stearns Vividly Tells The Story Of This Misunderstood Conflict Through The Experiences Of Those Who Engineered And Perpetrated It He Depicts Village Pastors Who Survived Massacres, The Child Soldier Assassin Of President Kabila, A Female Hutu Activist Who Relives The Hunting And Methodical Extermination Of Fellow Refugees, And Key Architects Of The War That Became As Great A Disaster As And Was A Direct Consequence Of The Genocide In Neighboring Rwanda Through Their Stories, He Tries To Understand Why Such Mass Violence Made Sense, And Why Stability Has Been So Elusive Through Their Voices, And An Astonishing Wealth Of Knowledge And Research, Stearns Chronicles The Political, Social, And Moral Decay Of The Congolese State A superb look at the tragedy that is DR Congo, through the eyes of a journalist who never afraid to go right to his sources What is special about this book is that Stearns never lets you forget that he was covering the conflict and the aftermath as a journalist, it made you feel that you were going along with him interviewing victims and perpetrators of one of the greatest tragedies of all times Stearns angle for Dancing in the Glory of Monsters was not to point fingers at individuals though in some cases it was truly unavoidable , but rather to showcase that the Congolese themselves were victims of colonial rule, Cold War gamesmanship, and neglect as a whole and this he did brilliantly.I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in modern history. In the hundred years of bloodshed that was the 20th century, the Congo War is a tragedy that has mostly been ignored by the West, and forgotten by history Something like five million people died, placing the Congo War as the the 6th largest mass killing in the 20th century, the deadliest event since the Second World War, and the 27th largest in recorded history, according to The Great Big Book of Horrible Things And there is a reason for this, beyond Western dismissals of Africa in general As Stearns puts it in his introduction, How do you cover a war that involves at least twenty different rebel groups and the armies of nine countries, yet does not seem to have a clear cause or objective Stearns does his best, using his skills as an investigative journalist to move through the key players in a rolling series of conflicts that started with the Rwandan Genocide in 1994, and linger today, despite a peace conference in 2002 While no one can speak for all the dead, Stearns tries, letting the survivors of genocidal attacks, epidemic ridden refugee camps, death marches, mass rape, and induction into armies of child soldiers tell their stories in their own words It is impossible not to be moved.On the broader political front, Stearns has a lot to say about the failures of institutions The Congo was systematically hollowed out, first by the colonial slave trade, then the nightmare of King Leopold s Free State, and then by the decades long rule of Mobutu S s Seko, who turned divide and rule into an art, leaving a military that was incapable of conducting a coup against him, but also incapable of mounting any sort of defense against the innumerable rebel groups, foreign armies, and bandit gangs who rose up in the void When the Rwandan government sought vengeance on Hutu g nocidaires who had fled to the Congo with millions of refugee hostages and were planning a return, the Congo was unable to resist Rebel leader and new President Laurent Kabila had barely a year before the international coalition that installed him tried to oust him This aggression, undoubtedly Tutsi lead, inspired retaliation against the Tutsi minority inside the Congo, and instigated a spiral of ethnic violence It s impossible to blame people for turning to their primary loyalties, their family and ethnic group, and also impossible not to see the political exacerbation of ethnic tension as a major driver of violence Whatever one s affiliation, it is too easy to see people with differently shaped noses as vermin to be exterminated.There s also plenty of military daring and horrific absurdity to go around Rwandan military plans involved marching 1,000 miles from the border to Kinshasa, about the same distance as Moscow to Berlin, except this time it s through practically trackless jungle Congolese soldiers deserted in droves, their armor heavy columns cut to shreds by motivated guerrilla bands of child soldiers Laurent Kabila s authoritarian regime imposed taxes which would come to 230% of profits, if they were ever payed At one of the collapses of the government, the minister of finance announced Gentlemen, I have taken the precaution of emptying the treasury It is in bags in trucks outside You each get 22,000 Do the best that you can As I write this, President Joseph Kabila is planning to step down after elections in December 2018, after unconstitutionally extending his rule for two years, and the country may be slipping into war again It s hard to fault the international community for not doing , in a country with such terrible infrastructure, and without a clear moral narrative to support There s always money to be made in turmoil, with the Congo s mineral wealth is available to the daring and unscrupulous The people of the Congo deserve better If not justice, they at least deserve a honor memorial for their dead. The depressing nexus of corruption, kleptomania, incessant internecine warfare, nepotism and unrelenting violence seems to be somewhere in central Africa Because this year is the 25th anniversary of the Rwandan genocide, the horrific events have been the subject of oversimplified perspectives Insipid optimism appeared in the PBS Newshour vignette The Wall Street Journal Walter Russell Mead finds optimism in Paul Kagame The Washington Post Ignatius Ssuuna article features a self indulgent effulgence from Kagame Kagame says We Rwandans have granted ourselves a new beginning We exist in a state of permanent commemoration, every day, in all that we do Today, light radiates from this place Not to miss an occasion for hypocritical posturing, the commemorative events featured guest appearances by European dignitaries To cut through this blather and achieve a thorough understanding of the extremely complex dynamics provoking the genocide, Kearn s book is the reference standard The cynical reader will find validation that Africa is the Third World s Third World and it s the place hope goes to die.though that s not the author s intent.This book is the long read on the conflict Jason Kearns has over a decade of first hand experience in central Africa and has studied the colonial history carefully He interviewed many of the principle political actors, military and militia commanders, soldiers and civilians Stearns conveys a thorough and detailed picture, complete with all relevant social, political, environmental, business and military tactical strategic dimensions of the multi dimensional problems afflicting the region.Though many might not know it, over 5 million people have died during the course of the various conflicts involving the Congo Compared to important events like the Kardashian Saga, this complex mess hasn t maintained public interest When it does reach the surface, it oftentimes written off with facile explanations and guilt is washed away with bromides on reconciliation a PBS specialty The confluence of corporate profiteering lubricated by unscrupulous politicians, doctrinaire and disengaged leaders, tribalism, corruption and the basest aspects of human nature all appear in starring roles.Stearns puts all this into appropriate perspective and concludes with an insightful summary While the author doesn t concede that this is an essentially hopeless mess, it probably is Worse, these fragile societies are being destabilized by climate change In other words, expect to come in the near term future.The book suffers from a few minor shortcomings There are 5 maps including refugee migration paths and invasion routes but they are not referenced in the text Many similar sounding names appear but there s no glossary An event timeline would be useful, but there isn t one On the other hand, acronyms are frequent but they appear in a table.Though the book was published several years ago, it remains useful and it s amazingly current If for no other reason, the presence of valuable minerals diamonds, gold, tantalum and many others will attract players from neighboring countries and corporate interests internationally Enduring disputes over land and resources will continue to set the stage for war Growing populations experiencing worsening living conditions will probably catalyze future conflicts It s very hard to avoid the conclusion that the Congo is the stage where the Monster Mash unfolds Even Che Guevara gave up on the place, but Jason Stearns hasn t.
En tant qu’auteur connu, certains de ses livres fascinent les lecteurs, comme dans le livre Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa , qui est l’un des lecteurs les plus recherchés Jason Stearns auteurs dans le monde.
- Audio CD
- Dancing in the Glory of Monsters: The Collapse of the Congo and the Great War of Africa
- Jason Stearns
- English, English
- 12 March 2019 Jason Stearns