It is hard to explain all the emotions that this book encapsulates. It feels as if everything that has happened, everything that is happening, and everything that will happen has been captured by Eduardo Galeano in this masterpiece.
I remember reading this book in the summer a couple years ago, when all of a sudden it started to rain. Instead of going inside, I felt as if the book had frozen me in place and I would not be able to move until I had digested the entirety of its contents and freed myself from its spell.
This book truly does cast a spell on the reader; as one is transported through space and time witnessing how natural resources in Latin America, whether it is silver, gold, or coffee are all used to enrich the wealth of greedy rich white men while local populations suffer under miserable conditions.
Eduardo Galeano challenges the role the IMF has in helping developing countries. The IMF, or as I refer to them as the Inept Moronic Fools, believe that they are the only ones capable of helping struggling nations rebuild their economies. Yet Galeano criticizes the IMF for taking advantage of Latin American countries, “Economic recession, monetary instability, the credit drought, and a decline in internal purchasing power all helped to capsize national industry and put it at the mercy of imperialist corporation. The IMF has imposed on Latin America a policy that accentuates imbalances instead of easing them.”
Always be wary of wolves that are disguised in sheep’s’ clothing. Maybe this book isn’t actually a book, but rather a beacon that is being passed down through generations by those who remember in order to protect the world against those who forget.
I know I really should be drinking an IPA when talking about the British East India Company. IPAs were brewed specially to help Brits colonize India. Brewers had to add more hops in order for the beer to travel better and also increased the alcohol content which probably made pillaging an entire subcontinent a little easier.
This is a story of uninhibited corporate greed, how a shockingly few number of men sitting in an office on a small island thousands of miles away from India, made terrible decisions that had dreadful consequences on 200 million people. The men who worked for the East India Company were not responsible to the Indians they were ruling, they were only concerned with protecting the interests of the investors. That is the real problem with these mega-corporations, they care more about money than they do about people. In normal times this is just plain evil, but when there is drought and famine this policy becomes genocidal.
When those in charge of running a country do not make plans for the worst-case scenario and only think about revenues and expenses, it can lead to serious devastation. During the famine of 1770, “The East India Company administration as a whole did not engage in any famine relief works… Instead, anxious to maintain their revenues at a time of low production and high military expenditure, the Company, in one of the greatest failures of corporate responsibility in history, rigorously enforced tax collection and in some cases even increased revenue assessments by 10 percent.” This is a serious criminal act that led to the death of ten million Indians, who in the direst hour of need got no relief from the British, who were too busy counting up their profits to care.
This book should serve as a reminder to everyone who questions why modern corporations need to be broken up, they don’t care about people, they aren’t responsible to governments, they are only focused on keeping revenues up and costs down.
America became a superpower through slavery, white supremacy, and capitalism.
America’s founding fathers loved to justify the Revolutionary War with the catchphrase “taxation without representation.” But what did they want to do with that representation? Expand our country even more into Native American lands by any means necessary, aka genocide. What to do with all this land?
Grow crops like tobacco, sugar, and cotton. But this work is hard and painful so we need a labor force. Shit we killed too many of the Indians we need to find someone else to do it. But who? Africans, they are neither White nor Christian, so really we would be doing them a favor by bringing them in chains across and ocean and enslaving them on our plantations. You’re welcome. Wait, why are you trying to run away? Fine, we will create a police force whose main goal is to bring back our property that keeps on escaping.
Schools need to start teaching students, the history of why innocent black men, women, and children are being shot and killed by police. I believe this book is the perfect place to start, Gerald Horne does a phenomenal job describing how the enslavement of Africans and Indigenous populations benefited their white masters. America became a superpower on the backs of their slaves, it is about time that we begin to pay them back.
This is a fantastic history written by David Van Reybrouck, who is able to shed light on a country featured in Joseph Conrad's "The Heart of Darkness." Like Kurtz in the novel, the reader is slowly transported up the Congo River into a world that shows the full range of human emotion.