With “Congo. The Epic History of a People” (English translation by Sam Garrett, 639 pp. Ecco/HarperCollins Publishers, April 2014) the Belgian historian, archeologist, poet, playwright and non-fiction author David Van Reybrouck wrote the first full history of the country Joseph Conrad referred to as “the heart of darkness”. Starting with fishermen’s villages of prehistoric times, over the slave traders, the arrival of Stanley, the colonisation, to independence, the 32 years of rule by Mobutu, the wars and the turbulent eastern border of today. As no other, Van Reybrouck understands that the history of Congo is in the first place the history of the Congolese people. He gives the floor to rebel leaders, hawkers, child soldiers and pop stars. Through their vivid recollections, he traces back the minor and major events that shaped the country.
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