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The Devil and Mr. Casement: One Man's Battle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness

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THE STORY OF AN IMPERIAL TRAGEDY THAT SENT SHOCKWAVES AROUND THE WORLD In September 1910, the activist Roger Casement arrived in the Amazon jungle on a mission for the British government: to investigate reports of widespread human-rights abuses in the forests along the Putumayo River. Accusations against the Peruvian rubber baron Julio Cesar Arana had been making their way THE STORY OF AN IMPERIAL TRAGEDY THAT SENT SHOCKWAVES AROUND THE WORLD In September 1910, the activist Roger Casement arrived in the Amazon jungle on a mission for the British government: to investigate reports of widespread human-rights abuses in the forests along the Putumayo River. Accusations against the Peruvian rubber baron Julio Cesar Arana had been making their way back to London, and the rumors were on everybody's lips: Arana was enslaving, torturing, and murdering the local Indians. Arana's Peruvian Amazon Company, with its headquarters in London's financial heart, was responsible. Casement was outraged by what he uncovered: nearly 30,000 Indians had died to produce 4,000 tons of rubber. When Casement's 700-page report of the violence was published in London in 1912, it set off reverberations throughout the world. People were appalled that murderous acts were being carried out under the cloak of British respectability. The Peruvian Amazon Company was forced into liquidation, and its board of directors was publicly shamed. From the Amazonian rain forests to the streets of London and Washington, D.C., Jordan Goodman recounts a tragedy whose exposure in 1912 drew back the curtain on exploitation and the wholesale abuse of human rights. Drawing on a wealth of original research, "The Devil and Mr. Casement "is a haunting story of modern capitalism with enormous contemporary political resonance.


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THE STORY OF AN IMPERIAL TRAGEDY THAT SENT SHOCKWAVES AROUND THE WORLD In September 1910, the activist Roger Casement arrived in the Amazon jungle on a mission for the British government: to investigate reports of widespread human-rights abuses in the forests along the Putumayo River. Accusations against the Peruvian rubber baron Julio Cesar Arana had been making their way THE STORY OF AN IMPERIAL TRAGEDY THAT SENT SHOCKWAVES AROUND THE WORLD In September 1910, the activist Roger Casement arrived in the Amazon jungle on a mission for the British government: to investigate reports of widespread human-rights abuses in the forests along the Putumayo River. Accusations against the Peruvian rubber baron Julio Cesar Arana had been making their way back to London, and the rumors were on everybody's lips: Arana was enslaving, torturing, and murdering the local Indians. Arana's Peruvian Amazon Company, with its headquarters in London's financial heart, was responsible. Casement was outraged by what he uncovered: nearly 30,000 Indians had died to produce 4,000 tons of rubber. When Casement's 700-page report of the violence was published in London in 1912, it set off reverberations throughout the world. People were appalled that murderous acts were being carried out under the cloak of British respectability. The Peruvian Amazon Company was forced into liquidation, and its board of directors was publicly shamed. From the Amazonian rain forests to the streets of London and Washington, D.C., Jordan Goodman recounts a tragedy whose exposure in 1912 drew back the curtain on exploitation and the wholesale abuse of human rights. Drawing on a wealth of original research, "The Devil and Mr. Casement "is a haunting story of modern capitalism with enormous contemporary political resonance.

30 review for The Devil and Mr. Casement: One Man's Battle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    This book was a pretty fast read, interesting and very readable. I disagree with the comments that the book was too long. It's both a bio and a history, not a work of fiction. If anything, the book should have been longer, with more in-depth information on the indigenous people at the heart of the book.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Rhuff

    Despite the complaints of some, this book was not intended as a biography of Sir Roger Casement. Its focus is on the exploitation of the resources and native people of the upper Amazon, the political intrigue that nurtured it, and the criminal business-as-usual mentality that sustained it. Because the charges involved British interests - unlike the Congo - there was comparatively little international hysteria in addressing the genocidal doings along the Putumayo. This particular crusade has been Despite the complaints of some, this book was not intended as a biography of Sir Roger Casement. Its focus is on the exploitation of the resources and native people of the upper Amazon, the political intrigue that nurtured it, and the criminal business-as-usual mentality that sustained it. Because the charges involved British interests - unlike the Congo - there was comparatively little international hysteria in addressing the genocidal doings along the Putumayo. This particular crusade has been largely forgotten, remaining under the rug where it was swept by South American, US, and British diplomacy a century ago. This is instructive. This period bridges two eras: the colonial conquest - and extermination - of native peoples by European settlers and their governments; followed by the era of "totalitarian regimes". What we see is no break between the two, but continuity. These are not South American Nazis at work in this tale, but eminently respectable businessmen such as Sr. Arana and his British partners; ensconced in the financial and political world of the West, conducting the most gruesome slavery, unchallenged except by pesky mavericks like Casement. Bitterly ironic that he could be knighted by one hand, and executed by the other for "treason" - with both attached to the same body politic: indicative of the West's schizophrenia in facing up to its own moral accountability. A good accounting of an issue far from resolved at the so-called democratic "end of history."

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Rex

    This book could've been excellent if the author had found a way to cut out about 50pp. It simply runs on too long in parts. Casement is a very interesting character, but the author doesn't introduce him until 100pp+ into the book and never really indulges into his "personal characteristics" until the very end - Casement's fate did come as a surprise to me and the book left me wanting to know more about the guy and his struggles. As for the "rubber" element of the book, the author never goes comp This book could've been excellent if the author had found a way to cut out about 50pp. It simply runs on too long in parts. Casement is a very interesting character, but the author doesn't introduce him until 100pp+ into the book and never really indulges into his "personal characteristics" until the very end - Casement's fate did come as a surprise to me and the book left me wanting to know more about the guy and his struggles. As for the "rubber" element of the book, the author never goes completely down the road of a "commodity history" which could've been very interesting as well - particularly the irony of how the fate of Native Americans in the Amazon was pushed to the verge of destruction by tree-rubber and is now being further undermined and destroyed by synthetic-rubber which is produced from the oil now being extracted in the Amazon. The book is good, but it left me somewhere in the middle between a biography and a "commodity history" and it seems it would've worked better being one or the other. There are piles of connections to the modern global marketplace, particularly the exploitative sweatshop industry which is characterized by absentee, international capital with little or no concern for human rights and the brutal treatment of native populations by outsourced production companies. Sadly, since Casement's day (early 20thC) we have made little to no progress monitoring overseas investment and labor abuse in foreign countries. We may even be moving backwards - where Casement's exposure of slave-like abuse in early-20thC raised governmental and private ire, it seems today that exposure of slave-like conditions in the apparel industry earns little more than a shrug of the shoulders (and even praise from many neoliberal economists). Worth reading for those interested in Latin America, the Amazon, native populations, global economic systems, human rights and/or the early 20thC.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Margaret Sankey

    Fresh off investigating abuses in the Congo, Roger Casement, intrepid British Civil Servant, discovered the British and Americans turning a blind eye to the demented power of a Peruvian rubber baron. Using muckraking journalists, African-American activists and the still creaking machinery of the anti-slavery society in the UK, Casement crusaded on--the book overstates this as a step towards his Irish Independence martyrdom/treason, but it is useful to refuse to locate all the evil in the Congo o Fresh off investigating abuses in the Congo, Roger Casement, intrepid British Civil Servant, discovered the British and Americans turning a blind eye to the demented power of a Peruvian rubber baron. Using muckraking journalists, African-American activists and the still creaking machinery of the anti-slavery society in the UK, Casement crusaded on--the book overstates this as a step towards his Irish Independence martyrdom/treason, but it is useful to refuse to locate all the evil in the Congo or with the Belgians.

  5. 4 out of 5

    !Tæmbuŝu

    KOBOBOOKS Reviewed by The Independent KOBOBOOKS Reviewed by The Independent

  6. 5 out of 5

    Fatima

    ny times

  7. 5 out of 5

    Meaghan Alvarado

    This was interesting and eye opening, however like the other readers, there were at LEAST 50 pages that could have been cut out. The last 50 pages were repetitive/summaries.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Shannon Stanton

  9. 4 out of 5

    Loren Previti

  10. 5 out of 5

    Shaleen

  11. 5 out of 5

    Henry Bisharat

  12. 4 out of 5

    Madreader67

  13. 5 out of 5

    Landon O'Donnell

  14. 4 out of 5

    Katie

  15. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Jaeger

  16. 4 out of 5

    Kara

  17. 4 out of 5

    Daniel

  18. 5 out of 5

    daina vandervort

  19. 5 out of 5

    Nicodemus Boffin

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

  21. 4 out of 5

    Gordon Ray

  22. 4 out of 5

    Kevin

  23. 4 out of 5

    Katie (katieladyreads)

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan Scobie

  25. 5 out of 5

    Shawnee

  26. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  27. 5 out of 5

    J.A.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sabrina Carneiro

  29. 5 out of 5

    Deirdre Danklin

  30. 5 out of 5

    S

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