Under the brutal reign of terror and slave labor instituted by King Leopold II of Belgium, who ran the Congo Free State as his personal fief from 1885 to 1908, the population of the Congo was reduced by half – as many as 11 million natives were killed, making it by far the biggest crime of its time and one of the worst in all of history.

Watch Adam Hochschild talk about his book, King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa:

Miami Book Fair InternationalAuthor Discussion with Adam Hochschild

From Publishers Weekly: “Hochschild’s superb, engrossing chronicle focuses on one of the great, horrifying and nearly forgotten crimes of the century: greedy Belgian King Leopold II’s rape of the Congo, the vast colony he seized as his private fiefdom in 1885. Until 1909, he used his mercenary army to force slaves into mines and rubber plantations, burn villages, mete out sadistic punishments, including dismemberment, and committ mass murder. The hero of Hochschild’s highly personal, even gossipy narrative is Liverpool shipping agent Edmund Morel, who, having stumbled on evidence of Leopold’s atrocities, became an investigative journalist and launched an international Congo reform movement with support from Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington and Arthur Conan Doyle.”