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Selling the Congo: A History of European Pro-Empire Propaganda and the Making of Belgian Imperialism Hardcover – January 1, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"[Selling the Congo contributes] to a broader understanding of the impact of colonialism on colonial powers."—Geert Castryck, H-Net
(Geert Castryck H-Net)

"The breadth of topics covered in this book is wide—each of them could fill a separate monograph. It is to Stanard's credit that he is able to pull them together. . . . Scholars of other European empires seeking to gain comparative knowledge will find this book useful."—Sarah Van Beurden, H-France
(Sarah Van Beurden H-France)

"Matthew Stanard's Selling the Congo looks to expand our view of European colonial culture and consider the new understandings of empire in a different context, that of Belgian imperialism and pro-empire propaganda."—Elizabeth Stice, H-Empire
(Elizabeth Stice H-Empire)

"[Selling the Congo is] a useful addition to the growing body of 'end of empire' retrospectives that explore the impact of imperial expansion on the social imaginary of the European population."—Crawford Young, The Historian
(Crawford Young The Historian)

“A welcome addition to studies of the imperial metropole. . . . Written in a clear and very direct style, which makes it accessible to a broad audience, including undergraduates.”—David Ciarlo, American Historical Review
(David Ciarlo American Historical Review)

About the Author

Matthew G. Stanard is an associate professor of history at Berry College. His articles have appeared in publications such as the Journal of Contemporary History, French Colonial History, and European History Quarterly.

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 408 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press (January 1, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0803237774
  • ISBN-13: 978-0803237773
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,798,219 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Matthew Stanard was born in Williamsburg, Virginia. After living in Chicago, Brussels, Atlanta, and Washington, D.C., among other places, he returned to the South in 2006 to become an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Berry College in Mount Berry, Georgia. He received his Ph.D. in Modern European History from Indiana University-Bloomington where he worked with the late William B. Cohen. Stanard has published a number of works on 19th and 20th Century European history and culture with an emphasis on European overseas imperialism in Africa. He lives in Rome, Georgia, with his wife Noemi and sons Marlon and Ivan.

You can read Stanard's Aug. 2015 reddit "AMA" on Selling the Congo here: https://www.reddit.com/r/AskHistorians/comments/3iaa08/ama_selling_the_congo_and_belgian_imperialism/

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This book offers insights that are both detailed and unique in the body of literature available on such a unique topic. Without a considerable background in the history of Belgian influence in Africa this book will be difficult to understand. The methodical effort to expose Belgian propaganda over a period of years is both compelling at times as well as confusing. The author falls short of conspiracy theory but does imply over time that official responsibility could have been taken to avoid the deceptive image that the country has allowed itself to be saddled with in its treatment of official policy toward the Congolese people. Great detail is offered about the use of expositions, World's Fairs, and other exhibitions that portrayed their African subjects as the beneficiary of the Belgian's altruistic acculturation. No doubt such an effort was more palatable than to say, "Here is how we sucked the life out of the Congo" and left behind a legacy of violence, extraction, and memorials to our good works.

To understand this work best, I recommend at the very least reading King Leopold's Ghost and The Scramble for Africa to understand how this legacy required the propaganda efforts that Stanard articulates. The Congolese people today are much more sophisticated and there are many scholars with African heritage who have written about these issues from their personal experiences that also provide a complementary picture of this issue. The Congo from Leopold to Kabila by Georges Nzongola-Ntalaja is just such a book and it will allow you further clarity of how the manipulative PR from the Belgians was being processed by those who were the possible victims. The book is quite expensive because of the academic and limited circulation but I recommend it highly for those who are looking for this kind of detail.
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