From Publishers Weekly
Goodman (The Rattlesnake
), an honorary research associate at London's Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine, chronicles the dangerous 1910s quest of British activist Roger Casement to publicize the human rights abuses against local Indians by brutal Peruvian rubber baron Julio César Arana's Peruvian Amazon Company. British envoy Casement's 700-plus–page report on the mass violence and deaths of 30,000 natives to produce an international rubber surplus was published by the House of Commons, and Arana's empire was eventually dismantled, but not before economic and political pressures were used to threaten Casement and Britain's global colonial policy as well. The book is most fascinating when detailing Arana's bold skirmishes with Casement in the media and in the courts. Well researched and exquisitely told, Goodman's account of one brave man bringing down a cruel business empire is worthy of attention. 8 pages of b&w illus.(Feb.)
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The famous Irish patriot who was executed as a traitor in 1916 by the British government, Roger Casement had been a British diplomat whose last posting is the subject of this thoroughly researched study. Dispatched by the Foreign Office to Amazonian Peru to investigate atrocities against Indian rubber workers, Casement was the obvious choice for such a mission, Goodman explains, because he exposed Belgium’s colonial brutalities in the Congo. This time, Casement encountered an opponent of wily tenacity and bottomless chicanery. He was Julio César Arana, whose employment practices were described and published in London based on the testimony of Walter Hardenburg, an American who in 1909 emerged from a hair-raising traverse of Arana’s tropical rubber empire with stories of enslaved, tortured, and murdered Indians. While covering the governmental machinery moving in the background of Casement’s inquiry, Goodman highlights the care and savvy with which Casement undertook his assignment. Goodman’s research shows well here, and his pacing will hook readers interested in colonialism, human rights, or Casement himself. --Gilbert Taylor