Synopses & Reviews
Every time you use a cell phone or log on to a computer, you could be contributing to the death toll in the bloodiest, most violent region in the world: the eastern Congo. Rich in conflict minerals”--valuable resources mined in the midst of armed conflict and egregious human rights abuses--this remote and lawless land is home to deposits of gold and diamonds as well as coltan, tin, and tungsten, all critical to cell phones, computers, and other popular electronics.
In Consuming the Congo, veteran journalist and author Peter Eichstaedt goes into these killing fields to find what is behind the bloodshed, hearing the stories of those who live this nightmarish reality. He talks with survivors of villages decimated by war and miners slogging knee-deep in muck, desperately digging up the gold, tin, and coltan on which Western culture depends. While these men work with picks, shovels, and iron bars, marauding militias and renegade army units who control the mines roam the jungles, killing and raping with impunity, taking their profits, and leaving villagers to a life of grueling manual labor, brutality, and disease.
Some five million Congolese have died unnecessarily, the worst loss of human life since World War II, yet the pillaging and bloodletting continue at a frightening pace. Consuming the Congo not only explores the violence suffered by the Congolese but also examines how we, as part of the problem, can become part of the solution.
"In harrowing detail, Eichstaedt (First Kill Your Family) investigates the 'the deadliest human catastrophe since World War II,' the carnage in eastern Congo, fought for and financed by the country's stores of rare and precious resources including gold and coltan, the metal powering our cellphones and computers. As one of Eichstaedt's interviewees says, 'It is as if the blood draws the gold out of the earth.' Firsthand accounts of massacres and sexual assault so rampant it is best described as 'sexual terrorism' are juxtaposed with the desperate attempts of aid groups struggling to save civilians. The struggle to wrest control of the mining is clotted by profiteers, militias backed by Rwanda and Uganda, and an alphabet soup of aid agency acronyms. The detail can be dizzying, but Eichstaedt keeps the narrative focused. The book includes the stories of survivors, militiamen, the miners in the 'killing fields,' and recounts the Congo's role in global commerce. While the issues raised seemed daunting if not outright intractable, Eichstaedt provides counterpoint and a glimmer of hope in the form of possible reforms and legislations that could restore order to a devastated region. (June)" Publishers Weekly Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
"A powerful and long-overdue expose of greed and violence in the battle over Africas mineral wealth. . . . A harrowing and important work that shows yet again that far-flung conflicts touch closer to home that we may imagine."—Greg Campbell, author of Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path of the World's Most Precious Stones
"An exceptional book that opens up the complicated and brutal reality of life in the Democratic Republic of Congo. By explaining and connecting the violence that occurs on the ground to the products it facilitates, Eichstaedt serves up a devastating global insight into the perpetuation of violence in the DRC.” —Sarnata Reynolds, Amnesty International USA
"Eichstaedt provides counterpoint and a glimmer of hope in the form of possible reforms and legislations that could restore order to a devastated region."—Publishers Weekly
Going behind the headlines and deep into the brutal world of the Congo, this exposé examines why eastern Congo is the most dangerous place on the planet. While the Western world takes for granted its creature comforts such as cell phones or computers, five million Congolese needlessly die in the quest for the valuable minerals that make those technologies work. Much of the war-torn country has largely become lawless, overrun by warlords who exploit and murder the population for their own gain. Delving into the history of the former Belgian colony, this book exposes the horror of day-to-day life in the Congo, largely precipitated by colonial exploitation and internal strife after gaining independence. It offers not only a view into the dire situation but also examines how the Western world, a part of the problem, can become a part of the solution.
About the Author
Peter Eichstaedt is a veteran journalist and author whose work on issues pertaining to human rights has taken him all over the globe. As Africa editor for the Institute of War and Peace in Reporting in The Hague, he traveled extensively in Africa to cover war crimes and trials. He won the 2010 Colorado Book Award for history for his book First Kill Your Family and is also the author of If You Poison Us and Pirate State. His writing has appeared the Denver Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Chronicle. He lives near Denver, Colorado.