Synopses & Reviews
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 César Arana had been making their way back to London, and the rumors were on everybodys lips: Arana was enslaving, torturing, and murdering the local Indians. Aranas Peruvian Amazon Company, with its headquarters in Londons 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 Casements 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.
"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 Csar 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." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
“Written with detail and care…The Devil and Mr. Casement tells an important story….A valuable addition to the histories of Western exploitation at the beginning of the twentieth century.” —The Boston Globe
“A fine and meticulous book…adds to Casements reputation as a pioneer of the human rights movements tactics, including the on-the-spot investigation, and the leveraging of public outrage to spur reform.” —Greg Grandin, The New York Times Book Review
“With vivid touches of imagination and humor, Goodman captures the drama and paradox of Casements varied life.” —The New Yorker
“Goodman motors the pace and stokes suspense with cliff-hanger chapter endings and a dramatic courtroom trial….The Devil and Mr. Casement is delicately presented less as a tale of atrocities than as one of all-too-familiar corporate greed, diplomatic red tape, conflicting politics, and the shifting influence of the West in South America.” —The Miami Herald
“A fast-paced account of [a] groundbreaking effort to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds, as well as a detailed portrait of Casement.” —Mother Jones
“Goodmans journalistic narrative is a reminder of the devastation that greed can cause and the good work that can be done by a few good men.” —Shepherd Express (Milwaukee)
From the Amazonian rain forests to the streets of London and Washington, D.C., Goodman recounts a tragedy whose exposure in 1912 drew back the curtain on exploitation and the wholesale abuse of human rights.
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. Casement was outraged by what he uncovered: nearly thirty thousand Indians had died to produce four thousand tons of rubber for Peruvian and British commercial interests, under the brutal rubber baron Julio César Arana. In 1912, Casements seven-hundred-page report of the Putumayo violence set off reverberations throughout the world. Drawing on a wealth of original research, The Devil and Mr. Casement is a haunting story of modern capitalism with enormous contemporary political resonance.
About the Author
JORDAN GOODMAN has been a professional historian for thirty years and is Honorary Research Associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College, London. His last book was The Rattlesnake (Faber, 2005).