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In the Forest of No Joy by J. P. Daughton
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In the Forest of No Joy

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In the Forest of No Joy by J. P. Daughton
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Jul 20, 2021 | ISBN 9780593501382 | 603 Minutes

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  • Jul 20, 2021 | ISBN 9780593501382

    603 Minutes

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Masterful…. what makes it so compelling is the divide it exposes between the often admirable intentions of colonial bureaucrats who did genuinely think they were lifting Africans out of poverty, and the grim reality that they enabled.—The Economist

[An] unsparing history…. By highlighting individual stories, Daughton upends the Eurocentric narrative of the documents he studies, in which ‘white triumph would always discount African trauma.’—The New Yorker

An unflinching book, often harrowing in its depiction of the depravity on display in French Equatorial Africa.—Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal

Relying on journalistic accounts from the period and the excellent use of archival materials, [Daughton’s] book paints a vivid picture of colonialism in central Africa.—Nicolas van de Walle, Foreign Affairs

If such a shockingly large number of people had been worked to death building a railroad in Europe or the United States, it would be as notorious as the worst deeds of Hitler or Stalin. J.P. Daughton puts this little-known tragedy on the record in a searing, unforgettable, and necessary way.—Adam Hochschild, author of King Leopold’s Ghost: A Story of Greed, Terror, and Heroism in Colonial Africa

Meticulously researched, vividly narrated, and devastatingly compelling, In the Forest of No Joy provides a significant contribution to the mounting evidence that lays bare the self-deceiving lie at the heart of Empire, that of the ‘civilizing mission.’ J.P. Daughton details the horrific abuse carried out by the colonial regime upon the African population during the construction of the Congo-Océan railroad, from forced labor to torture and murder, and finds evidence not just of African suffering, but also African resistance. —Aminatta Forna, author of The Devil that Danced on the Water

In this tour de force of historical research, J.P. Daughton tells the horrifying story of the Congo-Océan railroad, a massive, ill-conceived construction project (1921-34) whose French overseers doomed some 20,000 African workers to die. This story, revealing as it does France’s imperial hubris and callous disregard of human suffering, should have been told a long time ago. But it has been buried by bureaucrats, overlooked by historians, and made invisible to those who chose not to see. We owe Daughton a great debt for bringing it to light and for masterfully adding a new chapter to the tragic history of Central Africa under European colonial rule.—Edward Berenson, department chair and professor of history, New York University, and author of The Accusation: Blood Libel in an American Town

Sailing with J.P. Daughton into the French empire’s heart of darkness is a visceral, haunting, and memorable experience. In the Forest of No Joy will stand alongside Adam Hochschild’s King Leopold’s Ghost as a chilling testament to the crimes of European ‘civilization.’ —Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

In his compelling study, J.P. Daughton evokes the murderous violence that accompanied the construction in the 1920s of a tortuous railroad in southern French Equatorial Africa, sadly representative of the French imperial project. Daughton presents a chilling analysis of French colonial attitudes toward indigenous peoples, while vividly relating the experiences of tens of thousands of ordinary Africans.—John Merriman, Charles Seymour Professor of History, Yale University

Daughton masterfully relays…. a compelling narrative of the effects of imperialism, still apparent in the 21st century…. This outstanding work should satisfy history enthusiasts of all levels. Daughton’s writing is heartfelt throughout.—Library Journal, starred review

Meticulous and enraging…. Daughton skillfully reads against the grain of these official records to uncover the harrowing reality faced by native Africans. This is a devastating record of the horrors of colonialism.—Publishers Weekly

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