Stones of Contention: A History of Africa’s Diamonds

Todd Cleveland. Ohio Univ, $26.95 trade paper (234p) ISBN 978-0-8214-2100-0
Cleveland, a Fulbright scholar and history professor at Augustana College, explores the origins of an industry that has long drawn the world’s attention as he conveys the “range of human experience associated with the extraction of diamonds from Africa’s soils.” The continent, with its vast mineral wealth—jewels, gold, and other precious metals—became the epicenter for the world’s supply of diamonds with the discovery of the Eureka Diamond, and has played an often contentious role in world history. Cleveland begins by asking a question that was posed to him: “Would you ever purchase an African diamond knowing what you know now?” In this introduction to the industry, he strives to give readers sufficient facts to answer that question themselves by making sense of a global commodity shrouded in secrecy and the illusions of marketing. Cleveland reveals the multitude of ways industries use diamonds to produce and manufacture goods—highlighting how you’ve probably used diamonds even if you’ve never bought one outright. He also addresses the great paradox of the diamond trade: its ability to both fuel violence and support development within the countries where they’re found. Cleveland’s work is necessarily accessible and important, as diamonds will continue to play a prominent role in world events. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/19/2014
Release date: 07/01/2014
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