Consuming the Congo: War and Conflict Minerals in the World's Deadliest Place

Peter Eichstaedt, Author
Peter Eichstaedt. Lawrence Hill, $24.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-56976-310-0
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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)
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