Rhodes: Race for Africa

Antony Thomas, Author St. Martin's Press $25.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-312-16982-4
To the African tribes whose lands Cecil Rhodes coveted, he was ""Ulodzi,"" who ""eats a country for breakfast."" Thomas, one of the producers of a forthcoming Masterpiece Theater dramatization already shown on the BBC in Britain, has produced here the book of the filmed biography of him. If there is a hero, it is the majestic Lobengula, the Matabele king who was, Rhodes believed, ""the only block to Central Africa."" By force and by deceit, Rhodes acquired the territory, along with access to goldfields and diamond mines. By his middle 30s, he controlled, ostensibly under the British flag, a swath of southern Africa as large as Europe. If his imperial dreams made him super rich while impoverishing the blacks, who were restricted to an apartheid existence by Rhodes as much as by the Afrikaners he tried to co-opt, it was all for flag and country. At 37 he was prime minister of Cape Colony, and on the side he manipulated the world supply of diamonds and a second fortune in gold. When he died in 1902 at 48, he left a legacy of brutality and injustice--sanitized, however, by his Rhodes Scholarships to his beloved Oxford University. (He had neither wife nor children, preferring a devoted elite of young men.) Like its many predecessors, Thomas's detailed biography makes the case that Rhodes was not an idealist corrupted by greed but a maker of what little of his myth remains. Illustrations. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-1-86842-035-3
Hardcover - 368 pages - 978-0-563-38742-8
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