Cecil Rhodes: Flawed Colossus

Brian Roberts, Author W. W. Norton & Company $22.5 (319p) ISBN 978-0-393-02575-0
Power-hungry capitalist, egocentric imposter, asexual political robot, ruthless racistthese epithets have been hurled at Rhodes, the architect of British colonialism in southern Africa. To Roberts, author of The Diamond Magnates, they are all unfair. ``Rhodes was a racist . . . but the extent of his color prejudice is debatable,'' the author writes, adding that the mining mogul was swept up in British imperialism as a civilizing quest and cannot be held responsible for modern-day apartheid. In attempting to humanize the tightfisted adventurer, this apologia simply makes him boring. Roberts describes Rhodes as a suppressed homosexual, disagreeing with biographers who consider him to have been actively homosexual. He puts emphasis on the empire-builder's friendships, even though Rhodes was extremely guarded and kept conversation impersonal. Roberts insists that Rhodes is far more complex than previous biographers have assumed, but it's not clear if and why we should admire or like a man who had black mineworkers stripped and locked in a detention hut for 10 days at a stretch. Illustrations not seen by PW. (June)
Reviewed on: 04/25/1988
Release date: 05/01/1988
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 606 pages - 978-1-910670-48-4
Show other formats
Discover what to read next