The Randlords

Geoffrey Wheatcroft, Author Atheneum Books $17.95 (314p) ISBN 978-0-689-11795-4
The discovery of diamonds at Kimberley in 1871 and of gold on the Witwatersrand in 1886 led to the use of black laborers in the mines (and today's apartheid), the Boer War, and the development of South Africa as a wealthy nation. This popular economic history and collective biography concentrates on the achievements of Barney Barnato, Alfred Beit, Ernest Oppenheimer and other adventurers, promoters and financiers (referred to as Randlords), who, together with Cecil Rhodes, established the monopolistic De Beers Consolidated Mines. With the millions they made, these magnates participated in politics (Rhodes became prime minister of Cape Colony and tried to overthrow the Transvaal Republic), and some of them settled in Britain, where they became art collectors, philanthropists and country gentlemen. Wheatcroft's history is sound; but although he is good at depicting these colorful fortune-seekers and -makers, the book's abundance of detail may make it tedious going for casual readers. Wheatcroft is a London-based freelance journalist. Illustrations. (March 18)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Paperback - 978-0-671-63993-8
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