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Blood Diamonds

por Greg Campbell

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2221592,215 (3.88)18
The smuggling of diamonds from Sierra Leone has become one of the most savage rebel campaigns in modern history. This gripping true story traces the deadly trail of these diamonds and the repercussions felt far beyond the poor and war-ridden country of Sierra Leone.
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Quite a journalistic piece.

This is the horrifying story of the war in Sierra Leone in the early 1990s on up to about 2004, after the war ended. The primary combatants were members of the RUF - The Revolutionary United Front, an organization that does not really deserve the name. Initially it was able to recruit soldiers by a lofty goal, saying it was fighting for the citizens, for better conditions for all. In fact, it became a murderous horde, dedicated to seizing diamonds and trading them for guns, as well as for the personal wealth of a few. The group recruited boys as soldiers (one recruited by the government's army was Ishmael Beah, who wrote the remarkable A Long Way Gone - my review of that book is at http://www.bookcrossing.com/journal/5096160/), and the boys learned to kill anything at any time for any reason.

Some of the atrocities were the amputating of arms and the brutal removal of babies from pregnant mothers. Whole villages were simply executed. Many were enslaved and required to work in the diamond mines, while others became "mules", carrying loads of diamonds to the border with Liberia, where the stones were traded for guns.

The government was in crisis, having just been overturned by a coup, and adequate military response was not made. More on the war here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Revolutionary_United_Front

The United Nations finally stepped in but ineptly. Its efforts finally resulted in an end to the war, and in inadequate responses to the RUF, which was allowed to become a political party.

Campbell also tells the story of DeBeers, the largest diamond company in the world, so large that it essentially has a monopoly and has managed to maintain high prices for the stones since its beginning. Thousands of stones are locked away, unavailable for sale, because if they got to the open market the price would plummet. DeBeers benefitted from the Sierra Leone war by being able to purchase stones at rock-bottom prices from dubious sources.

Many different methods have been suggested to assure that a particular diamond is not a "conflict diamond", but ultimately it is still impossible to be certain. Some countries in Africa, most notably Botswana, have democratic governments and good practices in place for the management of the diamond mining industry. Most diamonds are not "blood diamonds". Yet I would never buy one.

I found the book interesting to listen to, although I didn't particularly like the narrator. It illuminated a war I did not previously understand, and also revealed great bravery and courage among the poor citizens of this ravaged country. I felt that it gave an impression of the UN involvement that was one-sided, that it did not delve into the successful efforts of UNICEF to deprogram the young soldiers, but that would probably have been too much for one book. ( )
  slojudy | Sep 8, 2020 |
Although Campbell's work is in some ways directly tied to the history that was unfolding around the turn of the century, it's by no means so dated as to no longer have relevance. Campbell's examination of the diamond industry--from its beginnings to the more recent history--is a fascinating and in-depth look into the growth of a luxury industry and commercialism, offering real insight into the tangled ways in which politics, warfare, business, natural resources, and criminality can become so enmeshed as to be virtually indistinguishable to a third party.

Whether you read this for the history or out of a desire to begin understanding the socio-economic and natural resources at play behind diamonds and warfare, the book is utterly readable--in fact, the primary difficulty is remembering that some of the horrors involved are fact rather than fiction.

Recommended for all those who are even slightly interested. ( )
  whitewavedarling | Jul 18, 2019 |
A report on the tragedy and suffering caused by the Diamond trade.
  xwgrace | Jul 5, 2015 |
Wow, difficult to read and comprehend, especially as an audiobook, but very interesting. It's both a historical summary of the diamond trade in Africa, which I could follow easily, and a description of recent history of "conflict diamonds" and fights for the diamond business control, which is so convoluted that it was nearly impossible to follow. And the acronyms, oh the acronyms! Be prepared to concentrate hard if you want to try and follow this. (also, excellent narrator) ( )
  marshapetry | Sep 17, 2014 |
American Journalist Greg Campbell goes to Sierra Leone, Africa, to cover the hidden, violent story of how we get our diamonds. He meets a cast of shady characters, witnesses hundreds of atrocities, and is placed in danger several times. He points the finger at the political regimes in Africa, the world's indifference to same, the DeBeers Diamond Company, and US as consumers who want this most precious stone. What the world (wants to) see as a regional problem, Campbell makes the convincing case that it is, in fact, a global issue. (Who knew that the 9-11 attacks were funded, in part, by diamonds? Further, that diamonds remain the easiest way to transfer weath across borders. Riveting reading. ( )
  mjspear | Nov 12, 2013 |
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The smuggling of diamonds from Sierra Leone has become one of the most savage rebel campaigns in modern history. This gripping true story traces the deadly trail of these diamonds and the repercussions felt far beyond the poor and war-ridden country of Sierra Leone.

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