The Founder

The Founder : Cecil Rhodes and the Pursuit of Power

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Cecil Rhodes was the dominant figure in 19th-century Southern Africa. It was his acquisition of diamond mines in South Africa that led to the formation of De Beer Ltd, the huge diamond corporation which he led, and he also dominated the gold mines of the region. With his wealth secured, he went on to dominate the political scene, first as premier of the Cape Colony and later as a visionary who saw Britain controlling and claiming all the African territory from Cairo to Capetown. He was a firm believer in white supremacy, and his ideas and policies continue in Southern Africa today. Rotberg creates a portrait of a complicated and compelling personality - a latent homosexual who controlled everything and everyone who came near him; a selfish wealth-seeker whose greatest legacy has been the Rhodes more

Product details

  • Hardback | 822 pages
  • 162.56 x 238.76 x 48.26mm | 1,179.33g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 52 half-tones, 9 maps, bibliography, index
  • 0195049683
  • 9780195049688

Review Text

Encylopedic 752-page biography of the empire-builder who created the international diamond industry, established the nation of Rhodesia, and conceived and financed the Rhodes Scholarships. Rhodes was also the Premier of the Cape Colony, a deft manipulator of the British Parliament and African tribal chiefs, probably a repressed homosexual, a visionary, and an intimate of Queen Victoria, the Kaiser, and the Rothschilds. His should be a fascinating and compelling story. Unfortunately, the narrative here bogs down in a welter of facts and figures. Having devoted 17 years to researching the work, the author seems reluctant to leave anything out. Future historians will undoubtedly appreciate his thoroughness: the pages trace Rhodes' activities almost day-by-day, at times 'almost hour-by-hour. For the average reader, however, this obsessive detailing impedes the general sweep of the narrative and the shape of Rhodes' life is obscured. There are, however, many pages here that stand on their own as fine examples of historical writing. Dealing with the subject of his subject's probable homosexuality, Rotberg not only cites relationships that would seem to indicate such a sexual orientation, but also authoritatively discusses changing perceptions of same-sex attraction since the late 19th century. The author is equally adept at sketching the social and political expectations of the early South African settlers and has a sharp eye for the conditions of life in the rapidly developing area. This will surely prove a valuable tool for scholars, but for the general reader, a more selective, less all-inclusive approach to Rhodes' life would have been more appealing. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

About Robert I. Rotberg

About the Author Robert I. Rotberg is Academic Vice-President for Arts, Sciences, and Technology at Tufts University. A noted authority on Africa, he taught for many years at M.I.T. and Harvard. He has written numerous books about Africa, including Suffer the Future: Policy Choices in Southern Africa (1980), Black Heart: Gore-Browne and the Politics of Multiracial Zambia (1978), The Rise of Nationalism in Central Africa (1965), Joseph Thomson and the Exploration of Africa (Oxford, 1971), and Protest and Power in Black Africa (Oxford, 1970). He is himself a former Rhodes more

Rating details

17 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 24% (4)
4 41% (7)
3 29% (5)
2 6% (1)
1 0% (0)
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