Stones of Contention: Book summary and reviews of Stones of Contention by Todd Cleveland

Stones of Contention

A History of Africa's Diamonds

By Todd Cleveland

Stones of Contention
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  • Published in USA  Jun 2014,
    240 pages.

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Book Summary

Africa supplies the majority of the world's diamonds, yet consumers generally know little about the origins and history of these precious stones beyond sensationalized media accounts of so-called blood diamonds.

Stones of Contention explores the major developments in the remarkable history of Africa's diamonds, from the first stirrings of international interest in the continent's mineral wealth in the first millennium A.D. to the present day. In the European colonial period, the discovery of diamonds in South Africa ushered in an era of unprecedented greed during which monopolistic enterprises exploited both the mineral resources and the indigenous workforce. In the aftermath of World War II, the governments of newly independent African states, both democratic and despotic, joined industry giant De Beers and other corporations to oversee and profit from mining activity on the continent.

The book also considers the experiences of a wide array of Africans - from informal artisanal miners, company mineworkers, and indigenous authorities to armed rebels, mining executives, and premiers of mineral-rich states - and their relationships to the stones that have the power to bring both wealth and misery. With photos and maps, Stones of Contention illustrates the scope and complexity of the African diamond trade as well as its impact on individuals and societies.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. Cleveland's work is necessarily accessible and important, as diamonds will continue to play a prominent role in world events." - Publishers Weekly

"Stones of Contention is the best introduction to the history of diamond-mining in Africa - short and easy-to-read." - Stephen Ellis, Desmond Tutu Professor of Youth, Sport, and Reconciliation, Faculty of Social Sciences, Vrije University, Amsterdam, and author of Season of Rains: Africa in the World

"Todd Cleveland expertly mines the social, political and economic history of Africa's diamond industry, explaining the phenomenon of 'blood diamonds,' the regulatory efforts of the past decade and a growing sense of optimism that these 'stones of contention' may, at long last, contribute to meaningful development." - Ian Smillie, author of Blood on the Stone: Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade and Diamonds

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Todd Cleveland is an assistant professor of history at Augustana College (Illinois). He has been a Fulbright scholar in both Angola and Ghana. He is the author of numerous book chapters and articles on the history of diamond mining and on soccer within the former Portuguese empire in Africa.

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