7 Book Reviews on Blood Diamonds
In 2006, Leonardo DiCaprio hit the movie screens with Blood Diamonds detailing the story of a diamond smuggler cum mercenary and that of a man who had lost his family to rebels who kidnapped his son for work in a conflict diamond mine. Blood diamonds are not named for their color but rather the very real blood which is shed in order to mine them and more sinister, the arms for civil war for which they are used to pay for. If you wear a conflict or blood diamond on your hand, then you really do have blood on your hands!
The DiCaprio film was not based on a particular book but the subject has attracted the interest of a number of writers and here is our pick of seven. Seven books reviews on Blood Diamonds.
The Rise and Fall of Diamonds: Shattering the Illusion
Edward Epstein (pub. Simon & Schuster 1982)
Published at a time when most people were almost universally concerned with making money in the booming early years of the 1980′s, the popularity or newsworthiness of many conflicts around the globe was diminished as people enjoyed the good life. Epstein’s book opened the door on the world of conflict diamonds in a revealing look at what to the outsider, looked like an industry of opulence, style and wealth was in fact based upon the untold misery of entire countries and an unbelievable scale of death and destruction.
An easy read with a searing critique of the closed shop of the diamond industry which is more concerned with profits than human life.
Diamonds and Conflict: Problems and Solutions
Ed. Arthur Levy (pub. Nova Biomedical)
A more academic treatment of the subject matter but nevertheless, written in a style and tone which allows the reader to assimilate the issues and help them come to form their own opinions on the subject. Levy has put together an excellent set of arguments as his team has identified the principal issues and set them into context. Africa has historically been torn apart and fought over for its immense wealth of natural resources, and conflict diamonds are a further facet to this bloody saga.
We recommend this book not least for the wealth of illustrations and the objective reasoning applied which is hard to refute.
Glitter and Greed; the Secret World of the Diamond Cartel
Janine Roberts (pub. The Disinformation Company 2003)
“Conflict diamonds” as a phrase evokes visions of Africa, civil war and immense profits but in reality, conflict diamonds can be found around the world aside from Africa. Roberts is an Australian journalist who first became interested in the subject when she covered a dispute between a diamond mine and Aboriginal natives in her homeland of Australia. In the following years, she has doggedly followed the trail of conflict diamonds around the world including India and Africa. Ultimately, any follower or writer dealing with any diamonds will come across de Beers who mine around 45% of the global production.
Diamonds may no longer be a girl’s best friend after reading this damning and meticulously researched expose.
Diamonds in Peace and War: Severing the Conflict Diamond Connection
Ingrid J Tamm (pub.WPF Report #30 2002)
Tamm is a program manager at the Carr Center for Human Rights at Harvard University so expect a very dry treatise on the problematic issue of conflict diamonds. In fact, what you get is something which is as rare as a diamond – practical recommendations for the resolution of the use of conflict diamonds in purchasing arms which in turn fuel the wars and atrocities in the countries where the stones are sourced.
To get the most out of this work, arm yourself with some knowledge of the diamond industry and international politics between conflict diamond sources and especially the United States where most of the stones end up.
The Heartless Stone: A Journey Through the World of Diamonds, Deceit and Desire
Tom Zoellner (pub. St. Martins Press 2007)
Zoellner was dumped by his fiance, which is pretty rough especially if you are contributing editor to a men’s magazine (Men’s Health). For cathartic release, Zoellner travelled the globe and tracked down the history of the diamond which represented pain and misery to him and in doing so, he uncovered for himself the wider picture of child labor, genocide, civil war and the seedy side to the sparklers worn on the finger.
Written in an easy-to-read style, it is a personalized and yet very relevant account of conflict diamonds and the negative impact they have on people all over the world.
Blood Diamonds: tracing the deadly path of the world’s most precious stones
Greg Campbell (pub. Westview Press 2002)
Campbell neatly ties in the tale of how conflict diamonds end up on the ring fingers of Western brides while their use has funded a war which has ripped Sierra Leone apart for decades. He follows the trail as they are smuggled from West Africa to New York, London and Antwerp frequently with the cooperation of the legitimate diamond industry and into mainstream use.
Campbell demonstrates how the operations work and the impact on the people it touches as well as the history of the practice which was institutionalized by De Beers in the 1880′s. For those who remember Princess Diana and the Angolan mine victims she met in a blaze of publicity before the world’s TV cameras, just remember that she was meeting with the victims blood diamonds.
Africa’s Vengeance: Diamonds are Forever
Alex Vann (pub. Cambridge University Press 2007)
With growing awareness of the existence of conflict diamonds impinging upon the public conscience, players in the diamond industry and governments around the world subscribed to the Kimberley Process to control and attempt to eradicate the use of conflict diamonds.
Vann explores the interconnection between conflict diamonds and more than war in host countries. In particular, he focuses on the relationships between those who source and use conflict diamonds and the drug smuggling operations as he outlines a criminal economic system which replicates the slaving trading triangle between Africa, the New World and the UK except it is now diamonds, guns and drugs instead of slaves, tobacco and molasses.