Chronicles the history of the De Beers diamond mines, from Johannes De Beer's humble South African ranch to the Oppenheimers' vast empire. By the author of A Journal of the Plague Years.
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De Beers Consolidated Mines is fighting for its life. The most powerful and secretive cartel in the world faces diamond smuggling in Angola, disruption in Russia, and a world-wide recession. But this is not the first emergency De Beers has confronted in its long history of struggle and survival. In The Last Empire, Stefan Kanfer chronicles the nineteenth-century diamond rush that transformed Johannes De Beer's humble South African farmstead into an exotic Klondike. With a scholar's precision and a novelist's eye, he recounts the rise of wild frontier towns like New Rush (now Kimberley) and Johannesburg, and their roisterous mix of plutocrats and prostitutes, gamblers and politicians. Kanfer shows the roots of the racial crisis in the developing land: the misery of black miners and the fortunes of white prospectors; the defeat of the African emperor Lobengula and the rise of his legendary adversary, Cecil Rhodes, who would rule both the Cape Colony and De Beers. In the twentieth century, the cartel comes under the control of the Oppenheimers, a German-Jewish dynasty that builds De Beers and its gold-mining twin, the Anglo American Corporation, into an empire of unmatched global reach, and creates a shadow government more flexible and powerful than South Africa's official leadership. Kanfer documents the Oppenheimers' dealings on and under the table: their condemnation of apartheid even as they exploit cheap black labor, their quiet takeover of Salomon Brothers, their monopoly on diamonds and their grip on gold maintained at all costs and by any means. And he uncovers the passionate inside story of the billionaire family whose empire, he argues, will survive well into the twenty-firstcentury.From Kirkus Reviews:
From veteran Time editor Kanfer (A Summer World, 1989, etc.): an enjoyable history of De Beers, the great business empire that founded a country, helped start a war, and funded the legendary Rhodes scholarships. Kanfer begins with the discovery, in 1867, of the first diamond in South Africa, found by a farm boy who noticed ``in the glare of the sun a glittering pebble.'' That pebble was the first of a great mother lode of diamonds to be found in this arid area of South Africa along the Orange River and, later--to the great relief of investors--buried deep in the ground in pipes of ancient rock. The Kimberley diamond fields attracted adventurers, failures, and a slew of ambitious men: young Jews from the London slums, like Solly Joel and the great Barney Barnato; Albert Beit, from Germany; and, of course, Cecil Rhodes, the clergyman's son who dreamed of making the continent British from the Cape to Cairo. Kanfer describes how these men formed the holdings that--named after the owners of a farm on which a rich lode was discovered--became De Beers. In time, the old guard was taken over by Ernest Oppenheimer, an ambitious young Englishman who survived anti-Semitism, the obstructions of rivals, even a shipwreck, to found--with the help of American capital--the Anglo American Corporation, which he used to buy De Beers, turning it into a powerful cartel that today controls the worldwide sale of diamonds. Kanfer not only details the Oppenheimers' rise to fame and fortune, their often brilliant tactics to safeguard their empire (not the least being the slogan ``a diamond is forever''), and the relevant historical background, but he also speculates on a future threatened by turmoil in South Africa, smuggling in Angola, disruption in Russia, and a global recession. Timely corporate history--as exciting and poignant as any good tale of derring-do against great odds by all-too-flawed giants. (Forty photographs) -- Copyright ©1993, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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Descrizione libro Diane Pub Co. Paperback. Condizione libro: Fair. Codice libro della libreria G0788160753I5N00