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Blood Diamonds: Tracing the Deadly Path Of the World's Most Precious Stones [Paperback]

Greg Campbell
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Feb. 4 2004
First discovered in 1930, the diamonds of Sierra Leone have funded one of the most savage rebel campaigns in modern history. These "blood diamonds" are smuggled out of West Africa and sold to legitimate diamond merchants in London, Antwerp, and New York, often with the complicity of the international diamond industry. Eventually, these very diamonds find their way into the rings and necklaces of brides and spouses the world over. 'Blood Diamonds' is the gripping tale of how the diamond smuggling works, how the rebel war has effectively destroyed Sierra Leone and its people, and how the policies of the diamond industry - institutionalized in the 1880s by the De Beers cartel - have allowed it to happen. Award-winning journalist Greg Campbell traces the deadly trail of these diamonds, many of which are brought to the world market by fanatical enemies. These repercussions of diamond smuggling are felt far beyond the borders of the poorand war-ridden country of Sierra Leone, and the consequences of overlooking this African tragedy are both shockingly deadly and unquestionably global. Updated with a new epilogue.

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From Library Journal

Freelance journalist Campbell here writes about the cost of diamonds not in dollars to the consumer but in blood, torture, and death for the unfortunate residents of contested mining areas in Sierra Leone. He explains that "conflict diamonds," or "blood diamonds," which account for only three to four percent of all diamonds sold, are mined in war zones, smuggled out of the country, and sold to legitimate companies, financing ruinous civil wars and the plots of international terrorists, including the al Qaeda network. The gems' value and portability have made controlling the diamond mines important to guerrilla fighters, who maim and kill innocent villagers to secure their territory. Campbell has spoken with individuals all along the pipeline, from miners to soldiers to smugglers, and the grim portrait he paints will make many people think twice about buying another diamond. While Matthew Hart's Diamond: A Journey to the Heart of an Obsession covered the international diamond trade more widely, this focused study of the catastrophic effect of blood diamonds on Sierra Leone belongs in all libraries. Deirdre Bray Root, Middletown P.L., OH
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Journalist Campbell takes the reader on a journey to the dark side of the glittering image of diamonds, a darkness too long out of sight of Euro-American consciousness. Campbell explores the significance of the diamond trade in Sierra Leone, the West African country formed by the British to reward African American slaves who fought for the Crown in the American Revolution. He recounts the horrors of this war-torn nation, with child-soldiers and deranged adults who have reportedly cut off the hands and elbows of innocents or even removed fetuses from pregnant women via machete. The underlying motivation for the violence and strife of Sierra Leone is centered in the diamond trade, much of it illegal smuggling sanctioned by the cartel DeBeers. The trade has earned the name "blood diamonds" and has financed conflicts and rebellions around the world, including the al-Qaeda network. Campbell notes that this same illegal diamond trading that has wrecked Sierra Leone may provide the basis for hope as the West is compelled to address the tragic circumstances of this war-torn nation. Vernon Ford
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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CROUCHED BY THE MINE'S EDGE, I tried to ignore the grilling persistence of the equatorial sun overhead and concentrate on the dirt under my feet. Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars diamond marketing June 3 2003
By A Customer
Thank you, reviewer Katie. I've just finished Teun Voeten's "How de Body," a narrative journalism account of the author's search for child soldiers in Sierra Leone. I clicked over to this recommended book and was as appalled to see the cross-marketing links for diamonds as you were. The discrepancy between which images are linked to diamonds for us by advertisers (soft-focus romantic couple, declarations of love, words like "exquisite" and slogans assuring you you're worth it for this once-in-a-lifetime symbol) and the history of atrocities, exploitation, and brutality in the diamond industry is here reinforced by Amazon, whose software is sure that if we're interested in diamonds, we must be fantasizing about owning one and in the mood to shop.
Ever since I saw a wonderful independent documentary (produced by National Geographic) on PBS in which a journalist visited the diamond mines, the lawless black market shantytowns, and the sanitized "conflict free" diamond registry in Freetown, I resolved to never buy or accept any diamond unless it was an heirloom. In the film, war amputees and ex-rebels work side by saide, day after day, in the mud and the open strip mines ripped in the landscape, to find perhaps a diamond a day that they will sell to a middleman for pennies. The journalist visited a deep basin in a river where an encampment of men lived, taking turns deep diving in zero visibility, connected to the surface for hours only by a plastic tube that is their only life support. They are looking for diamonds. Very dangerous. I came away from the film and book both with a sense that evil and corruption constellate around precious resources; that the atrocities committed around their control are the worst of human nature; and that even the most perfectly cut, polished, and set "conflict free" diamond partakes of human evil, something exacerbated by the disconnect of our marketing images from the stones' origin.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Just don't know about Feb. 14 2003
I haven't read the book yet but just got really upset reading this review page and had to post something. After spending an hour online reading all I could find about "blood diamonds," coming here, reading all the reviews about this book, and resolving to buy it and read it immediately, I scrolled down the page and found myself looking at Amazon's recommendation for another product I might like to buy: a 14k 1-carat 3-stone princess diamond wedding band for $1399.00, specifically, which was recommended by Amazon and their affiliates.
I recognize that these recommendations are probably randomly generated and that it was merely unfortunate luck that that product showed up on this page. However, it made me feel sick, after reading so much about the high human cost of diamonds and the inflated prices passed along to blind and willing consumers in this country. If Amazon is going to stock books that encourage people to think twice about what they're willing to spend their money on, then I think it would also be appropriate for them to be careful about what products they're recommending and whether there's a conflict of interest there.
I'm definitely buying this book, but I won't get it here. It just made me feel too sick to read all about the horrors of the diamond trade and then scroll down the page only to be exhorted to leave my conscience at the door and buy myself a big fat diamond.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Priorities Oct. 20 2002
Do we need a PR firm to boost the value of human life over a diamond? BLOOD DIAMONDS is an amazing book, filled with detail and stark commentary but , more than that, presenting a story of contemporary times in a small African country that most of us didn't know.
I thought back to what was happening in my life in 1999 and 2000. I knew a home health aide from Sierra Leone who told me her country was in a civil war, that her relatives could not come or go and that she sent them whatever she could. Blood Diamonds' author Greg Campbell fills in the awful details of her story.
We are working on becoming the small world and community some would like to be. Could we contribute by shutting down the Sierra Leone mines, buying their mangoes instead and letting the people there really go to the beach in a place called FREETOWN?
What a well-written story; it should touch your heart and soul.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A GEM OF A BOOK Nov. 22 2002
Want to buy a nice diamond for your loved one? Read this book and you will, hopefully, change your mind. What if your loved one could not wear a diamond because his/her hands been cut off by people in the diamond pipeline?
Did you know that the DeBeers Corporation (world's largest diamond company) is an illegal entity in the USA and that no more than four of their employees may be in the USA at the same time? Read this fascinating and disturbing book to learn how fortunes have been made mining and marketing diamonds to an unsuspecting public.
Congratulations to the author for shedding some light on the horrific abuses carried out in the name of "luxury goods."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Both fascinating and informative March 30 2008
Books as good as Blood Diamonds are rare. Through the macabre description of ongoing conflict in poor Sierra Leone, Greg Campbell connects with the reader's values and creates a lasting impression.

Civil war has been an integral part of everyday business in Sierra Leone for decades. In fact, as soon as geologists discovered the first precious stones in its jungle, conflict arose as to who possesses the rights over this costly natural resource. Over the years, guerilla associations - such as the RUF - have ensured that a climate of insecurity envelops all of the West African countries, a situation benefiting only a select few and causing the death of hundreds of thousands of victims. This book narrates the story of the Sierra Leonean diamonds and analyzes the implication of well-known organizations such as the UN, De Beers and Al Qaeda, amongst others.

In this book, the reader experiences the rough reality of Sierras Leone from the viewpoint of two American journalists. Narrated in the first person and filled with complete descriptions, Greg Campbell's style rapidly grabs the reader and is very interesting to follow.

Extremely thought-provoking, I have found this book to depict pure human greed (and its consequences) while remaining optimistic. Definitely a ``great'' piece of writing.
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Most recent customer reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars A Compelling Narrative with Its Flaws
Campbell writes compelling narrative with a fascinating array of characters - corrupt dictators, warlords, mercenaries, peacekeepers, child soldiers, missionaries, shady Middle... Read more
Published on April 20 2004 by Jonathan Weisman
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected, but worth the read
I read 'Blood Diamonds' in hopes of putting a more human face on the Sierra Leone conflict which is often covered from the perspective of governments fighting rebels with little... Read more
Published on April 13 2004 by Justin Bean
I'd anxiously awaited the arrival of this book, but after two weeks of trying to get through it, I simply couldn't... Read more
Published on March 2 2004 by beckeesh
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
The best parts of this book deal with the disjoint between the popular perception of diamonds as the ultimate symbol of love and romance, and the utter brutality that attends their... Read more
Published on Oct. 28 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Never cared for diamonds, now I have a REAL REASON for it
I have always questioned the materialism of friends and family after years and years of seeing DeBeers on Tv, magazines, and newspapers senselessly pounding their marketing into my... Read more
Published on June 27 2003 by Bath Beach Chick
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good and informative
Good book that will open your eyes to what is going on in the diamond buissness. Sad what the news in the United States DOSENT report. Read more
Published on June 5 2003 by E. Cooley
5.0 out of 5 stars Diamonds are not a girl's best friend....
I lived in Sierra Leone for quite a number of years and hence had the opportunity to experience what it was like to live sorrounded by poverty and diamonds (the Kono area). Read more
Published on Feb. 21 2003 by S. Samba Campos
5.0 out of 5 stars The irony in diamonds
Two years ago I read the Global Witness report "Conflict Diamonds" and watched the documentary "Cry Freetown". Read more
Published on Jan. 1 2003
5.0 out of 5 stars Exposes the integral role diamonds played in the war
For over ten years Sierra Leone was devastated by civil war, but nothing contributed to its downfall more than the diamond, which funded rebel groups, served as the foundation for... Read more
Published on Dec 7 2002 by Midwest Book Review
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