The Devil and Mr. Casement One Man's Battle for Human Rights in South America's Heart of Darkness

Jordan Goodman




Trade Paperback

336 Pages


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In September 1910, the activist Roger Casement arrived in the Amazon jungle on a mission for the British government: to investigate reports of widespread human-rights abuses in the forests along the Putumayo River. Casement was outraged by what he uncovered: nearly thirty thousand Indians had died to produce four thousand tons of rubber for Peruvian and British commercial interests, under the brutal rubber baron Julio César Arana. In 1912, Casement’s seven-hundred-page report of the Putumayo violence set off reverberations throughout the world. Drawing on a wealth of original research, The Devil and Mr. Casement is a haunting story of modern capitalism with enormous contemporary political resonance.


Praise for The Devil and Mr. Casement

“A fine and meticulous book . . . adds to Casement’s reputation as a pioneer of the human rights movement’s tactics, including the on-the-spot investigation, and the leveraging of public outrage to spur reform.”Greg Grandin, The New York Times Book Review

“With vivid touches of imagination and humor, Goodman captures the drama and paradox of Casement’s varied life.”The New Yorker

“Written with detail and care . . . The Devil and Mr. Casement tells an important story . . . A valuable addition to the histories of Western exploitation at the beginning of the twentieth century.”—The Boston Globe

“Goodman motors the pace and stokes suspense with cliff-hanger chapter endings and a dramatic courtroom trial . . . The Devil and Mr. Casement is delicately presented less as a tale of atrocities than as one of all-too-familiar corporate greed, diplomatic red tape, conflicting politics, and the shifting influence of the West in South America.”The Miami Herald

“A fast-paced account of [a] groundbreaking effort to hold corporations accountable for their misdeeds, as well as a detailed portrait of Casement.”Mother Jones

“Goodman’s journalistic narrative is a reminder of the devastation that greed can cause and the good work that can be done by a few good men.”The Shepherd Express (Milwaukee)

"While covering the governmental machinery moving in the background of Casement’s inquiry, Goodman highlights the care and savvy with which Casement undertook his assignment. Goodman’s research shows well here, and his pacing will hook readers interested in colonialism, human rights, or Casement himself."—Booklist

"Well researched and exquisitely told, Goodman's account of one brave man bringing down a cruel business empire is worthy of attention."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



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On October 1, 1907, twenty-one-year-old Walter Hardenburg, who was working on the construction of the Colombian Pacific Railroad, and his fellow American workmate, Walter Perkins, three years his elder, set out from the construction site at Buenaventura on the Pacific coast of Colombia for the adventure of a lifetime.

Hardenburg and Perkins had been offered better positions to work on the Madeira-Mamoré Railway, an ambitious project designed to bypass the unnavigable Madeira River in the western part of the Brazilian Amazon in order to

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  • Jordan Goodman

  • Jordan Goodman has been a professional historian for thirty years and is Honorary Research Associate at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College, London. His last book was The Rattlesnake (Faber, 2005).