“Exterminate All the Brutes”

One Man’s Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide

The brilliant and unsettling intellectual history of Europe’s genocidal colonization of Africa

“A book of stunning range and near genius. . . . The catastrophic consequences of European imperialism are made palpable in the personal progress of the author, a late-twentieth-century pilgrim in Africa. Lindqvist’s astonishing connections across time and cultures, combined with a marvelous economy of prose, leave the reader appalled, reflective, and grateful.” —David Levering Lewis

“Exterminate All the Brutes” is a searching examination of Europe’s dark history in Africa and the origins of genocide. Using Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as his point of departure, Sven Lindqvist takes us on a haunting tour through the colonial past, interwoven with a modern-day travelogue. Retracing the steps of European explorers, missionaries, politicians, and historians in Africa from the late eighteenth century onward, the author exposes the roots of genocide in Africa via his own journey through the Saharan desert. As Lindqvist shows, fantasies not merely of white superiority but of actual extermination—“cleansing” the earth of the so-called lesser races—deeply informed European colonialism and racist ideology that ultimately culminated in Europe’s own Holocaust.

Chosen as one of the Best Books of 1998 by the New Internationalist, which called it “a beautifully written integration of criticism, cultural history, and travel writing, underpinned by a passion for social justice,” “Exterminate All the Brutes” is a powerful reckoning with the past and an indispensable contribution to the literature of colonial Africa and European genocide.

Praise

“In spare but powerful prose . . . Lindqvist manages to weave together an impressive variety of themes [to] point to the continuity between prejudices and acts separated by continents and centuries.”
The Washington Post
“Lindqvist’s work leaves you changed. ‘Exterminate All the Brutes’ first made me fully aware of one of the real-life models for Joseph Conrad’s Mr. Kurtz and, for a book I was then writing, set me looking for more. Two books later, I found myself writing about the Battle of Omdurman.”
—Adam Hochschild
“Lindqvist’s disturbing, brilliant work of historical sleuthing deserves to be taken up in a thousand classrooms.”
—Rob Nixon, Voice Literary Supplement

Books by Sven Lindqvist

The Dead Do Not Die
“Exterminate All the Brutes” and Terra Nullius

Sven Lindqvist

A History of Bombing

Sven Lindqvist

Terra Nullius
A Journey Through No One’s Land

Sven Lindqvist

The Skull Measurer’s Mistake
And Other Portraits of Men and Women Who Spoke Out Against Racism

Sven Lindqvist