Colonizing, De-Colonizing, and Greed!

So this is how it works…..it’s all about money, and power. Aw shucks! I thought it was about what was good for people and their countries :(

In today’s  excerpt – in the 17th through the 19th centuries, an astonishing thing happened: the countries from the tiny continent of Europe took over almost the entire rest of the world and ran those lands as colonies. All of Africa save Ethiopia became colonies; all of the Americas, almost all of Asia (save China, which became a de facto colony after the opium wars). And while this was portrayed as an effort to lift up these savage countries (“the white man’s burden”), it retarded the natural development of leadership within these countries and instead became an opportunity for daring entrepreneurs like Cecil Rhodes to build fortunes.

The benefits to the European governments that did the colonizing was far less evident though, and the colonies became a financial burden, which led to the unraveling of the British, French and other empires in the aftermath of two world wars. However, the great mineral wealth of these countries was too much for the businesses and entrepreneurs to leave behind, so as these countries were being “de-colonized”, the sponsoring countries attempted to leave behind “friendly” leadership, even if the result was to continued to retard the development of organic leadership and democracy within those countries. Such was the case with the African nation of Gabon and the “Elf affair” which splashed across European headlines in the mid-1990s. One of the most fascinating aspects of this – which is relevant in understanding the selection of post-colonial dictators in numerous other countries – is that the French chose a dictator from a minority tribe to increase that dictator’s dependency on French support:

“The so-called Elf affair scandal began in 1994 when U.S.-based Fairchild Corp. opened a commer­cial dispute with a French industrialist, triggering a stock exchange inquiry.
Treasure Islands: Uncovering the Damage of Offshore Banking and Tax Havens
by Nicholas Shaxson by Palgrave Macmillan
Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2011-04-12

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Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

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Published in: on August 20, 2011 at 12:03 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Frank Sinatra’s traumatic birth

Here’s some biographical information about Frank Sinatra that few people are aware of. It was a surprise to me.

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In today’s excerpt – Frank Sinatra carried the scars of his traumatic birth for the rest of his life:

“A raw December Sunday afternoon in 1915, a day more like the old century than the new among the wood-frame tenements and horse-shit-flecked cobblestones of Hoboken’s Little Italy, a.k.a. Guinea Town. The air smells of coal smoke and imminent snow. The kitchen of the cold-water flat on Monroe Street is full of women, all gathered around a table, all shouting at once. On the table lies a copper-haired girl, just nineteen, hugely pregnant. She moans hoarsely: the labor has stalled. The midwife wipes the poor girl’s brow and motions with her other hand. A doctor is sent for. Ten long minutes later he arrives, removes his overcoat, and with a stern look around the room – he is the lone male present – opens his black bag. From the shining metallic array inside he removes his dreaded obstetric forceps, a medieval-looking instrument, and grips the baby with it, pulling hard from the mother’s womb, in the violent process fearfully tearing the left side of the child’s face and neck, as well as its left ear.

“The doctor cuts the cord and lays the infant – a boy, huge and blue and bleeding from his wounds, and apparently dead – by the kitchen sink, quickly shifting his efforts to saving the nearly unconscious mother’s life. The women lean in, mopping the mother’s pallid face, shouting advice in Italian. One at the back of the scrum – perhaps the mother’s mother, perhaps someone else – looks at the inert baby and takes pity. She picks it up, runs some ice-cold water from the sink over it, and slaps its back. It starts, snuffles, and begins to howl.

“Mother and child both survived, but neither ever forgot the brutality of that December day. Frank Sinatra bore the scars of his birth, both physical and psychological, to the end of his years. A bear-rug-cherubic baby picture shot a few weeks after he was born was purposely taken from his right side, since the wounds on the left side of his face and neck were still angry-looking. Throughout Sinatra’s vastly documented life, he would rarely – especially if he had anything to do with it – be photographed from his left. One scar, hard to disguise (though frequently airbrushed), ran diagonally from the lower-left corner of his mouth to his jawline. His ear on that side had a bifurcated lobe – the classic cauliflower – but that was the least of it: the delicate ridges and planes of his left outer ear were mashed, giving the appearance, in early pictures, of an apricot run over by a steamroller. The only connection between the sonic world and the external auditory meatus – the ear hole – was a vertical slit. Later plastic surgery would correct the problem to some extent.

“That wasn’t all. In childhood, a mastoid operation would leave a thick ridge of scar tissue on his neck behind the ear’s base. A severe case of cystic acne in adolescence compounded his sense of disfigurement: as an adult, he would apply Max Factor pancake makeup to his face and neck every morning and again after each of the several showers he took daily.

“Sinatra later told his daughter Nancy that when he was eleven, after some playmates began to call him ‘Scarface,’ he went to the house of the physician who had delivered him, determined to give the good doctor a good beating. Fortunately, the doctor wasn’t home. Even when he was in his early forties, on top of the world and in the midst of an artistic outpouring unparalleled in the history of popular music, the birth trauma – and his mother – were very much on Sinatra’s mind. Once, in a moment of extraordinary emotional nakedness, the singer opened up very briefly to a lover. ‘They weren’t thinking about me,’ he said bitterly. ‘They were just thinking about my mother. They just kind
of ripped me out and tossed me aside.’ “

Author: James Kaplan  
Title: Frank
Publisher: Doubleday
Date: Copyright 2010 by James Kaplan
Pages: 3-5

Frank: The Voice

by James Kaplan by Doubleday
Hardcover ~ Release Date: 2010-11-02


If you wish to read further: Buy Now

Should you use the above link to purchase a book, delanceyplace proceeds
from your purchase will benefit a children’s literacy project.
Delanceyplace is a not-for-profit organization.

About Us

Delanceyplace is a brief daily email with an excerpt or quote we view as interesting or noteworthy, offered with commentary to provide context.  There is no theme, except that most excerpts will come from a non-fiction work, mainly works of history, are occasionally controversial, and we hope will have a more universal relevance than simply the subject of the book from which they came. 

To visit our homepage or sign up for our daily email click here
To view previous daily emails click here.
To sign up for our daily email click here.

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Published in: on February 19, 2011 at 2:36 pm  Comments (1)  
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Charlie Brown

“I’ve had a hard enough time just being Charlie Brown” :)

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In today’s encore excerpt – in 1952, the introduction of Charlie Brown and the comic strip Peanuts with its clean drawings and psychological orientation made for a stark contrast with both the clutter and vaudeville-gag orientation in other cartoon strips of the time:
“The American assumption was that children were happy and childhood was a golden time; it was adults who had problems with which they wrestled and pains that they sought to smooth. Schulz reversed the natural order of things … by showing that a child’s pain is more intensely felt than an adult’s – a child’s defeats the more acutely experienced and remembered.
“Readers recognized themselves in ‘poor moon- faced, unloved, misunderstood’ Charlie Brown – in his dignity in the face of whole seasons of doomed baseball games, his endurance and stoicism in the face of insults. He … reminded people as no other cartoon character had of what it was to be vulnerable, to be small and alone in the universe, to be human – both little and big at the same time.”

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Published in: on November 26, 2010 at 10:36 am  Leave a Comment  
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