Glitter & Greed: The Secret World of the Diamond
By Janine Roberts
The Disinformation Company Ltd.
Few status symbols are as pervasive as diamonds. Some people revel in
showing off their glittering diamond rings or dream of being able to do
so. In Glitter & Greed, Janine Roberts smashes the aura of mystique
and glamour that are associated with diamonds. Based on information
gathered for her documentary film, “The Diamond Empire,” Roberts’ book
is guaranteed to take the sparkle out of any diamond.
This expose on the global diamond trade
reveals the seamier side of the De Beers monopoly and the industry in
general. Diamonds are advertised as symbols of love, notably in
promoting sales of engagement or eternity rings. The cold reality is
diamonds are one of the most profitable resources on earth, and
corporate greed is a powerful force to be reckoned with.
One of the strong points of Roberts’ book is her first hand accounts.
This is no compilation of other people’s research, but one where the
author speaks directly with African mineworkers and their families,
Australian aboriginals and New York diamond sellers and government
officials. She doesn’t play on emotion or numb the reader with page
upon page of statistics. It’s a fast-paced read where each chapter
pries open yet another unsavory aspect of the diamond business few
people know about.
Glitter & Greed takes the reader on a whirlwind tour of the world’s
major diamond mines. One of the first stops is South Africa, site of
the largest and oldest diamond mining operations in the world. Here,
black miners are housed in segregated, decrepit “prison-like” barracks.
Her descriptions of the horrendous conditions and callous treatment of
workers resonate with images of the worst gulags; only these men are
workers not inmates.
Just as this disturbing information sinks in, Roberts whisks us to
India where 85 per cent of gem quality diamonds are cut and polished.
It’s low paid and hazardous work, and the “diamond-cutting sweatshops”
often employ children. During her visit, Roberts says she saw boys who
“were seemingly as young as eight or nine.”
In her chapter Diamonds and Tribal Rights, Roberts visits Australia
where the greed for diamonds has caused the destruction of aboriginal
burial grounds and sacred sites as mines and roads are carved into
native territory with no recourse or compensation offered to the
Canada touts its own relatively new diamond industry in the Northwest
Territories, but Roberts says the result is environmental degradation
of land, water and native wildlife, including the disruption of caribou
migration paths. A De Beers slogan says, “Diamonds are forever” but,
according to Roberts, damage to the environment in the tundra’s fragile
eco-system is also virtually forever.
Besides the ramifications of mining and processing diamonds, Roberts
also delves into the issue of conflict or “blood” diamonds and their
role in provoking and prolonging wars on the African continent. And
it’s not just recent conflicts like in Angola and Sierra Leone. There
are decades of African history where diamonds have played a role in the
installation of dictators and the assassination of elected leaders. As
Roberts tells it, lurking in the shadows of many such conflicts are
foreign governments, the diamond industry and sometimes even
(surprise!) the CIA.
Throughout her book, Roberts presents chapter after chapter crammed
with information about all facets of the diamond trade. Alarming? Yes.
The epilogue is particularly chilling as Roberts tells of her struggle
to get her film made and her book published. She was even beaten and
sexually assaulted by thugs who broke into her home. Coincidence or
Pick up a copy of Glitter & Greed. It will change the way you look
Lines in the
Sand: New writing on war and peace
Compiled and Edited by Mary Hoffman and Rhiannon Lassiter
The Disinformation Company Ltd.
In a perfect world, books like Lines in the Sand would not exist. It’s
a children’s book about war. Edited by a mother and daughter team, Mary
Hoffman and Rhiannon Lassiter, this compilation of 150 stories, poems
and artwork by an international collection of children’s writers and
illustrators is designed to make young people aware of the human cost
of war and to think about the benefits of peace.
There are freshly minted works about the
conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan, but there are also stories in
historical settings, from the Crusades, World War II and the Vietnam
War. Most, but certainly not all, are written from a child’s
perspective, and depict about how war devastates their lives and
nurtures long lasting hatred and fears.
Croatian author Sabina Horvat’s story, Heartmines is about a group of
Croatian children who welcome a new boy to join their soccer game.
Their friendliness ends quickly when they discover he is Serbian. “The
Serbs attacked the Croatians,” said Katica, Tom’s sister. “They killed
our father. You’re a murderer!”’
The poems and illustrations leap from the pages with immediate, raw
emotion over the futility of war and a sense of helplessness in
preventing yet more death and destruction as world leaders pursue their
own agendas for domination.
Geared towards readers eight years and up, Lines in the Sand can be a
good first step to discuss the ramifications of war for people
everywhere. With its stories and poems and illustrations that depict
the search for peace or the tears of children, there is much to ponder
in Lines in the Sand.
The book is dedicated to “all children who suffer through war” and
royalties and profits from sales of Lines in the Sand go to UNICEF’s
emergency appeal for the children of Iraq.