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From The Congo to Capitol Hill - A Coming-of-Age Memoir

About the Book

A remarkable memoir, spanning two continents and two separate life-stages, of an American's intimate engagement with the Congo.


Caught up in a racially fraught crisis at an American White missionary-led university in the Congo, a young American professor is publicly fired by a government cabinet minister. Several years later, he becomes a key staff aide for a congressional committee that is battling, amidst Cold War anxieties, to distance the U.S. from the "friendly" Congo dictator's corruption and human rights abuses. This insider's account provides rare first hand insights that illuminate some of today's burning issues: the dynamics of racial conflict, the paranoia and narcissism of authoritarian regimes and, especially, the hidden dysfunctions of the U.S. Congress, State Department and pundit press. At the same time, it is an honest reflection on the author's tortuous personal and political growth. The book's focus on individual agency in challenging environments resonates strongly today as more Americans venture into authoritarian countries and struggle to maintain democratic institutions at home.



"I was fascinated both by his life-altering experience in the Congo and by his first-hand picture of what happens behind closed doors on Capitol Hill."

- Adam Hochshild, best-selling author of King Leopold's Ghosts and American Midnight.



Stephen R. Weissman's previous books are: American Foreign Policy in the Congo 1960-1964 (Cornell Univ. Press) and A Culture of Deference: Congress's Failure of Leadership in Foreign Policy (Basic Books).


After 13 years as a political science professor, Weissman joined the staff of the U.S. House of Representatives' Subcommittee on Africa where he served for a dozen years. Later, he was Legislative Representative for Public Citizen for campaign finance and election reform and Associate Director for Policy at the Campaign Finance Institute.