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Flight of the diamond smugglers : a tale of pigeons, obsession, and greed along coastal South Africa / Matthew Gavin Frank.

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Available copies

  • 1 of 4 copies available at Missouri Evergreen. (Show)
  • 0 of 1 copy available at North Kansas City.

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0 current holds with 4 total copies.

Location Call Number / Copy Notes Barcode Shelving Location Status Due Date
North Kansas City Public Library 364.133609 FRANK 2021 (Text) 0001002437109 Nonfiction New In transit -

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Content descriptions

Bibliography, etc. Note:
Includes bibliographical references.
Formatted Contents Note:
Prologue -- Msizi and His Bird -- Isaac Newton & Co. -- Bartholomew Variation #1 -- Beyond the Pits of Alexander Bay -- Port Nolloth and the Halfway Desert -- Bartholomew Variation #2 -- Riding with the Faceless -- Driving to Kleinzee Amid Shipwrecks and Snakes -- Bartholomew Variation #3 -- New Rush and Kimberley: The De Beers Origin Story -- Beyond the Boom Gate, Touring the Erasure -- Bartholomew Variation #4 -- Pilgrims and the Mountain of Light: A Link Between Myth and Human History -- Odyssey to Die Houthoop -- Champagne and Death at Dark: The Origins of a Pigeon Obsession -- Bartholomew Variation #5 -- This Security Thing -- Bartholomew Variation #6 -- Epilogue.
Summary, etc.:
"Blending elements of reportage, memoir, and incantation, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers is a stunning investigation into the role of carrier pigeons in South African diamond smuggling. Nearly every town along South Africa's infamous diamond coast has been deemed "overmined." Before the area fully becomes a series of abandoned outposts, journalist Matthew Gavin Frank drives from Oranjemund, Namibia to the De Beers mining towns of Alexander Bay, Porth Nolloth, and Kleinzee. What begins as an attempt to peer behind the curtain cloaking the global diamond trade soon becomes a tale of obsession, as Frank learns about the various and ingenious methods used in illicit diamond smuggling-particularly, the sneaking of carrier pigeons onto mine property, affixing diamonds to them, and sending them into the air to fly home. So rampant is this method that a law in 1998 made it illegal to not shoot a pigeon on sight. Frank juxtaposes the endangered lives of local diamond diggers (whose average lifespan is 37 years) who raise pigeons in secret with the corporate boardrooms of De Beers, while also synthesizing myths across histories and cultures in which diamonds and gems intersect. As he speaks with miners, former heads of security, environmental managers, and more, he gets ever-closer to the elusive Mr. Lester-a tall-tale villain meant to frighten would-be smugglers, and the only person who can answer Frank's questions, if he is indeed real. Written in atmospheric and lyrical prose, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers becomes an urgent portrait of labor, greed, and our penchant for ownership"-- Provided by publisher.
Subject: Diamond smuggling > South Africa.
Diamond mines and mining > South Africa.
Homing pigeons > South Africa.

Syndetic Solutions - Summary for ISBN Number 9781631496028
Flight of the Diamond Smugglers : A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed along Coastal South Africa
Flight of the Diamond Smugglers : A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed along Coastal South Africa
by Frank, Matthew Gavin
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Summary

Flight of the Diamond Smugglers : A Tale of Pigeons, Obsession, and Greed along Coastal South Africa


For nearly eighty years, a huge portion of coastal South Africa was closed off to the public. With many of its pits now deemed "overmined" and abandoned, American journalist Matthew Gavin Frank sets out across the infamous Diamond Coast to investigate an illicit trade that supplies a global market. Immediately, he became intrigued by the ingenious methods used in facilitating smuggling?particularly, the illegal act of sneaking carrier pigeons onto mine property, affixing diamonds to their feet, and sending them into the air.Entering Die Sperrgebiet ("The Forbidden Zone") is like entering an eerie ghost town, but Frank is surprised by the number of people willing--even eager--to talk with him. Soon he meets Msizi, a young diamond digger, and his pigeon, Bartholomew, who helps him steal diamonds. It's a deadly game: pigeons are shot on sight by mine security, and Msizi knows of smugglers who have disappeared because of their crimes. For this, Msizi blames "Mr. Lester," an evil tall-tale figure of mythic proportions.From the mining towns of Alexander Bay and Port Nolloth, through the "halfway" desert, to Kleinzee's shores littered with shipwrecks, Frank investigates a long overlooked story. Weaving interviews with local diamond miners who raise pigeons in secret with harrowing anecdotes from former heads of security, environmental managers, and vigilante pigeon hunters, Frank reveals how these feathered bandits became outlaws in every mining town.Interwoven throughout this obsessive quest are epic legends in which pigeons and diamonds intersect, such as that of Krishna's famed diamond Koh-i-Noor, the Mountain of Light, and that of the Cherokee serpent Uktena. In these strange connections, where truth forever tangles with the lore of centuries past, Frank is able to contextualize the personal grief that sent him, with his wife Louisa in the passenger seat, on this enlightening journey across parched lands.Blending elements of reportage, memoir, and incantation, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers is a rare and remarkable portrait of exploitation and greed in one of the most dangerous areas of coastal South Africa. With his sovereign prose and insatiable curiosity, Matthew Gavin Frank "reminds us that the world is a place of wonder if only we look" (Toby Muse).

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