Review Essay

Stranger in Strange Lands

Joseph Conrad and the Dawn of Globalization

In This Review

The Dawn Watch
The Dawn Watch
By Maya Jasanoff
Penguin Press, 2017, 400 pp. Purchase

In the late nineteenth century and the first decade of the twentieth, nothing reshaped the world more than European imperialism. It redrew the map, enriched Europe, and left millions of Africans and Asians dead. For example, in 1870, some 80 percent of Africa south of the Sahara was under the control of indigenous kings, chiefs, or other such rulers. Within 35 years, virtually the entire continent, only a few patches excepted, was made up of European colonies or protectorates. France, Germany, Italy, Portugal, Spain, and the United Kingdom had all seized pieces of “this magnificent African cake,” in the words of King Leopold II of Belgium—who took an enormous slice for himself.

In Asia in these same years, the British tightened their grip on the Indian subcontinent, the French on Indochina, and the Dutch on what today is Indonesia. Japan, Russia, and half a dozen European countries, even the tottering Austro-Hungarian Empire,

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