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

Description

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).

Similar Books

ISBN 10: 1788162714
ISBN 13: 9781788162715

03 Jun 2021
Margalit Fox

ISBN 10: 1472273664
ISBN 13: 9781472273666

13 Apr 2021
Mark Synnott

ISBN 10: 0393652661
ISBN 13: 9780393652666

16 Mar 2021
Annalee Newitz

ISBN 10: 1398502316
ISBN 13: 9781398502314

09 Mar 2021
Walter Isaacson

ISBN 10: 1101875704
ISBN 13: 9781101875704

30 Mar 2021
Jonathan Meiburg

ISBN 10: 1984853848
ISBN 13: 9781984853844

01 Jun 2021
Margalit Fox

ISBN 10: 152474557X
ISBN 13: 9781524745578

13 Apr 2021
Mark Synnott

ISBN 10: 1324001933
ISBN 13: 9781324001935

14 Sep 2021
Mary Roach

ISBN 10: 0593136276
ISBN 13: 9780593136270

09 Feb 2021
Elizabeth Kolbert

ISBN 10: 0806540389
ISBN 13: 9780806540382

25 Feb 2021
Tim Brady

ISBN 10: 0316296619
ISBN 13: 9780316296618

27 Apr 2021
Malcolm Gladwell

ISBN 10: 0802158528
ISBN 13: 9780802158529

13 Apr 2021
Ross King