The Founder

Cecil Rhodes & the Pursuit of Power

Robert I. Rotberg



Cecil Rhodes was an imposing figure, tall, robust-looking, with a leonine head, a man so charismatic that one contemporary claimed that "belief in Rhodes was a substitute for religion." But he was certainly a man of contradictions. He was a dreamy idealist whose favorite book was The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius and a ruthless businessman whose guiding principle was "every man has his price." He supported invidious racial laws in South Africa, and invented and sponsored the world-renowned Rhodes Scholarships. Though his own education and intellectual talents were unprepossessing, he dominated the British Empire and became one of the leading figures in the English-speaking world, the confidant of Queen Victoria and Kaiser Wilhelm, and a man of vast wealth and world-wide influence.


A large book on an outsize man....captures Rhodes' ceaseless energy, his venturesomeness, his homosexuality, his carelessness with procedure, his driving vision....a powerful read, thoroughly based in archives and in the Southern African landscape....As complex a view of the enigma as we are ever likely to attain. -Prosser Gifford,


Robert I. Rotberg is president emeritus of the World Peace Foundation and retired director of the Kennedy School of Government's Program on Interstate Conflict at Harvard University.