Legacy: Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarships by Philip Ziegler

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<ul><li><p>Book Review</p><p>Philip Ziegler. Legacy: Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Trust and Rhodes Scholarships.New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2008. 400 pp. Hardcover$45.00.</p><p>Every summer I take a group of forty to fifty students to South Africa tostudy higher education, history, and culture in this remarkable country.And every summer, our tour guide takes us by the statue of Cecil JohnRhodes in Cape Town. Having some knowledge of Rhodes, both goodand bad, I always tell myself to read more about him and investigate hislifeFbut other things get in the way. As such, I was particularly pleasedto review Philip Zieglers new book Legacy: Cecil Rhodes, the Rhodes Trustand Rhodes Scholarships. The book is beautifully written, painstakinglyresearched, and engaging. Ziegler is able to paint a nuanced picture ofRhodes, showing the complexities of this influential imperialist and theimpact of his legacy.</p><p>Cecil John Rhodes, an English businessman and financier, is thefather of the modern diamond industry. Along with a partner, hefounded De Beers Consolidated Mines in 1888, and with that, was onhisway to amassing power and extending theBritishEmpire.He is also awell-known statesman and philanthropist, having started the RhodesScholarships. Zieglers book answers many of the questions aroundRhodes motives, outlook on the world, and impact on business, nationbuilding, and education.</p><p>Of note, Ziegler was commissioned by the Chair of the RhodesTrust to write this history. Typically official histories merely highlightthe accomplishments of an organization or individual. However, givenZieglers impressive scholarly background, he was true to form andprovides the reader with a more or less balanced view of Rhodes and thetrust. On occasion he refrains from being critical of the RhodesScholarship selection process or Oxford Universitys role in theRhodes scholars experiences, but overall, he gives the reader keeninsight into the mind of Cecil Rhodes and those who followed him,and the coveted Rhodes Scholarships.</p><p>Of particular interest to historians of education, Cecil Rhodes hadvery specific goals for his scholarships, some of which were large scale.For instance, according to Ziegler, Rhodes hoped that his scholarshipswould create educational connections between England and the rest ofthe Anglo-Saxon world in an effort to end war. Rather than meek orbookish professors, Rhodeswanted the scholars to be strong, heartymenwith robust personalities. Applicants were to be chosen two-fifths on</p><p>History of Education Quarterly Vol. 50 No. 2 May 2010 Copyright r 2010 by the History of Education Society</p></li><li><p>their academic achievements, one-fifth on their quality of character,one-fifth for their participation in sports, and one-fifth for theircontributions to society. Also of note, Rhodes was insistent that acandidate could not be turned away because of race or religion(gender was another matter until later). Of course, he was most likelynot talking about Black South Africans, but instead the Boers (todaysAfrikaaners) who had been despised by the British. Although Rhodesmaintained his central goal of uniting the British colonies (minus India)in solidarity around language and perspective through the scholarships,he really did not achieve it from Zieglers perspective. The scholarshipsdid, however, establish a group of national leaders (including presidents,premiers, and prime ministers) with a common perspective and almostacross the lot, a commitment to service.</p><p>One of the aspects of the book that I found most troubling, eventhough it waswell researched, is that of Zieglers conclusions. In the end,he argues that Rhodess good deeds far outweigh his penchant forexploitation and imperialism. Im not sure I buy this argument. As withmost industrial philanthropistsFthe Rockefellers, the Carnegies, forinstanceFRhodes seems to have established his scholarship programfor reasons of self-interest and as a way to enhance his image, which hadbeen sullied time and time again by his notorious deeds. Perhaps Zieglercould have come to the same conclusionmy ten-year-old daughter cameto when she found out Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson ownedslavesFthey were a little good and a little bad, not that the goodoutweighed the bad.</p><p>Perhaps what I liked most about Zieglers meaty book is thequestions that he poses throughout to the reader. He ends with onethat I often think about in general. What is cause and what is effect? Heasks, Do Rhodes Scholars perform public duties because they areRhodes Scholars, or are they selected as Rhodes Scholars because theyseem the sort of people likely to performpublic duties? (p. 333). Zieglerconcludes that it is probably a bit of both. However, he reminds thereader that a high proportion of Rhodes Scholars insist that theirexperience as Rhodes Scholars gave them an added sense ofresponsibility and a resolve to pay back to society some of the benefitstheir privileged education had bestowed on them (p. 333).</p><p>I recommend this book to those interested in cultural imperialism,international education, access and equity, and philanthropy. It is acomplex volume that could add greatly to any intellectual discussion.</p><p>MARYBETH GASMANUNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA</p><p>262 History of Education Quarterly</p></li></ul>


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