Blood on the Stone

Blood on the Stone

Greed, Corruption and War in the Global Diamond Trade

By Ian Smillie

'Blood on the Stone' is a gripping account of the cartel, warlords, gun runners and shadowy traders who populated Africa’s bloody diamond wars, and the faltering, decade-long effort to clean up an entire industry. 

Hardback, 252 Pages


August 2010

£70.00, $115.00

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About This Book

Africa's diamond wars took four million lives. They destroyed the lives of millions more and they crippled the economies of Angola, the Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The biggest UN peacekeeping forces in the world—in Sierra Leone, Liberia, the Congo and Côte d’Ivoire―are the legacy of 'conflict' or 'blood diamonds'.

'Blood on the Stone' tells the story of how diamonds came to be so dangerous. It describes the history of the great diamond cartel and how it gradually lost control of the precious mineral, as country after country descended into anarchy and wars fuelled by diamonds. The book describes the diamond pipeline, from war-torn Africa to the glittering showrooms of Paris, London and New York. It describes the campaign that began in 1999 and which eventually forced the industry and more than 50 governments to create a global certification system known as the Kimberley Process, aimed at wringing blood diamonds out of the retail trade. This gripping account concludes with a sobering assessment of the certification system, which soon became hostage to political chicanery, mismanagement and vested interests. Too important to fail, the Kimberley Process has been hailed as a regulatory model for Africa's extractive minerals. Behind the scenes, however, it runs the risk of becoming an ineffectual talk shop, standing aside as criminals re-infest the diamond world.


‘The book’s strengths are threefold. The first is that it explains the murky trade in rough diamonds in crisp, compelling prose. […] The second strength is that Smillie’s writing on Sierra Leone is excellent. It is one of the best summaries of that country’s civil war and how diamonds bankrolled the RUF. […] Third is that he offers memorable observations on the difficulties in launching the Kimberley Process.’ –‘No One’s Best Friend: A Canadian expert examines the devastation diamonds have wrought in four African countries’, book review by Blake Lambert in the ‘Literary Review of Canada’

'Timely and of interest.' —‘International Affairs’ January 2011 Book Reviews

'Smillie’s skill is the ability to write a scholarly record of the circumstances that created conflict diamonds while also providing an entertaining, fast-paced read full of intrigue. ‘Blood on the Stone’ will be welcomed by anyone interested in Africa, corporate social responsibility, and geopolitics.' —‘Gems & Gemology’ Winter 2010 Book Reviews

'Smillie is one of the most well-known experts and advocates on blood diamonds. […] ‘Blood on the Stone’ marks another contribution to a growing body of literature on natural resource extraction purchases.' —Lee Berthiaume, ‘Embassy’ magazine book review

'A masterly account of the dark side of the diamond trade. Smillie's scalpel has cut very deep.' —Matthew Hart, author of 'Diamond: the history of a cold-blooded love affair'

'Global Witness, after first alerting the world to the horror of blood diamonds in 1998, has worked closely with PAC on the campaign to stop diamonds funding war. Smillie's book is a fascinating read about the world of diamonds, war and greed.' —Charmian Gooch, co-founder, Global Witness

'Ian Smillie was among the first international and most eloquent investigators who understood and publicly denounced the use of 'blood diamonds'… In 'Blood on the Stone', he links his own experiences and deep knowledge of the diamond trade to the history of… how these gemstones with no intrinsic value drive conflict, corruption and mayhem. It is an important story, and one that needs to be understood if the world is to help end the misery of conflicts driven by commodities and greed.' —Douglas Farah, co-author of 'Merchant of Death: Money, Guns, Planes and the Man Who Makes War Possible'

'Very high-octane…by far the most interesting and illuminating account of the blood diamond campaign.' —Dr Lansana Gberie, author of 'A Dirty War in West Africa'

'Smillie's compelling narrative of the journey from teacher to prosecutor is touching and breathtaking.' —Peta Thornycroft, award-winning Zimbabwean journalist

'Required reading for anyone who still believes the diamond trade is only about love, honor and trust… A devastating, important work… Read this before you buy another diamond.' —Greg Campbell, co-author of 'Flawless: Inside the World's Largest Diamond Heist'

Author Information

Ian Smillie has lived and worked in Africa and Asia as a teacher, consultant, investigator and writer. For the past ten years his career has focused on blood diamonds, the wars they fuelled and a scheme designed to stop them. This has taken him from the jungles of West Africa to the backstreets of Antwerp and a war crimes tribunal in The Hague, where he was the first witness in the trial of Liberian warlord Charles Taylor. Smillie was appointed to the Order of Canada in 2003.


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Table of Contents

Glossary; Preface; Prologue; 1. Of Judgement and Cunning Work: Dirty Diamonds; 2. The River of Big Returns: Geology and History; 3. De Beers: The Delicate Equipoise; 4. Strange Plumbing: The Diamond Pipeline; 5. Angola: Another Distracting Sideshow; 6. Liberia and the Love of Liberty; 7. Sierra Leone: Diamonds in the RUF; 8. President Mobutu’s Ghost; 9. Enter al Qaeda; 10. Boiling Frogs: Companies in Hot Water; 11. Ice Storm: The NGO Campaign; 12. Kimberley: A Hope In Hell; 13. Endgames; Epilogue; Bibliography


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