‘Ghost towns, corporate cruelty, the centuries-old relationship between humans and a species almost magical in its abilities … fabulous.’ The New York Times
‘A beautifully written book on diamond smuggling, the universe, life and much of what lies in between.’ Toby Muse, author of Kilo: Life and Death Inside the Secret World of the Cocaine Cartels
For nearly 80 years, a huge portion of coastal South Africa was closed off to the public. With many of its pits now deemed “overmined” and abandoned, journalist and author Matthew Gavin Frank set out across the infamous Diamond Coast to investigate an illicit trade – the smuggling of diamonds by carrier pigeon – that supplies a global market.
Uncovering a long overlooked true crime story dating back to the founding of the De Beers corporation, and blending elements of reportage, memoir and legend, he weaves interviews with local diamond divers, who extract mineral wealth from the seabed by day and raise pigeons in secret by night, with harrowing anecdotes from former heads of security, environmental managers, and vigilante pigeon hunters.
A rare and remarkable portrait of exploitation and greed, Flight of the Diamond Smugglers reveals how these feathered bandits became outlaws in every mining town.
‘Unforgettable. … An outstanding adventure in its lyrical, utterly compelling, and heartbreaking investigations of the world of diamond smuggling.’ Aimee Nezhukumatathil, author of Oceanic and World of Wonders
‘A lyrical portrait of a resilient species caught in the grinding gears of a cruel industry of extraction and exploitation.’ Kirk Wallace Johnson, author of The Feather Thief