MINING: Diamond Cut Diamond

To Britain's diamond cartel, a most disturbing thing had happened in 1941. A fabulously rich diamond bed was discovered in Tanganyika, Africa. It was eight times larger than South Africa's famed Premier Mine, previously the world's largest, and thus big enough to break the cartel's tight control of the diamond market. Even more worrisome to the cartel were signs that the new bed's discoverer, a bearded, scholarly Canadian named John Thorburn Williamson, 40, did not intend to join the cartel.

The son of a retired Canadian lumber dealer, Williamson was used to playing a lone hand. After acquiring a Ph.D. in...

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