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Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain Paperback – 7 Oct. 2021
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WINNER OF THE 2022 BRITISH BOOK AWARD FOR NARRATIVE NONFICTION
***THE BOOK THAT INSPIRED THE CHANNEL 4 DOCUMENTARY 'EMPIRE STATE OF MIND'***
THE SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER
'The real remedy is education of the kind that Sanghera has embraced - accepting, not ignoring, the past' Gerard deGroot, The Times
EMPIRE explains why there are millions of Britons living worldwide.
EMPIRE explains Brexit and the feeling that we are exceptional.
EMPIRE explains our distrust of cleverness.
EMPIRE explains Britain's particular brand of racism.
Strangely hidden from view, the British Empire remains a subject of both shame and glorification. In his bestselling book, Sathnam Sanghera shows how our imperial past is everywhere: from how we live and think to the foundation of the NHS and even our response to the COVID-19 crisis.
At a time of great division, when we are arguing about what it means to be British, Empireland is a groundbreaking revelation - a much-needed and enlightening portrait of contemporary British society, shining a light on everything that usually gets left unsaid.
'Empireland takes a perfectly-judged approach to its contentious but necessary subject' Jonathan Coe
'I only wish this book has been around when I was at school' Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
'This remarkable book shines the brightest of lights into some of the darkest and most misunderstood corners of our shared history' James O'Brien
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A fascinating reckoning with a history of empire ― Guardian, Best Politics Books of 2021
A balanced and insightful study of the British empire and contemporary attitudes towards it ― The Times, Best Paperbacks of 2021
This immensely readable book is very timely. The account by Sanghera, a former FT writer, is simultaneously personal and scholarly. It addresses many of the questions that are now urgent subjects of public debate - such as Britain's role in the slave trade and the connections between empire and multiculturalism -- Gideon Rachmen ― Financial Times, Best Books of 2021: Politics
An important book and that's not a phrase to use lightly. It's an exposé and a reminder of how conveniently the British have rewritten the past and buried the bones of their shame . . . a necessary, uncomfortable and illuminating read -- Kit de Waal ― New Statesman, Books of the Year
Robust . . . an illuminating examination of the "toxic cocktail of nostalgia and amnesia" that still hugely influences our life today -- Cathy Rentzenbrink ― Guardian, Best Books of 2021
This remarkable book shines the brightest of lights into some of the darkest and most misunderstood corners of our shared history ― James O'Brien
[Empireland] should be on the compulsory reading list of every secondary school in the country -- John Simpson
Lucid but never simplistic; entertaining but never frivolous; intensely readable while always mindful of nuance and complexity - Empireland takes a perfectly-judged approach to its contentious but necessary subject -- Jonathan Coe
Empireland by Sathnam Sanghera is a salutary reminder of the dark side of our past. I spend my time trying to help resolve armed conflicts from Myanmar to Nigeria that are largely caused by the crass errors of our ancestors. It helps to understand how those came about -- Jonathan Powell ― New Statesman, Books of the Year
A gracefully written book, but its real beauty lies in its complete absence of dogmatism ... Empireland is not an angry diatribe. It's a sensitive, often uncomfortable commentary on the stubborn influence of empire ... The real remedy is education of the kind that Sanghera has embraced - accepting, not ignoring, the past -- Gerard deGroot ― The Times
This remarkable book shines the brightest of lights into some of the darkest and most misunderstood corners of our shared history. As urgent as it is illuminating . . . Sanghera's meticulous research and passionate advocacy combine to create an irresistible case for reviewing much of what we think we know about the reality and legacy of the British Empire ― James O'Brien
In this witty and multi-faceted portrait of our nation, the award-winning journalist and novelist looks with great acuity at how the Empire wrought contemporary Britain ― Bookseller
[An] impassioned and deeply personal journey through Britain's imperial past and present ... a moving and stimulating book that deserves to be widely read ― The Guardian
Excellent ... he is a good guide to the complexities of the issues ... And he is largely positive about Britain and its future -- Andrew Marr ― Sunday Times
The best book on the British empire for a very long time -- Diane Abbott
A scorching polemic on the afterburn of empire ― FT
A wonderful, wonderful book -- David Lammy
This account of how much of our "island story" was written in other countries deserves to be widely read. His decency and talent remind us of how much we owe to all those immigrants from our empire who came to make their lives here and too often (but happily not always) had to face hostility with a racist hue. The racism was frequently sired by our imperial past ― The Tablet
A really interesting look at the history of empire - everything we're not taught at school - and how learning that history could change the way we view our country today -- Krishnan Guru-Murthy
This thoroughly engaging and incredibly important book must be read by everyone. The sometimes heartbreaking read is enlightening and transformative. This remarkable work should be included in school curriculum... The informative book will undoubtedly continue to improve the understanding of future generations and perhaps even shape them ― Eastern Eye
Empireland argues passionately that our identity has been shaped for the worse by empire, and that we must do more to debunk national myths ― Prospect, Books of the Year 2021
In the wake of personal epiphany we glimpse with Sanghera pathways of transformative potential ... a simple but profound response - this searching introspection and a quest for new horizons, combined with a readiness to sit with the contradictions of it all ― Observer
My book of the year so far. A really thoughtful, deeply researched and elegantly written look at the legacy of empire -- Gideon Rachman ― Financial Times
Very well written ... decent, balanced and wise. His decency and talent remind us of how much we owe to all those immigrants from our empire who came to make their lives here -- Chris Patten ― The Tablet
About the Author
- Publisher : Viking; 1st edition (7 Oct. 2021)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 352 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0241445310
- ISBN-13 : 978-0241445310
- Dimensions : 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
- Best Sellers Rank: 810 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United Kingdom on 28 February 2021
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Though the author has listed over 600 references, they were mainly published by Western, liberal, elites who are invariably antagonistic to the Empire and vilify it at every opportunity. Surprisingly, there is only one produced by an Indian who lived during the colonial era. Large numbers of books were published by Indians pre-independence or in the decades immediately after. These Indian experienced the Empire at first hand and surely they are best placed to judge the Empire. Why have their voices been put on mute? The only Indians he refers to were born long after independence. A critique of the book based on the publications of these forgotten Indians is available on the web in the site Forgotten Raj.
I also wonder how much the author knows about life in India. He admits his family told him little about it. The only member of his family who experienced the Empire respected the British. On his visits to India he is unable to communicate with them as he doesn't speak the language. Has he ever visited an Indian school. hospital, law court, museum or parliament? I suspect not. He spent some time in India researching the Amritsar massacre and it appears that he views the Empire through the prism of this event. Hence his account of how the colonies were affected leaves much to be desired.
I was also keen to read it as I have always lived in pretty WASPish regions, currently in a small Cotswold village whose village school has been criticised by OFSTED for not being more multicultural - challenging when the local community is by nature monocultural because there simply are no immigrants or British citizens of foreign descent. My Scottish husband is about as close as it comes to an ethnic minority in this very English village.
The book is very well researched and presented and can be read as a series of essays on different sub-themes. It is very well researched (nearly 50 pages of bibliography for just over 200 pages of narrative), and provides ample recommendations for further reading for those who want to explore further. The author, British born and bred, and the descendant of immigrants, is a likeable and dignified narrator who presents in my view a balanced and fair approach to the issues he discusses.
It includes many challenging and difficult details to read, such as some horrific acts of cruelty, but these are cited sparingly and must be addressed as part of the overall picture.
I am very glad I read this book and now feel better equipped to deal with national and global conversations about racism and the legacy of colonialism and empire, and I will also be able to put better into context museum displays and public statuary that relate to this part of our history, which need to be given a much higher profile as part of our society, its culture and its history, for us properly to process the past and move on in a more unified, egalitarian and peaceful future. I really hope it reaches the very wide audience it deserves. Thank you, Sathnam Sanghera, for opening my eyes.
It's a very timely publication especially with the current BLM movement and the conversation of whether various statues should remain in place. He gives a potted history of the empire: its origins, its modus operandi, its excesses and its consequences. Due to the relatively slim volume, about 200 pages, it can only be anecdotes but the author goes to great lengths to point out when differing opinions exist, which is quite often when it comes to the British empire. He then suggests how and why the legacy of the empire shapes our collective ( British) thought processes in both national politics and personal behaviour towards those from former colonies and I think he gets it pretty spot on. I would strongly recommend Shashi Tharoor's excellent 'Inglorious Empire' for those wanting to find out a bit more about the British in India.
I recommend this book for all (white and non-white)) British persons for an insight into their pasts, their current thinking and hopefully a better future. I agree with the author that the single best way forward is to make teaching of the empire along with all its excesses mandatory in schools. Then, and only then, will a new generation be aware of our past, be able to understand our present and hopefully conduct our future with fairness and compassion. What to do with certain statues will fall into place quite naturally.