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Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain Paperback – 7 Oct. 2021

4.5 out of 5 stars 1,550 ratings

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From the Publisher

Product description


I only wish this book had been around when I was at school -- Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

A fascinating reckoning with a history of empireGuardian, 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

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

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 historyJames 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

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

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

impassioned and deeply personal journey through Britain's imperial past and present ... a moving and stimulating book that deserves to be widely readThe 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 empireFT

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

Sathnam Sanghera was born to Punjabi immigrant parents in Wolverhampton in 1976. He entered the education system unable to speak English but went on to graduate from Christ's College, Cambridge with a first class degree in English Language and Literature. He has been shortlisted for the Costa Book Awards twice, for his memoir The Boy With The Topknot and his novel Marriage Material. Empireland has been longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-Fiction. He lives in London.

Product details

  • 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
  • Customer reviews:
    4.5 out of 5 stars 1,550 ratings

About the author

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Sathnam Sanghera was born to Punjabi parents in the West Midlands in 1976. He entered the education system unable to speak English but, after attending Wolverhampton Grammar School, graduated from Christ’s College, Cambridge with a first class degree in English Language and Literature. Before becoming a writer he (among other things) worked at a burger chain, a hospital laundry, a market research firm, a sewing factory and a literacy project in New York.

Between 1998 and 2006 he was at The Financial Times, where he worked (variously) as a news reporter in the UK and the US, specialised in writing about the media industries, worked across the paper as Chief Feature Writer, and wrote an award-winning weekly business column. Sathnam joined The Times as a columnist and feature writer in 2007 and is a regular contributor on national radio and TV, having appeared on programmes including Have I Got News For You and BBC Front Row Late and presented a range of documentaries, including The Massacre That Shook The Empire on Channel 4, which was shortlisted for best Factual TV show at the 2019 Asian Media Awards.

Sathnam’s first book, The Boy With The Topknot: A Memoir of Love, Secrets and Lies in Wolverhampton, was shortlisted for the 2008 Costa Biography Award, the 2009 PEN/Ackerley Prize and named 2009 Mind Book of the Year. It was adapted for BBC2 by Kudos/Parti Productions, featured Bafta-nominated and EEACTA-winning performances, won a Mipcom Diversify TV Excellence Award, was named Best TV Programme at the 2018 Asian Media Awards and Best Single Drama at the RTS Midlands Awards, and was described by The Radio Times as a “smash hit”.

His novel, Marriage Material, has been shortlisted for a 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award and a 2013 Costa Book Award, been longlisted for the 2014 Desmond Elliot Prize, picked by The Sunday Times, The Observer and Metro as one of the novels of 2013, and cited as one of the Guardian Readers’ Books of the Year in 2014. It is being adapted for the stage at the Birmingham Rep by award-winning playwright Gurpreet Kaur Bhatti.

He has won numerous prizes for his journalism, including the accolade of Young Journalist of the Year at the British Press Awards in 2002, Article of the Year in the 2005 Management Today Writing Awards, Newspaper Feature of the Year in the 2005 Workworld Media Awards, HR Journalist of the Year in the 2006 and 2009 Watson Wyatt Awards for Excellence, Media Commentator of the Year in the 2015 Comment Awards and the Edgar Wallace Trophy for Writing of the Highest Quality in the 2017 London Press Club Awards.

He was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Letters for services to journalism by The University of Wolverhampton in September 2009 and a President’s Medal by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in 2010. In 2016 he was elected a Fellow of The Royal Society of Literature, was bestowed with the Pride of Pothohar Award in 2018 for his contribution to the Sikh community, while in 2013 writer Jonathan Coe named him one of “The Men of Next 25 years” in GQ Magazine saying that “whether he’s writing autobiography or fiction, Sathnam is busy carving out his own literary niche – in the multicultural British Midlands – which he explores with incredible grace, generosity and humour”.

He has written an introduction to a Vintage Classics edition of The Old Wives’ Tale by Arnold Bennett. The Boy With The Topknot, was originally published by Penguin in hardback as If You Don’t Know Me By Now. Marriage Material is published in the USA by Europa Editions. He has been a judge for The Wellcome Book Prize and The Costa Book Awards, was formerly a trustee for mental health charity Rethink and chair of media charity Creative Access, and is a patron for Writing West Midlands. He lives in London and his third book, EmpireLand: How Modern Britain is Shaped by its Imperial Past will be published by Viking Books in 2021.

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