Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain
A best-selling journalist’s illuminating tour through the hidden legacies and modern realities of British empire that exposes how much of the present-day United Kingdom is actually rooted in its colonial past. Empireland boldly and lucidly makes the case that in order to understand America, we must first understand British imperialism.
"Empireland is brilliantly written, deeply researched and massively important. It’ll stay in your head for years.” —John Oliver, Emmy Award-winning host of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver"
With a new introduction by the author and a foreword by Booker Prize-winner Marlon James
A best-selling journalist’s illuminating tour through the hidden legacies and modern realities of British empire that exposes how much of the present-day United Kingdom is actually rooted in its colonial past. Empireland boldly and lucidly makes the case that in order to understand America, we must first understand British imperialism. Empire—whether British or otherwise—informs nearly everything we do. From common thought to our daily routines; from the foundations of social safety nets to the realities of racism; and from the distrust of public intellectuals to the exceptionalism that permeates immigration debates, the Brexit campaign and the global reckonings with controversial memorials, Empireland shows how the pernicious legacy of Western imperialism undergirds our everyday lives, yet remains shockingly obscured from view.
In accessible, witty prose, award-winning journalist and best-selling author Sathnam Sanghera traces this legacy back to its source, exposing how—in both profound and innocuous ways—imperial domination has shaped the United Kingdom we know today. Sanghera connects the historical dots across continents and seas to show how the shadows of a colonial past still linger over modern-day Britain and how the world, in turn, was shaped by Britain’s looming hand. The implications, of course, extend to Britain’s most notorious former colony turned imperial power: the United States of America, which prides itself for its maverick soul and yet seems to have inherited all the ambition, brutality and exceptional thinking of its parent.
With a foreword by Booker Prize–winner Marlon James, Empireland is a revelatory and lucid work of political history that offers a sobering appraisal of the past so we may move toward a more just future.
Praise for Empireland: How Imperialism Has Shaped Modern Britain
"Empireland is brilliantly written, deeply researched and massively important. It’ll stay in your head for years.”
—John Oliver, Emmy Award-winning host of "Last Week Tonight with John Oliver"
"A generously shared journey of discovery. Sanghera is a journalist in the Orwellian mold, inviting readers to witness his experiment on himself as an example of the conclusions that a decent, acerbically witty, public-school-educated Brit might arrive at after wading through the evidence of what Britain owes to empire."
Praise from Great Britain for Empireland
"Robust . . . an illuminating examination of the 'toxic cocktail of nostalgia and amnesia' that still hugely influences our life today"
—Guardian, "Best Books of 2021"
"A fascinating reckoning with a history of empire"
—Guardian, "Best Politics Books of 2021"
"Immensely readable . . . simultaneously personal and scholarly. [Empireland] 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."
—Financial Times, "Best Books of 2021: Politics"
“Meticulously sourced . . . Sanghera’s uncompromising assessment will certainly face disapproval, especially from those who regard criticism of empire as somehow unpatriotic. But a long, hard look at such a formative period is way overdue.”
“There is something to be said for authors who approach the topic [of empire] in the spirit of engaged curiosity rather than didactic declamation . . . Sanghera is a deft synthesist who sifts through mounds of historical treatises and alights on visceral, often shocking details.”
—Times Literary Supplement
"A balanced and insightful study of the British empire and contemporary attitudes towards it"
"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."
“Empireland takes a perfectly-judged approach to its contentious but necessary subject”
—Jonathan Coe, bestelling author and winner of the European Book Prize
“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, journalist and host of "Unfiltered with James O'Brien"