The Truth About Empire

Alan Lester, Sathnam Sanghera


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C Hurst & Co Publishers Ltd
27 June 2024
ISBN: 9781911723097
304 pages

From the publisher

Edited by Alan Lester and with a foreword by Sathnam Sanghera.

Sharp, authoritative essays on the dark realities of Empire and the true historian's importance for democracy, amid history's appropriation by apologists, racists and culture warriors.

The Truth About Empire comes from expert historians who believe that the truth, as far as we can ascertain it, matters; that our decades of painstaking research make us worth listening to; and that our authority as leading professionals should count for something in today's polarised debates over Britain's imperial past.

Colonial history is now a battlefield in the culture war. The public's understanding of past events is continually distorted by wilful caricatures. Communities that long struggled to get their voices heard have, in their fight to highlight the hidden horrors of colonialism, alienated many who prefer a celebratory national history. The backlash, orchestrated by elements of the media, has generated a new, concerted denial of imperial racism and violence in Britain's past--a disinformation campaign sharing both tactics and motivations with those around Covid, Brexit and climate change.

From Australia and China to South Africa and Egypt, this essay collection is an accessible guide to the British Empire, and a weapon of defence against the assault on historical truth. The disturbing stories told in these pages, of Empire's culture, politics and economics, show why professional research matters, when deciding what can and cannot be known about Britain's colonial history.