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Legacy of Violence

A History of the British Empire

Caroline Elkins



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05 December 2023

From the Pulitzer Prize-winning historian, a searing, landmark study of the British Empire that lays bare its pervasive use of violence throughout the 20th century. Shortlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize.

Drawing on more than a decade of research on four continents, Caroline Elkins reveals the dark heart of Britain's Empire - a racialised, systemised doctrine of unrelenting violence, which it used to secure and maintain its interests across the globe.

When Britain could no longer maintain control over that violence, it simply retreated - and sought to destroy the evidence. Legacy of Violence is a monumental achievement, exploding long-held myths, and deserves the attention of anyone seeking to understand empire's role in shaping the world today.

'Masterly... This book is dynamite.' - Robert Gildea, author of Empires of the Mind

'Not so much a history book, as a book of historical significance.' - BBC History Magazine

'Riveting.' - New Statesman

'Crucial... as unflinching as it is gripping, as carefully researched as it is urgently necessary.' - Jill Lepore, author of These Truths

Imprint:   Vintage
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 198mm,  Width: 129mm,  Spine: 54mm
Weight:   699g
ISBN:   9780099540250
ISBN 10:   0099540258
Pages:   896
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  Professional and scholarly ,  College/higher education ,  ELT Advanced ,  Undergraduate
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and of African and African American studies at Harvard University and the founding director of Harvard's Centre for African Studies. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Fulbright and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship. Her first book, Britain's Gulag- The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Her research for that book was the subject of the award-winning BBC documentary Kenya- White Terror. She also served as an expert in the historic Mau Mau reparations case, brought against the British Government by survivors of violence in Kenya. She is a contributor to the New York Times Book Review, Guardian, Atlantic, Washington Post and New Republic. She lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.

Reviews for Legacy of Violence: A History of the British Empire

Masterful, crucial ... as unflinching as it is gripping, as carefully researched as it is urgently necessary -- Jill Lepore, author of These Truths Masterly... demonstrates that the British Empire, far from being part good, part bad, baked together from the outset state-sponsored violence and institutional racism with a periodic rewriting of its history as one of progress and civilisation, covering up atrocities and hiding or destroying incriminating documents. This book is dynamite -- Robert Gildea, author of Empires of the Mind The history of the British Empire that we desperately need today... Sweeping, forceful, and passionately argued... A monumental achievement -- Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch A gripping, richly peopled, epic narrative... In stunning prose and drawing on staggering research, Elkins uncovers the reality of routine and ruthlessly violent suspension of law and militarized policing as imperial personnel and practices moved from crisis to crisis around the globe -- Priya Satia, author of Time's Monster: How History Makes History In nothing was the British Empire more successful than its skilful concealment of the violence that it unleashed across the globe, over centuries. Caroline Elkins' Legacy of Violence is a laudably ambitious attempt at unearthing this hidden legacy, the bitter fruits of which are becoming more and more visible every day -- Amitav Ghosh, author of The Nutmeg's Curse

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