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1 Burnside Africa- Kenya

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

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Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya Cover

ISBN13: 9780805076530
ISBN10: 0805076530
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

A major work of history that for the first time reveals the violence and terror at the heart of Britain's civilizing mission in Kenya.

As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler, the British colonial government detained nearly the entire population of Kenya's largest ethnic minority, the Kikuyu — some one and a half million people.

The compelling story of the system of prisons and work camps where thousands met their deaths has remained largely untold — the victim of a determined effort by the British to destroy all official records of their attempts to stop the Mau Mau uprising, the Kikuyu people's ultimately successful bid for Kenyan independence.

Caroline Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard University, spent a decade in London, Nairobi, and the Kenyan countryside interviewing hundreds of Kikuyu men and women who survived the British camps, as well as the British and African loyalists who detained them.

The result is an unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya — a pivotal moment in twentieth-century history with chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.

Review:

"In a major historical study, Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard, relates the gruesome, little-known story of the mass internment and murder of thousands of Kenyans at the hands of the British in the last years of imperial rule. Beginning with a trenchant account of British colonial enterprise in Kenya, Elkins charts white supremacy's impact on Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu, and the radicalization of a Kikuyu faction sworn by tribal oath to extremism known as Mau Mau. Elkins recounts how in the late 1940s horrific Mau Mau murders of white settlers on their isolated farms led the British government to declare a state of emergency that lasted until 1960, legitimating a decade-long assault on the Kikuyu. First, the British blatantly rigged the trial of and imprisoned the moderate leader Jomo Kenyatta (later Kenya's first postindependence prime minister). Beginning in 1953, they deported or detained 1.4 million Kikuyu, who were systematically 'screened,' and in many cases tortured, to determine the extent of their Mau Mau sympathies. Having combed public archives in London and Kenya and conducted extensive interviews with both Kikuyu survivors and settlers, Elkins exposes the hypocrisy of Britain's supposed colonial 'civilizing mission' and its subsequent coverups. A profoundly chilling portrait of the inherent racism and violence of 'colonial logic,' Elkins's account was also the subject of a 2002 BBC documentary entitled Kenya: White Terror. Her superbly written and impassioned book deserves the widest possible readership. B&w photos, maps. Agent, Jill Kneerim." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"Sure to touch off scholarly debate and renew interest in recent, deliberately forgotten history." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Filling a previously blank page in history, Elkins' pioneering study is a crucial recording of Kenyan history in particular, and that of African decolonization in general." Booklist

Review:

"[A] chilling account....[I]ntense scholarly research....This compelling account of the British colonial government's atrocities can be compared to Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost. Highly recommended." Library Journal

Review:

"Caroline Elkins has written an important book that can change our understanding not just of Africa but of ourselves. Through exhaustive research in neglected colonial archives and intrepid reporting among long-forgotten Kikuyu elders in Kenya's Rift Valley, Elkins has documented not just the true scale of a huge and harrowing crime — Britain's ruthless suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion — but also the equally shocking concealment of that crime and the inversion of historical memory." Bill Berkeley, author of The Graves Are Not Yet Full: Race, Tribe and Power in the Heart of Africa

Review:

"On the basis of the most painstaking research, Caroline Elkins has starkly illuminated one of the darkest secrets of late British imperialism. She has shown how, even when they profess the most altruistic of intentions, empires can still be brutal in their response to dissent by subject peoples. We all need reminding of that today." Niall Ferguson, Professor of History, Harvard University, and Senior Research Fellow, Jesus College, Oxford; author of Colossus: The Price of America's Empire and Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power

Review:

"In the 1950s, Mau Mau provided the Western world with photographic evidence of what Africa and Africans 'were like': savage, bloodthirsty, and in need of British civilization. Imperial Reckoning shows us how these images neglected to show the brutality and savagery being committed against the Kenyan Kikuyu people detained by the British. Caroline Elkins fills out the images, tells the rest of the story, and corrects the record in this masterful book." Henry Louis Gates, Jr., W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University

Review:

"Rarely does a book come along that transforms the world's understanding of a country and its past by bringing to light buried, horrifying truths and redrawing central contours of its image. With voluminous evidence, Caroline Elkins exposes the long suppressed crimes and brutalities that democratic Britain and British settlers willingly perpetrated upon hundreds of thousands of Africans — truths that will permit no one of good faith to continue to accept the mythologized account of Britain's colonial past as merely a 'civilizing mission.' If you want to read one book this year about the catastrophic consequences of racism, about the cruelty of those who dehumanize others, or about the crimes that ideologically besotted people — including from western democratic countries — can self-righteously commit, Imperial Reckoning is that book." Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust and recipient of Germany's Democracy Prize

Review:

"Given the number and nature of the atrocities that filled the 20th century, the degree of brutality and violence perpetrated by British settlers, police, army and their African loyalist supporters against the Kikuyu during the Mau Mau period should not be surprising. Nor, perhaps, the fact that the British government turned a blind eye, and later covered them up. What is surprising, however, is that it has taken so long to document the whole ghastly story — this is what makes Caroline Elkins's disturbing and horrifying account so important and memorable." Caroline Moorehead, author of Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees and Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life

Review:

"Imperial Reckoning is an incredible piece of historical sleuthing. The author has reconstructed the story that British officialdom almost succeeding in suppressing. Her sources are the Mau Mau fighters and sympathizers whom the British detained in concentration camps during the 1950s. Her interviews with the survivors of this British 'gulag' are a labor of love and courage — impressive in their frankness and deep emotional content as well as properly balanced between men and women, colonial officials and Mau Mau detainees. Caroline Elkins tells a story that would never have made it into the historical record had she not persevered and collected information from the last generation of Mau Mau detainees alive to bear witness to what happened." Robert Tignor, Rosengarten Professor of Modern and Contemporary History, Princeton University

Synopsis:

This unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya is a major work of history detailing the prisons, work camps, and terror that the British imposed on millions just after World War II. It has chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.

Synopsis:

A major work of history that for the first time reveals the violence and terror at the heart of Britain's civilizing mission in Kenya

As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler, the British colonial government detained nearly the entire population of Kenya's largest ethnic minority, the Kikuyu-some one and a half million people.

The compelling story of the system of prisons and work camps where thousands met their deaths has remained largely untold-the victim of a determined effort by the British to destroy all official records of their attempts to stop the Mau Mau uprising, the Kikuyu people's ultimately successful bid for Kenyan independence.

Caroline Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard University, spent a decade in London, Nairobi, and the Kenyan countryside interviewing hundreds of Kikuyu men and women who survived the British camps, as well as the British and African loyalists who detained them.

The result is an unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya-a pivotal moment in twentieth- century history with chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.

 
Imperial Reckoning is the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

Synopsis:

"An extraordinary act of historical recovery."--The New Yorker

As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler, the British colonial government detained nearly the entire population of Kenya's largest ethnic minority, the Kikuyu--some one and a half million people.

The compelling story of the system of prisons and work camps where thousands met their deaths was the victim of a determined effort by the British to destroy all official records of their attempts to stop the Mau Mau uprising. Caroline Elkins spent a decade in London, Nairobi, and the Kenyan countryside interviewing hundreds of survivors of the camps and the British and African loyalists who detained them.

The result is an unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya--a pivotal moment in twentieth- century history with chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.

"Elkins has bravely done justice to history." --The Nation

"A vivid portrait of daily life behind the wire." --The Economist

"An important and excruciating record. It will shock even those who think they have assumed the worst about Europe's era of control in Africa." --The New York Times Book Review

About the Author

Caroline Elkins is an assistant professor of history at Harvard University. Conversant in Swahili and some Kikuyu, she has spent nearly a decade traveling and working in rural Africa. She and her research were the subjects of a 2002 BBC documentary entitled Kenya:White Terror. This is her first book. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Table of Contents

1 Pax Britannica 1
2 Britain's assault on Mau Mau 31
3 Screening 62
4 Rehabilitation 91
5 The birth of Britain's gulag 121
6 The world behind the wire 154
7 The hard core 192
8 Domestic terror 233
9 Outrage, suppression, and silence 275
10 Detention exposed 311
App The operating pipeline circa January 1956 369

What Our Readers Are Saying

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Average customer rating based on 2 comments:

famecity, February 19, 2007 (view all comments by famecity)
This is an impeccably researched, accessible account of what is, sadly only one of many horrifying events in the history of colonialism. An invaluable texts for those interested in Mau Mau, Kenya, British colonialism, and the history of state repression.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(3 of 5 readers found this comment helpful)
MWARIRI, June 1, 2006 (view all comments by MWARIRI)
finaly you are coming up with history which have been hidden about our fore fathers who fought for our freedom.am a kenyan and all my respect goes to our ikon of struggle for freedom the late dedan kimathi waciuri.i haven't puchased this book but i cant wait to buy it and read more about our homeland torture from british.they still owe us the place they burried kimathi.am one pround mau mau generation and soon am releasing a song about dedan kimathi,general kahiu itina,general mathenge and general kago.thank you and GOD BLESS YOU.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(13 of 22 readers found this comment helpful)
View all 2 comments

Product Details

ISBN:
9780805076530
Subtitle:
The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya
Author:
Elkins, Caroline
Publisher:
Holt Paperbacks
Subject:
General
Subject:
Modern - 20th Century
Subject:
Europe - Great Britain - General
Subject:
Africa - East - Kenya
Subject:
Africa
Subject:
Europe - Great Britain
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
January 11, 2005
Binding:
Electronic book text in proprietary or open standard format
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Illustrations:
30 photos in text; 5 maps
Pages:
496
Dimensions:
9.23 x 6.21 x 0.89 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Africa » Kenya

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya Used Hardcover
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$10.95 In Stock
Product details 496 pages Henry Holt & Company - English 9780805076530 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In a major historical study, Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard, relates the gruesome, little-known story of the mass internment and murder of thousands of Kenyans at the hands of the British in the last years of imperial rule. Beginning with a trenchant account of British colonial enterprise in Kenya, Elkins charts white supremacy's impact on Kenya's largest ethnic group, the Kikuyu, and the radicalization of a Kikuyu faction sworn by tribal oath to extremism known as Mau Mau. Elkins recounts how in the late 1940s horrific Mau Mau murders of white settlers on their isolated farms led the British government to declare a state of emergency that lasted until 1960, legitimating a decade-long assault on the Kikuyu. First, the British blatantly rigged the trial of and imprisoned the moderate leader Jomo Kenyatta (later Kenya's first postindependence prime minister). Beginning in 1953, they deported or detained 1.4 million Kikuyu, who were systematically 'screened,' and in many cases tortured, to determine the extent of their Mau Mau sympathies. Having combed public archives in London and Kenya and conducted extensive interviews with both Kikuyu survivors and settlers, Elkins exposes the hypocrisy of Britain's supposed colonial 'civilizing mission' and its subsequent coverups. A profoundly chilling portrait of the inherent racism and violence of 'colonial logic,' Elkins's account was also the subject of a 2002 BBC documentary entitled Kenya: White Terror. Her superbly written and impassioned book deserves the widest possible readership. B&w photos, maps. Agent, Jill Kneerim." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "Sure to touch off scholarly debate and renew interest in recent, deliberately forgotten history."
"Review" by , "Filling a previously blank page in history, Elkins' pioneering study is a crucial recording of Kenyan history in particular, and that of African decolonization in general."
"Review" by , "[A] chilling account....[I]ntense scholarly research....This compelling account of the British colonial government's atrocities can be compared to Adam Hochschild's King Leopold's Ghost. Highly recommended."
"Review" by , "Caroline Elkins has written an important book that can change our understanding not just of Africa but of ourselves. Through exhaustive research in neglected colonial archives and intrepid reporting among long-forgotten Kikuyu elders in Kenya's Rift Valley, Elkins has documented not just the true scale of a huge and harrowing crime — Britain's ruthless suppression of the Mau Mau rebellion — but also the equally shocking concealment of that crime and the inversion of historical memory."
"Review" by , "On the basis of the most painstaking research, Caroline Elkins has starkly illuminated one of the darkest secrets of late British imperialism. She has shown how, even when they profess the most altruistic of intentions, empires can still be brutal in their response to dissent by subject peoples. We all need reminding of that today." Niall Ferguson, Professor of History, Harvard University, and Senior Research Fellow, Jesus College, Oxford; author of Colossus: The Price of America's Empire and Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power
"Review" by , "In the 1950s, Mau Mau provided the Western world with photographic evidence of what Africa and Africans 'were like': savage, bloodthirsty, and in need of British civilization. Imperial Reckoning shows us how these images neglected to show the brutality and savagery being committed against the Kenyan Kikuyu people detained by the British. Caroline Elkins fills out the images, tells the rest of the story, and corrects the record in this masterful book."
"Review" by , "Rarely does a book come along that transforms the world's understanding of a country and its past by bringing to light buried, horrifying truths and redrawing central contours of its image. With voluminous evidence, Caroline Elkins exposes the long suppressed crimes and brutalities that democratic Britain and British settlers willingly perpetrated upon hundreds of thousands of Africans — truths that will permit no one of good faith to continue to accept the mythologized account of Britain's colonial past as merely a 'civilizing mission.' If you want to read one book this year about the catastrophic consequences of racism, about the cruelty of those who dehumanize others, or about the crimes that ideologically besotted people — including from western democratic countries — can self-righteously commit, Imperial Reckoning is that book." Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, author of Hitler's Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust and recipient of Germany's Democracy Prize
"Review" by , "Given the number and nature of the atrocities that filled the 20th century, the degree of brutality and violence perpetrated by British settlers, police, army and their African loyalist supporters against the Kikuyu during the Mau Mau period should not be surprising. Nor, perhaps, the fact that the British government turned a blind eye, and later covered them up. What is surprising, however, is that it has taken so long to document the whole ghastly story — this is what makes Caroline Elkins's disturbing and horrifying account so important and memorable." Caroline Moorehead, author of Human Cargo: A Journey Among Refugees and Gellhorn: A Twentieth-Century Life
"Review" by , "Imperial Reckoning is an incredible piece of historical sleuthing. The author has reconstructed the story that British officialdom almost succeeding in suppressing. Her sources are the Mau Mau fighters and sympathizers whom the British detained in concentration camps during the 1950s. Her interviews with the survivors of this British 'gulag' are a labor of love and courage — impressive in their frankness and deep emotional content as well as properly balanced between men and women, colonial officials and Mau Mau detainees. Caroline Elkins tells a story that would never have made it into the historical record had she not persevered and collected information from the last generation of Mau Mau detainees alive to bear witness to what happened."
"Synopsis" by , This unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya is a major work of history detailing the prisons, work camps, and terror that the British imposed on millions just after World War II. It has chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.
"Synopsis" by ,
A major work of history that for the first time reveals the violence and terror at the heart of Britain's civilizing mission in Kenya

As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler, the British colonial government detained nearly the entire population of Kenya's largest ethnic minority, the Kikuyu-some one and a half million people.

The compelling story of the system of prisons and work camps where thousands met their deaths has remained largely untold-the victim of a determined effort by the British to destroy all official records of their attempts to stop the Mau Mau uprising, the Kikuyu people's ultimately successful bid for Kenyan independence.

Caroline Elkins, an assistant professor of history at Harvard University, spent a decade in London, Nairobi, and the Kenyan countryside interviewing hundreds of Kikuyu men and women who survived the British camps, as well as the British and African loyalists who detained them.

The result is an unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya-a pivotal moment in twentieth- century history with chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.

 
Imperial Reckoning is the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.

"Synopsis" by ,
"An extraordinary act of historical recovery."--The New Yorker

As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II. But just a few years after the defeat of Hitler, the British colonial government detained nearly the entire population of Kenya's largest ethnic minority, the Kikuyu--some one and a half million people.

The compelling story of the system of prisons and work camps where thousands met their deaths was the victim of a determined effort by the British to destroy all official records of their attempts to stop the Mau Mau uprising. Caroline Elkins spent a decade in London, Nairobi, and the Kenyan countryside interviewing hundreds of survivors of the camps and the British and African loyalists who detained them.

The result is an unforgettable account of the unraveling of the British colonial empire in Kenya--a pivotal moment in twentieth- century history with chilling parallels to America's own imperial project.

"Elkins has bravely done justice to history." --The Nation

"A vivid portrait of daily life behind the wire." --The Economist

"An important and excruciating record. It will shock even those who think they have assumed the worst about Europe's era of control in Africa." --The New York Times Book Review

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