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Elkins C. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. Henry Holt/Jonathan Cape; Caroline Elkins. Professor of History. Elkins, Caroline M. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. Henry Holt and Company. IMPERIAL RECKONING The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. By Caroline Elkins. Illustrated. pp. Henry Holt & Company. $

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A major work im;erial history that for the carolien time reveals the violence and recioning at the heart of Britain’s civilizing mission in Rexkoning. But caroine 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 elkns stop impdrial 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. Enter your mobile number or email address below and we’ll send you a link to download the free Kindle App.

Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer – no Kindle device required. To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number. She concludes that the war, one of the bloodiest and most protracted decolonization struggles of the past century, was anything but the “civilizing mission” portrayed by British propagandists and settlers. Instead, Britain engaged carloine an amazingly brutal campaign of ethnic cleansing that seemed to border on outright genocide.

While only 32 white settlers were killed by Mau Mau insurgents, Elkins reports that tens of thousands of Kenyans were slaughtered, perhaps up toThe British also interned the entire 1. British officials later destroyed almost all official records of the campaign. Elkins infuses her account with the riveting stories of individual Kikuyu detainees, settlers, British officials, and soldiers. This is a stunning narrative that finally sheds light on a misunderstood war for which no one has yet been held officially accountable.

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 s horrific Mau Mau murders of white settlers on their isolated farms led the British government to declare a state of emergency that lasted untillegitimating a decade-long assault on the Carolkne.

First, the British blatantly rigged the trial of and imprisoned the moderate leader Jomo Kenyatta later Kenya’s first postindependence prime minister.

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Beginning inthey deported or detained 1. Having combed public archives in London and Kenya and conducted extensive interviews with both Kikuyu survivors and reckonibg, 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 BBC documentary entitled Kenya: Her superbly written and impassioned book deserves the widest possible readership. Henry Holt and Co. April 1, Sold by: Not Enabled Word Wise: Not Enabled Elkuns Reader: Enabled Amazon Best Sellers Rank: A major work of history that for the first time reveals the violence and terror at the heart of Britain’s civilizing mission in Eelkins As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II.

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

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Histories of the Hanged: A brief, comprehensive study of Kenya. A Continental History, The British Colonial Office, struggling to preserve its far-flung empire of dependencies after World War II, spread hysteria about Kenya’s Mau Mau independence movement by depicting its supporters among the Kikuyu people as irrational terrorists and monsters. Caroline Elkins, a historian at Harvard University, has done a masterful job setting the record straight in her epic investigation, Imperial Reckoning.

After years of research in London and Kenya, including interviews with hundreds of Kenyans, settlers, and former British officials, Elkins has written the first book about the eight-year British war against the Mau Mau. 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.

See all Editorial Reviews. Product details File Size: Would you like to tell us about a lower price? Share your thoughts with other customers. Write a customer review. Read reviews that mention mau mau jomo kenyatta british empire south africa caroline elkins imperial reckoning well researched hundreds of thousands colonial rule british government professor elkins britain gulag ethnic cleansing something of value men and women mass murder concentration camps mau mau uprising white settlers well written.

Showing of 62 reviews. Top Reviews Most recent Top Reviews. There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later. Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. This was one of the hardest book that I ever read, even though it was well written and interesting.

Uncovering the brutal truth about the British empire | Marc Parry | News | The Guardian

The book provided me with very valuable information about the history of Kenya. The history was very disturbing to read. After all this happened after the Nazi genocide of the Jews of Europe and was committed by the British government with the knowledge and collusion of the leaders of the Conservative party.

The stories of murder, rape, and torture, and forced evacuation of their homes and villages, were confirmed when I listened to the stories of about a dozen elders [men and women ages 80 to ] while I was in Kenya.

I do have one complaint about the book. Professor Elkins only uses the elkinns “genocide” elkisn to describe the British actions in Kenya. I wrote to her asking why, but did not carooine an answer. From my perspective what Elkins describes fits the definition of genocide from the U. Read the book and you can decide.

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins

One person found this helpful. I grew up in Kenya in Kikuyu and I always heard stories from my grandmother and great grandmother how horrible the British were, but I was young and had no idea how bad it was for our grandparents who survived the colonial period.

I wept for my grandparents when I read this book, its unimaginable how cruel and sadistic the British colonial masters were. What’s even more sad is that some of the same cruel colonialists still live in Kenya today since not all the settlers moved away after independence.


The majority of settlers moved to Rhodesia and South Africa after independence but a large number of them remained and still occupy vast tracts of prime land in a free, independent and democratic Kenya to this date. There is no statute of limitations for murder and I hope that in the near future we will be able to track down any settler still living in Kenya who is guilty of murder and torture of Africans and make them pay for their past sins.

I for one don’t think they should be living a life of luxury in Kenya when they have the blood of so many on their hands. I intend to use my meager resources to find them, expose them and hope that one day they face justice. The book, while highlighting a tragic chapter in the history of the Kenyan people as well as the horrific consequences of a paternalistic British colonialism, feels long. This book presents fact after fact connected to the brutal colonial policy of the British in Kenya.

I can’t think of one example of “benevolent colonialism” and how the British ruled in Kenya will make you sick. How the British could on one hand demonize the Nazi camps in WW2 yet turn around and brutally treat the Kenyan people is mind boggling. While the Mau Mau movement certainly acted in brutal ways at times, it’s hard to know what really came first Mau Mau brutality or British brutality.

That said, the book feels a bit long.

Uncovering the brutal truth about the British empire

Imagine trying to hold your breath underwater for a long period of time. At some point you have to come up to breathe. When fact after fact of brutality is recollected it seems like it has no end.

At many points I had to put the book down because it was just too much. The research done seems top notch but the point was made by chapter 3 or 4. I read this elkkins in preparation for a trip to Kenya this summer. It does give me some modern day historical background that will help in relating to the Kenyan people.

This is an amazing book, that should be a recommended reading in every high school. The story of the mau-mau was something I did not know a lot about, and this book was an eye-opener. Caroline Elkins has done a great cadoline in thoroughly researching what many wanted buried forever, and bringing out all the sadism and savagery in vivid detail.

One of the best books I have read, ever. This was an excellent book. It goes to show that what we were fed in the news media at the time was mostly rubbish.

That none of these people were held to account is terrible. The British went there, kicked the local people off their land and took it over. The cruelty inflicted on the locals is appalling. I know British people who were there at the time. I will certainly look at them with a different attitude. And then there were the religious missionaries who said nothing. What would you expect.

Let me just say that this is a depressing and compelling book. Not a decade after the end of WWII Britain instituted its own system of brutal prison camps in Kenya that violated every human rights accord Britain had signed in the wake of one of the greatest atrocities in history. The purpose of this was to suppress a rebellion of the anti-colonial Mau Mau in Kenya.