Imperial island

£25.00

After World War II, Britain’s overseas empire disintegrated. But over the next seventy years, empire came to define Britain as never before. From immigration and race riots, to the Suez Crisis and the Falklands War, from the simplistic moral equation of Band Aid to the invasion of Iraq, the imperial mindset has dominated Britain’s relationship with itself and the world. The ghosts of empire are there, too, in the tragedy of Stephen Lawrence and in the response to radical Islam, in the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics and in scandal of the Windrush deportations – and of course in Brexit. Drawing on a mass of original research into the thoughts and feelings of the British people, pop culture, sport and media, this book tells a story of people on the move and of people trapped in the past, of the end of empire and the birth of multiculturalism, a chronicle of violence and a testament to togetherness.

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Imperial Island shows how empire and its ever-present aftermath have divided and defined Britain over the last seventy years.

‘Masterful … you won’t look at Britain in the same way ever again’ OWEN JONES
‘Incisive, important, and incredibly timely’ CAROLINE ELKINS

After the Second World War, Britain’s overseas empire disintegrated. As white settlers from Rhodesia returned home to a country they barely recognised, Commonwealth citizens from Asia and the Caribbean migrated to a motherland that often refused to recognise them. Race riots erupted in Liverpool and Notting Hill even as communities lived and loved across the colour line. In the 1950s and 60s, imperial violence came home too, pervading the policing of immigrant communities, including their sex lives. In the decade that followed, a surge of support for the far-right inspired an invigorated anti-racist movement.

These tensions, and the imperial mindset that birthed them, have dominated Britain’s relationship with itself and the world ever since: from the jingoism of the Falklands War to the simplistic moral equation of Band Aid, from the rise of the gap year abroad to the invasion of Iraq. Most recently, in the tragedy of Stephen Lawrence and the opening ceremony of the 2012 Olympics, we see how Britain’s contradictory relationship with its past has undermined its self-image as a multicultural nation, helping explain the Windrush deportations and Brexit.

Drawing on a mass of new research, from personal letters to pop culture, Imperial Island tells a story of immigration and fractured identity, of social strife and communal solidarity, of people on the move and of a people wrestling with their past. It is the story that best explains Britain today.

‘A thought-provoking delight that absolutely everyone should read’ STEPHEN BUSH
‘An eye-opening study of the empire within‘ SHASHI THAROOR
‘Clear, bold, refreshing’ LUCY WORSLEY
‘Immaculately detailed and impeccably researched’ HELEN CARR

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Weight 0.599 kg
Dimensions 24.2 × 16.2 × 3.5 cm
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