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Imperial island


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.

‘An eye-opening study of the empire within’ SHASHI THAROOR
‘Clear, bold, refreshing’ LUCY WORSLEY

After the Second World War, Britain’s overseas empire disintegrated. But the effects of empire lived on, shaping its population and politics and dominating its relationship with the world ever since. Drawing on a mass of new research, from personal letters to pop culture, Imperial Island tells this dramatic story of imperial demise and its potent legacy, from the Suez Crisis to the Falklands War, from the invasion of Iraq to Brexit. It is a story of immigration and social unrest, multiculturalism and extremism, and a nation continuously wrestling with its past.

‘Incisive, important and incredibly timely . . . for anyone wanting to understand how Britain became the nation it is today ‘ CAROLINE ELKINS

‘Marvellous . . . A thought-provoking delight that absolutely everyone should read’ STEPHEN BUSH

‘Absorbing . . . dexterously handled and carefully sourced’ Financial Times

‘Masterful, ingeniously written. You won’t look at Britain in the same way ever again’ OWEN JONES

Read a sample here

Additional information

Weight 0.267 kg
Dimensions 19.8 × 12.9 × 2.9 cm










306.0941 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K