Imperial Reckoning: Book summary and reviews of Imperial Reckoning by Caroline Elkins

Imperial Reckoning

The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

by Caroline Elkins

Imperial Reckoning

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Book Summary

Forty years after Kenyan independence from Britain, the words "Mau Mau" still conjure images of crazed savages hacking up hapless white settlers with machetes. 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.

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Book Awards

  • award image Pulitzer Prize for Letters, Drama and Music, 2006

Reviews

Media Reviews

"[This] superbly written and impassioned book deserves the widest possible readership." - PW

"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

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

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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