Empireland
Sathnam Sanghera

Book cover image

Narrated By: Homer Todiwala

Duration: 10 hours and 17 minutes

What to expect

Brought to you by Penguin.

'This remarkable book shines the brightest of lights into some of the darkest and most misunderstood corners of our shared history' James O'Brien

In his brilliantly illuminating new book Sathnam Sanghera demonstrates how so much of what we consider to be modern Britain is actually rooted in our imperial past. In prose that is, at once, both clear-eyed and full of acerbic wit, Sanghera shows how our past is everywhere: from how we live to how we think, from the foundation of the NHS to the nature of our racism, from our distrust of intellectuals in public life to the exceptionalism that imbued the campaign for Brexit and the government's early response to the Covid crisis. And yet empire is a subject, weirdly hidden from view.

The British Empire ran for centuries and covered vast swathes of the world. It is, as Sanghera reveals, fundamental to understanding Britain. However, even among those who celebrate the empire there seems to be a desire not to look at it too closely - not to include the subject in our school history books, not to emphasize it too much in our favourite museums.

At a time of great division, when we are arguing about what it means to be British, Sanghera's book urges us to address this bewildering contradiction. For, it is only by stepping back and seeing where we really come from, that we can begin to understand who we are, and what unites us.

'Lucid but never simplistic; entertaining but never frivolous; intensely readable while always mindful of nuance and complexity - Empireland takes a perfectly-judged approach to its contentious but necessary subject' Jonathan Coe

***Praise for The Boy with the Topknot***

'I absolutely loved it. Heartbreaking and wonderful. He writes beautifully' Maggie O'Farrell

'Could not be more enjoyable, engaging or moving' Observer

'Tragic, funny and disturbing. It will challenge you, and may even change you' Independent

© Sathnam Sanghera 2021 (P) Penguin Audio 2021

Genre

Colonialism and imperialism

Listen to a sample

In this witty and multi-faceted portrait of our nation, the award-winning journalist and novelist looks with great acuity at how the Empire wrought contemporary Britain

Bookseller

This thoroughly engaging and incredibly important book must be read by everyone. The sometimes heartbreaking read is enlightening and transformative. This remarkable work should be included in school curriculum... The informative book will undoubtedly continue to improve the understanding of future generations and perhaps even shape them

Eastern Eye

A scorching polemic on the afterburn of empire

Financial Times

A gracefully written book, but its real beauty lies in its complete absence of dogmatism ... Empireland is not an angry diatribe. It's a sensitive, often uncomfortable commentary on the stubborn influence of empire ... The real remedy is education of the kind that Sanghera has embraced - accepting, not ignoring, the past

The Times

In the wake of personal epiphany we glimpse with Sanghera pathways of transformative potential ... a simple but profound response - this searching introspection and a quest for new horizons, combined with a readiness to sit with the contradictions of it all

The Observer

This remarkable book shines the brightest of lights into some of the darkest and most misunderstood corners of our shared history

James O'Brien

I only wish this book had been around when I was at school

Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London

Very well written ... decent, balanced and wise. His decency and talent remind us of how much we owe to all those immigrants from our empire who came to make their lives here

The Tablet

[Empireland] should be on the compulsory reading list of every secondary school in the country

John Simpson

Lucid but never simplistic; entertaining but never frivolous; intensely readable while always mindful of nuance and complexity - Empireland takes a perfectly-judged approach to its contentious but necessary subject

Jonathan Coe

This remarkable book shines the brightest of lights into some of the darkest and most misunderstood corners of our shared history. As urgent as it is illuminating, Sanghera drives a coach and horses through the ludicrous but increasingly popular notion that wanting a proper public understanding of all aspects of British and Imperial history is somehow unpatriotic or 'anti-British'. A quite beautiful writer, with a deep personal investment in the subject matter, his meticulous research and passionate advocacy combine to create an irresistible case for reviewing much of what we think we know about the reality and legacy of the British Empire

James O'Brien

[An] impassioned and deeply personal journey through Britain's imperial past and present ... a moving and stimulating book that deserves to be widely read

The Guardian

This account of how much of our "island story" was written in other countries deserves to be widely read. His decency and talent remind us of how much we owe to all those immigrants from our empire who came to make their lives here and too often (but happily not always) had to face hostility with a racist hue. The racism was frequently sired by our imperial past

The Tablet

Excellent ... he is a good guide to the complexities of the issues ... And he is largely positive about Britain and its future