Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

by Caroline Elkins

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Overview

A major work of history that for the first time reveals the violence and terror at the heart of Britain's civilizing mission in Kenya

As part of the Allied forces, thousands of Kenyans fought alongside the British in World War II. But just 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 to stop the 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.

Imperial Reckoning is the winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction.



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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780805080018
Publisher: Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 12/27/2005
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 496
Sales rank: 211,475
Product dimensions: 9.12(w) x 7.14(h) x 0.84(d)

About the Author

Caroline Elkins is an assistant professor of history at Harvard University. Conversant in Swahili and some Kikuyu, she has spent nearly a decade traveling and working in rural Africa. She and her research were the subjects of a 2002 BBC documentary entitled Kenya:White Terror. Imperial Reckoning is her first book. She lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Read an Excerpt

"The colonial propaganda machine, once well-oiled, preyed on the detainees' doubts and fears. Pamphlets in the vernacular, pointing out how misguided was the detainees' belief that African land had been stolen by the British, were circulated throughout the compound. At the same time, loudspeakers blared warnings about ongoing land confiscations, describing how land taken from Mau Mau sympathizers was being redistributed to those loyal to the British cause. "Confess and Save Your Land," was one public broadcast played throughout the Pipeline, and it is bitterly remembered by many of the former detainees today. So too are photographs of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in full regalia, which were displayed alongside images of Jomo Kenyatta in shackles, wild-haired and looking rather dazed and pathetic. The contrast between civilization and savagery could not have been more stark."

Table of Contents

Contents

ILLUSTRATION CREDITS,
PREFACE,
ONE: Pax Britannica,
TWO: Britain's Assault on Mau Mau,
THREE: Screening,
FOUR: Rehabilitation,
FIVE: The Birth of Britain's Gulag,
SIX: The World Behind the Wire,
SEVEN: The Hard Core,
EIGHT: Domestic Terror,
NINE: Outrage, Suppression, and Silence,
TEN: Detention Exposed,
EPILOGUE,
APPENDIX: THE OPERATING PIPELINE CIRCA JANUARY 1956,
BIBLIOGRAPHY,
ACKNOWLEDGMENTS,
NOTE ON METHODS,
NOTES,
INDEX,

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