Britain's Gulag

Britain's Gulag

The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya

Summary

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Only a few years after Britain defeated fascism came the Mau Mau uprising in Kenya - a mass armed rebellion by the Kikuyu people, demanding the return of their land and freedom. The draconian response of Britain's colonial government was to detain nearly the entire Kikuyu population of 1.5 million and to portray them as sub-human savages. Detainees in their thousands - possibly a hundred thousand or more - died from exhaustion, disease, starvation and systemic physical brutality. For decades these events remained untold.

Caroline Elkins conducted years of research to piece together this story, unearthing reams of documents and interviewing several hundred Kikuyu survivors. Britain's Gulag reveals, for the first time, the full savagery of the Mau Mau war and the ruthless determination with which Britain sought to control its empire.

© Caroline Elkins 2005 (P) Penguin Audio 2024

Reviews

  • A tale of systematic violence and high-level cover-ups
    Guardian

About the author

Caroline Elkins

Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and of African and African American studies at Harvard University and the founding director of Harvard's Centre for African Studies. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Fulbright and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship.

Her first book, Britain's Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Her research for that book was the subject of the award-winning BBC documentary Kenya: White Terror. She also served as an expert in the historic Mau Mau reparations case, brought against the British Government by survivors of violence in Kenya.

She is a contributor to the New York Times Book Review, Guardian, Atlantic, Washington Post and New Republic. She lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.
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