Empireland examined imperialism’s lasting impact on Britain.
Empireworld traces the legacies of British empire across the globe.
2.6 billion people are inhabitants of former British colonies. The empire’s influence upon the quarter of the planet it occupied, and its gravitational influence upon the world outside it, has been profound: from the spread of Christianity by missionaries to nearly 1 in 3 driving on the left side of the road, and even shaping the origins of international law. Yet Britain’s idea of its imperial history and the world’s experience of it are two very different things.
In Empireworld, award-winning author and journalist, Sathnam Sanghera extends his examination of British imperial legacies beyond Britain. Travelling the globe to trace its international legacies – from Barbados and Mauritius to India and Nigeria and beyond – Sanghera demonstrates just how deeply British imperialism is baked into our world.
And why it’s time Britain was finally honest with itself about empire.
“Deeply poignant… staggering and distressing… riveting… brave, painful, urgent and timely… [This] book, is not… about ‘goodies’ or ‘baddies’. It is about telling the truth about a nation’s imperial past in all its ambiguity — and creating dialogue between everyone who lays claim to Britishness.”
Jerry Brotton, The Financial Times.
“Refined, subtle, accurate, analytical, witty, engaging, and questioning… The chapter on empire and the British legal system contains shocking revelations of cruelty and injustice, but as ever with this remarkable writer, also cautious, careful analysis…. I lived in the old British Empire; have written books on the subject, thought I knew it all. I now see how undereducated I am about some of this history. For instance, Sanghera’s consideration of imperialism through the lens of plants is illuminating and unexpected… The book is full of… linguistic lightness and agility… Sanghera eschews simple judgements… this book puts Sanghera in the firmament of great imperial historians. Furthermore, his lucid and accessible writing reaches out to those with closed minds. For that he deserves all the accolades he is sure to get.”
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown, The i
“A remarkable and important work – one that is finely judged, beautifully written and not just a welcome corrective but a book for our times. This is essential reading.”
Peter Frankopan, Professor of Global History, author of The Silk Roads.
“An absolute masterpiece”
James O’Brien, LBC
“A powerful sequel”
The Irish Independent
“To read Sathnam Sanghera is to understand the world anew. Vanishingly few writers can lay claim to his breadth of talent. Not only does Empireworld engage in deep research and historical re-analysis, it is also a profoundly moving work of personal insight, nuance, intelligence and compassion, elevated on every page by the sheer quality of his writing. Empireworld is a crucial addition to our understanding of the contradictions and legacies of colonial rule but it is also a book that helps us become better humans. I am in awe of Sanghera for writing it.”
“Empireworld seeks neither to bury the British Empire, nor to praise it. Mr Sanghera is not soliciting guilt or shame… His plea is simpler: he wishes for Britons to be better informed about their own history and the impact that their country has had on the world. He asks not for balance, but for illumination… Empireworld offers its analysis in an easy, witty style. Mr Sanghera’s detractors may lambast the book, but more open-minded readers will find it an insightful pleasure.”
‘”How to follow a book as brilliant and consequential as Empireland?… the Times journalist delivers a magnificent account of the British empire’s impact upon the world. His travels take him to Lagos, Mauritius, Barbados, Kew Gardens and elsewhere. The research is meticulous, the personal touch well-judged and the detail riveting. Foreswearing the conventional ‘balance sheet’ approach to imperial history, Sanghera seeks out nuance, contradiction and unexpected influence. ‘It’s simply in our interests,’ he writes, ‘to show up knowing what we were responsible for the last time we turned up’. An indispensable guide to the future of post-Brexit Britain.”
Matthew d’Ancona, The New European
“This is a groundbreaking and eye-opening book, that everyone should read. Written with wit, nuance and academic rigour; it is a long overdue look at Empire and its effect on the world.”
“A nuanced, complicated account of the British empire’s impact on the world as we know it… that is strikingly, remarkably alive to the contradictions inherent in its telling…. [It] spells out the complexity of historical assessment with painstaking clarity, showing, repeatedly, the deep entwinement of the positive and negative contributions of empire… It is a credit to Empireworld that it does not turn away from… uncomfortable truth.”
Nandini Das, The Guardian
“The best popular account of the British Empire yet.”
Professor Alan Lester
“This is history with a personal touch… today’s history students will have much to ponder….. there are plenty of new ideas, argued with passion. If Britain wants to move forward as a key player on the world stage, Sanghera demonstrates, we must take time to understand our past — all warts, and all wonders, considered.”
Alice Loxton, The Sunday Times
“A properly revelatory, brilliant book by the very, very best.“
“In this ambitious sequel to Empireland, the journalist travels far and wide to examine the legacy of British imperialism, piecing together an important rebuttal of revisionist narratives… Sanghera… writes with the sensitivity and earnestness of someone with skin in the game… the book is assiduously researched and Sanghera is brave…”
Colin Grant, The Observer
“Supremely readable… Sanghera is… a powerful voice in the public realm on colonialism and contested heritage. What he brings is an inviting style, together with a conscientious journalistic ability to précis impressive amounts of historical material. He is ruthless about crediting sources and ceaselessly generous towards the many historians on whose work he draws.. there is also a strong chapter on Mauritius and, more broadly, the place of indentured labour within the post-abolitionist imperial economy, which will come as a revelation to many readers…. Sathnam Sanghera is… a Macaulay for Gen Z, and he is fulfilling the role with sophistication, determination and feeling.”
Tristram Hunt, Director of the Victoria and Albert Museum, in the TLS
“A conversation-changing look at the British Empire’s worldwide legacy… he’s done his reading. Sanghera is part of a wave of writers and historians changing the terms of debate. This book, with its varied voices and perspectives, widens them further.”
Robbie Smith, The Evening Standard
“Offers rich and thoughtful engagements with bodies of scholarly work grafted on to travelogues based on his reporting trips to Nigeria, Mauritius, Barbados, New Delhi and beyond … His choice of topics in Empireworld illustrates his message of complexity… This is history a historian can recognise: a field that demands close study and resists easy generalisation or pat judgments…. Sanghera’s book admirably marches us into the weeds of peer-reviewed scholarly work.”
Quinn Slobodian, The New Statesman
“Once again, Sathnam Sanghera has advanced the civil conversation we all need to have about Empire and its legacies.”
“One of my favourite writers and Empireworld is a must read if you want to understand the world.”
Greg James, BBC Radio
“If you thought Empireland was beautifully written – this follow up takes you even further – on an extraordinary, entertaining and eye-opening journey around the globe.“
Sadiq Khan, Mayor of London
“Sathnam Sanghera’s landmark book ‘Empireland’ is now followed by ‘Empireworld: How British Imperialism has Shaped the Globe‘… another rich study on what the consequences of imperialism were on the rest of the world, which continues to pay a price until today.”
Oman Daily Observer
“Empireworld is an ambitious and valuable conversation starter for a long overdue reckoning with Britain’s colonial past.”
“Another smart, compassionate and essential book about the legacy of Empire and our braided histories.”
“Nuanced, witty, grounded in evidence, and sensitively connects past to present.“
Mark Nesbitt, Head, Interdisciplinary Research at Kew Science
“With Empireland, Sathnam Sanghera wrote the British history book that should be on every school reading list, laying bare how imperialism formed modern Britain. In Empireworld he takes it further, looking at the legacy of the British empire around the globe.“
The Belfast Telegraph
“So fascinating and so accessibly written while being meticulously researched (quite the bibliography for anyone wanting further reading!). I loved Empireland and this might be even better.“
“His writing on empire and colonialism will change how you understand modern Britain.”
“The author writes well with humour and style and he has a journalist’s eye for detail and colour. He has researched well… Sanghera is a nuanced writer… In the public conversation about Britain’s imperial past, many voices across the world need to be heard. Sanghera’s arguments are loud and clear and this book is an important contribution to that debate.“
Stephen Walker, The Irish Times
“More than just an absorbing fact-filled history of colonialism and its many repercussions in the modern world… Sanghera looks at imperialism throughout the globe, showing that empire is something we need to acknowledge and understand to have a real future. 8/10.“
The Irish News