An accessible, engaging and essential introduction to the British empire for readers aged 9+, by bestselling author of Empireland, Sathnam Sanghera.
You’ve probably heard the word ’empire’ before. Perhaps because of the Roman empire. Or maybe even the Star Wars films.
But what about the British Empire? Why don’t we learn much about this? And what even is an empire, anyway?
This book will answer all the important questions about Britain’s imperial history. It will explore how Britain’s empire once made it the most powerful nation on earth, and how it still affects our lives in many ways today – from the words we use, to the food we eat, the sports we play and even to every grown-up’s fixation with a good cup of tea.
Because how can we ever make the world a kinder, better place for the future, if we don’t know the truth about the past?
“I’ve resisted suggestions that I write a kids’ book on empire on the grounds that I didn’t want to sanitise the history. But I think I’ve found a tone that allows me to be both honest and entertaining. I’m really excited that kids might soon have access to knowledge about the British Empire that I only stumbled across at the age of 45. Becoming at ease with this history is essential to Britain becoming a saner country.”
“An important read for everyone. Brilliantly written”. David Walliams
“It has lively pictures and a chatty and personal approach…It acknowledges the strength of feeling the subject generally arouses, offers ways to navigate through the debates and is on the side of a kinder future.” – Sunday Times Children’s Book of the Week
“Stimulating, straightforward and elegantly provocative history book.” – The Guardian
“Understanding our history is crucial to making sense of the world around us, and this warm and informative book sets out an engaging and accessible account of how our past has shaped our present – from the language we use, to the food we eat. A must-read for every young person – and their parents, too.” – Sadiq Khan, writing in the Guardian
“Stolen History is a starting point for important conversations about right and wrong, ethics, different interpretations of history and how, or if, countries that once ruled others should make amends.” – BookTrust
“Easy-to-read and packed with information, this brilliant, important book will give you lots to think about.” – The Week Junior
“Something that really comes across in the book is Sanghera’s faith in young people…to form their own judgements about the British Empire.” – The Bookseller
“We’re not given prescriptive solutions: your child is not going to be in the back of a police van after having defaced a statue – well, certainly not as a result of reading this book. The watchword is ‘politeness’. There are excellent suggestions made as to how discussions can be opened, say in museums and stately homes – or even in the classroom…Excellent” – The Bookbag
“Illuminating” – Nigella Lawson
“Sanghera manages to tell the history of colonialism in South Asia to young readers in a fun and accessible way, while never flinching from the brutal facts, and gives us modern analogies that help us make sense of the massive scale of the colonial project in South Asia. Unmissable for non-fiction and historical fiction fans alike.” – Nazneen Ahmed Pathak
“Sanghera, the critically acclaimed author of Empireland brings the same subject to children aged nine plus with this timely book about the British Empire and how it has shaped the world we live in. Smart and insightful, this expertly structured book is full of fascinating and often troubling facts from British history, such as how Charles II helped found the Royal African Company and the racist history of fingerprinting. It is hard to believe Sanghera has not written a children’s book before given how he writes about the subject in a way that is both engaging and informative for children, and what is truly cheering is the confidence he has in young people to make up their own minds. Yes Sanghera says a belief in one’s own exceptionalism is dangerous and he thinks there should be a statue of Charles Ignatius Sancho in this country, but at other times he reminds his readers that they should decide for themselves when judging our historical past. I particularly liked this quote: “You can form your own opinions about any books-whether they are written by Rudyard Kipling or anyone else (including this one).” There are also tips hen to ask questions and the debates pupils could have in schools.”
“An accessible introduction to the British Empire for kids… In a clear, calm fashion aided by jaunty illustrations Sanghera answers the important questions (such as: is the stuff in our museums nicked?) and explains the true origins of HP sauce.”
“Sanghera brilliantly demonstrates that history doesn’t have to be dumbed down to be made accessible, nor does it need to be sensationalized to seem relevant. Written with integrity and a deep commitment to reveal how the past has shaped our present, the book will make young readers engage with history as more than just entertainment and it will encourage them to ask new questions.”
Kim A. Wagner, Professor of Global and Imperial History, School of History Queen Mary, University of London
“Stolen History is a truly remarkable achievement: an historically accurate, diligently researched and nuanced account of the British Empire that is also gripping for younger readers. I know of no other writer who could have accomplished such a feat.”
Professor Alan Lester FRHistS, Professor of Historical Geography and Professor of History, La Trobe University
“Accessible whilst imparting broad knowledge, appealingly pitched but deeply serious, this historically rigorous book is a must-read for any child who wants to know the basic facts of empire but also to gain an accurate sense of the wide variety of colonial activities which happened during four centuries of British colonial rule. Stolen History will inform a whole generation. Parents should read it too!”
Corinne Fowler, Professor of Colonialism and Heritage, University of Leicester
“Stolen History is the perfect book for every school. All our young people need to know the truth about the British Empire. This book is accessible, expertly written and hugely important.”
Jasbinder Bilan, award winning author of Asha and the Spirit Bird
“Great Read for our kids – all our kids!”
Gurinder Chadha, screenwriter and director of Bend It Like Beckham
“Conversational… with humour that feels ideally pitched to the older children it is aimed at.”
The Financial Times