Stolen History: The Truth about the British Empire and How It Shaped Us

by | Oct 12, 2023 | Book Review, Illustrated book, Non-Fiction

Stolen History (cover)

Book Details

Stolen History: The Truth about the British Empire and How It Shaped Us
Sathnam Sanghera, illus. Jen Khatun. London: Puffin, pb. 978 0 2416 2343 5, 2023, £8.99, 198pp.
Non-fiction, illustrated book, 9+ years

Sathnam has found a perfect style to convey his views on this very complex subject.

This is a very personalised history, conversational in tone, but historically rigorous and full of serious information and yet immensely readable. He sets out facts and figures about the size and scope of the British Empire and brings this to life with anecdotes and asides and humour. He introduces stories throughout with  information about word origins, languages and etymology, commodities and food, places and people. These are fascinating and sometimes troubled facts.

This is the backdrop against which Sathnam raises the complex issues of empire, for example racism, multiculturalism and ‘selective amnesia’ about the true implications of what happens. He makes it clear that barbaric things happened in the pursuit of power, glory and money, not the least being slavery and brutality. But equally, that good things happened and there is a need to think in an analytical not  binary way. He argues for more teaching of the subject in schools and more awareness amongst young people who he encourages to challenge and ask questions.

Lovely line drawn illustrations are used throughout the book to show and explain.

This is an immersive and powerful reading and a must for all libraries.


Review by Pam Dix