Elkins C. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. Henry Holt/Jonathan Cape; Caroline Elkins. Professor of History. Elkins, Caroline M. Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. Henry Holt and Company. IMPERIAL RECKONING The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya. By Caroline Elkins. Illustrated. pp. Henry Holt & Company. $

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British power at its worst. The Hola Massacre of eleven detainees became the focal point of the deceit and the tipping point for the decision to withdraw colonial rule.

The draconian response of Britain’s colonial government was to detain nearly the entire Kikuyu population of one-and-a half-million – to hold them in camps or confine them in villages ringed with barbed wire – and to portray them as sub-human savages. Having combed public archives in London and Kenya and conducted extensive interviews with both Kikuyu survivors and settlers, Elkins exposes the hypocrisy of Britain’s supposed colonial “civilizing mission” and its subsequent coverups.

With so much evidence of atrocity, Elkins often forgoes complexity and careful analysis. The Mau Mau uprising had long fascinated scholars. For the last eight years Caroline Elkins has conducted exhaustive research to piece together the story, unearthing reams of documents and interviewing several hundred Kikuyu survivors. It was also an unconventional first book for a junior scholar. Sadly, the final blow to the Kikuyu came from the man they thought would be their savior.

But the book polarised scholars.

This is a stunning narrative that finally sheds light on a misunderstood war for which no one has yet been held officially accountable. Those who refuse suffer more torture and are sent to the death or concentration camps.

Britain had just helped defeat Germany in WWII and liberate concentration and death camps filled with people. Now called Kenyans, they were driven off their land, fought back against the British and were crushed. Since her book was published inarchives of secret documents have been released, which suport her claims.


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

While the Mau Mau movement certainly acted in brutal ways at times, it’s hard to know what really came first Its adherents mounted gruesome attacks on white settlers and fellow Kikuyu who collaborated with the British administration.

Elkins interviewed three hundred ex-detainees, collecting living evidence of the horrendous events that Africans, mainly Kikuyu, underwent during the Emergency. In preparation, Elkins had distilled her book into a page witness statement. One, Paulo Nzili, said he had been castrated with pliers at a detention camp.

Learn more about Amazon Giveaway. Philip Murphy, who specialises in the history of British decolonisation, attended some of the Mau Mau hearings. Here are some interesting links to more essays on this author and this subject: And, as Elkins would eventually learn, Gavaghan had developed the technique and put it into practice.

Uncovering the brutal truth about the British empire

With insufficient land in the reserves, Africans had little choice but to seek work on European farms. No trivia or quizzes yet. Chiefs were co-opted with special privileges and land. Refresh and try again. Elkins, questioning him in London, found him creepy and defensive. Now, for the first time, we can understand the full savagery of the Mau Mau war and the ruthless determination with which Britain sought to control its empire. An initial sifting of the official records conveyed a sense that these had been sites of rehabilitation, not punishment, with civics and home-craft classes meant to instruct the detainees to be good citizens.

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Aug 05, John rated it it was amazing. A brief, comprehensive study of Kenya Kindle Edition. This is an important documentation because the survivors are now very elderly.


She classifies fellow scholars as friends or enemies. The irony that Britain’s Colonial office was willing to stoop to genital mutilation, beatings to the death and indefinite prison camps in order to protect their right to carolinee and civilize their colony does not slip by unnoticed.

Amazon Second Chance Pass it on, trade it in, give it a second life. The Times splashed the news across its front page: My grandparents lost their property during the removal from their homes into concentration camps. Sep 23, Andrea rated it really liked it Recommends it for: I intend to use my meager resources to find them, expose them and hope that one day they face justice.

I just wish they had been recounted in a more professional manner.

Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain’s Gulag in Kenya by Caroline Elkins

It doesn’t even seem like the British people in charge thought very much about the connection. At many points I had to put the book down because it was just too much.

There is no statute of limitations for murder and I hope that in the near future we will be able to track down any settler still living in Kenya who is guilty of murder and torture of Africans and make them pay for their past sins. Histories of the Hanged: Once in work camps, holding camps or something akin to nazi death camps, Kikuyu are pressured to confess that they are part of the Mau Mau movement through torture.

The resulting story is graphic but it has to be.