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What the British Empire did to us

Only by confronting our imperial past can society move on

A statue of Robert —Clive of India—in Shrewbury Square, Shropshire, his home county Credit: Alamy

A statue of Robert —Clive of India—in Shrewbury Square, Shropshire, his home county Credit: Alamy

In his new book Empireland, the Times journalist and memoirist Sathnam Sanghera has made a serious attempt to examine the impact of the British Empire on modern-day Britain. Sanghera argues passionately that our identity has been shaped—mainly for the worse—by the Empire and that it is only by confronting this fact that we can move forward as a society. He quotes the economic anthropologist Jason Hickel: “If British people understood colonial history half as well as they understand the details of Henry VIII’s wives, Britain would be a different country.”

Sanghera has a journalist’s instinct for an eye-catching…

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