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This fascinating book is inspired by the presence in the British Museum of the Benin Bronzes - looted in the very late 1800s by British colonisers in (present day) Nigeria and controversial today, with a significant campaign to have them returned to their homeland. Historian Paddy Docherty - who tells a complicated story with verve and dark humour - reveals how the statues came to be in the UK, and through that narrative, paints an unsettling portrait of violent imperialism and the attitudes and interests which fueled it.

Plundered during a mission of conquest to expand the empire, the statues are stunning and valuable examples of craft and culture. The British forces, in their prejudice, didn’t believe the locals capable of having created the artworks. At every turn they flatly denied the sophistication (and the very humanity) of the people they subjugated. Local leaders were lied to and divided (the better to conquer). Bumbling but lethal British expeditionary forces were deployed by commanders marinated in imperial arrogance. Where they found resistance, the British were all too ready to deploy starvation and mass killing of civilians - either covered up or justified back home with lurid tales of black African “savagery” spread by the newspapers.

The book gives a vivid glimpse into the mindset and dysfunction of the imperialists. Propaganda, pomp and highfalutin proclamations provide cover for base thuggery and theft. Leaving death and destruction behind them, officers - sometimes incompetent, sometimes murderous - are quietly moved from post but suffer no sanction or consequence for their actions. For the highest officials of the empire, protecting the image and wealth of Britain was more important than morality or truth. Today, more than a hundred years later, this book helps us see that lies told back then are seeds from which our contemporary self-image grew. It also highlights the lies told to this day, by unscrupulous politicians and journalists who still have a vested interest in British exceptionalism and myth-making. And who, perhaps more than anything, don't wish us to see the parallels between our past and present actions. 

Blood And Bronze by Paddy Docherty

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SKU: 9781787384569
Ksh2,650.00Price

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