Thomas W. Hodgkinson

There had to be racism

Review by Nicholas Hodgkinson, June 2023

Did you know that the East India Company used to have an army twice as big as the British Empire’s and printed their own money? That the Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling was an Empire enthusiast? That the highest death rate in the UK today is of black people? If you want to teach your kids about the Empire, Stolen History is a perfect birthday present. Trust me, they will enjoy it. I did and I have just celebrated my ninth birthday. In this terrific book, which is designed for readers between 9 and 12, Empireland author Sathnam Sanghera uncovers the truth about the suffering that went with imperialism. Be warned though: if you’re a patriot, you may not love it. Among other things, it reveals that the most dazzling among the Crown Jewels—the Koh-i-Nur diamond—once belonged to an Indian Maharajah. In addition, a lot of things we see in the British Museum were actually confiscated by the British from other countries. After reading this book, I realised that if the British Empire hadn’t existed there wouldn’t be as much racism as there is today. For the Empire to succeed, there had to be racism.