Book Launch – Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya

January 26, 2005 // 9:00am10:30am

A book launch with Caroline Elkins, assistant professor of history at Harvard University and author of the recently published, Imperial Reckoning: The Untold Story of Britain's Gulag in Kenya. Elkins's re-examination of the unraveling of British rule in Kenya provided the basis for the 2002 BBC documentary Kenya: White Terror. Publisher's Weekly calls Imperial Reckoning "a profoundly chilling portrait of the inherent racism and violence of ‘colonial logic,'" and states that "her superbly written and impassioned book deserves the widest possible readership."

The product of over a decade of archival research and hundreds of interviews, Imperial Reckoning recounts the compelling story of the prisons and work camps where the British government detained members of the Kikuyu, Kenya's largest ethnic group, in an attempt to end the Mau Mau uprising. Although nearly one and a half million people passed through this system—and thousands died in detention—their experiences have gone largely untold due to a determined effort to destroy documents detailing the full extent of Mau Mau era abuses. The Economist praises Elkins's attempt to reveal this lost past, writing that she "forces the reader to view this conflict from the Africans' side in a way that few western historians writing about Kenya have done before."

Caroline Elkins was be joined by discussant David Throup, Senior Associate and co-chair of the Kenya Roundtable at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. He is the author of Economic and Social Origins of Mau Mau and co-author of Multi-Party Politics in Kenya.


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