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Legacy of Violence


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About the Author

Caroline Elkins is a professor of history and of African and African American studies at Harvard University and the founding director of Harvard's Centre for African Studies. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Fulbright and an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship.

Her first book, Britain's Gulag: The Brutal End of Empire in Kenya, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction. Her research for that book was the subject of the award-winning BBC documentary Kenya: White Terror. She also served as an expert in the historic Mau Mau reparations case, brought against the British Government by survivors of violence in Kenya.

She is a contributor to the New York Times Book Review, Guardian, Atlantic, Washington Post and New Republic. She lives in Watertown, Massachusetts.


Masterful, crucial ... as unflinching as it is gripping, as carefully researched as it is urgently necessary -- Jill Lepore, author of These Truths
Masterly... demonstrates that the British Empire, far from being part good, part bad, baked together from the outset state-sponsored violence and institutional racism with a periodic rewriting of its history as one of progress and civilisation, covering up atrocities and hiding or destroying incriminating documents. This book is dynamite -- Robert Gildea, author of Empires of the Mind
The history of the British Empire that we desperately need today... Sweeping, forceful, and passionately argued... A monumental achievement -- Maya Jasanoff, author of The Dawn Watch
A gripping, richly peopled, epic narrative... In stunning prose and drawing on staggering research, Elkins uncovers the reality of routine and ruthlessly violent suspension of law and militarized policing as imperial personnel and practices moved from crisis to crisis around the globe -- Priya Satia, author of Time's Monster: How History Makes History
In nothing was the British Empire more successful than its skilful concealment of the violence that it unleashed across the globe, over centuries. Caroline Elkins' Legacy of Violence is a laudably ambitious attempt at unearthing this hidden legacy, the bitter fruits of which are becoming more and more visible every day -- Amitav Ghosh, author of The Nutmeg's Curse
Illuminating and authoritative... The repression and violence Elkins narrates on an epic scale matters because they continue to reverberate tragically in our global present -- Priyamvada Gopal, author of Insurgent Empire
A work of deep archival achievement that creates a historical argument that is courageous and ambitious... This is a text for our times -- Homi Bhabha, Anne F. Rothenberg Professor of the Humanities, Harvard University
A thumping great study by a heavyweight academic historian -- Robbie Millen * The Times, *Books to Look Out For 2022* *
A clear, incisive account of the way in which the British maintained public order in the colonies through 'lawful lawlessness'... An exceedingly valuable book on the dark side of the British Empire -- Wm. Roger Louis, Editor-in-Chief of Oxford History of the British Empire
Legacy of Violence is a formidable piece of research that sets itself the ambition of identifying the character of British power over the course of two centuries and four continents... this history could not be more timely -- Tim Adams * Observer *
Legacy of Violence...is deeply researched... a powerful, compelling read -- Rana Mitter * Financial Times *
Fascinating... [Legacy of Violence] is a harrowing read, and one that brings the violence of empire sharply into focus -- Alex von Tunzelmann * BBC History Magazine *
Vividly written... [Elkins] brings together...episodes in order to draw out what she sees as their commonalities in British imperial doctrine -- John Darwin * Times Literary Supplement *
[Elkins'] magnum opus... Elkins' achievement is to chronicle how makeshift responses to rebellion evolved into a chillingly standardised playbook for then use of force -- Erik Linstrum * History Today *
Legacy of Violence is beautifully written and follows through on its arguments doggedly... This is an important book that deserves to be read by everyone who wants to understand and argue against the current attempt to reinvigorate the romance of the British Empire * Socialist Worker *
A dark, riveting book... her [Elkins'] method is what gives the book its intensity * New Statesman, *Books of the Year* *
Fascinating ... a real page-turner * Literary Review *

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