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Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire

David Anderson

2 Reviews

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Prose: non-fiction, History, African history

The true story of the Mau Mau rebellion of 1952-60 in Kenya, told for the first time

This book tells for the first time the story of the dirty war the British fought in Kenya, in the run-up to the country's independence in 1964. In 1952, after years of tension and bitterness, the grievances of the Gikuyu people of central Kenya exploded into open rebellion. Only 32 European settlers died in the subsequent fighting, but more than 1,800 African civilians, over 3,000 African police and soldiers, and 12,000 Mau Mau rebels were killed. Between 1953 and 1956 Britain sent over a thousand Kenyans to the gallows, often on trumped up or non-existent charges. Meanwhile 70,000 people were imprisoned in camps without trial for between two and six years.

David Anderson provides a full and convincing account of a war in which all sides behaved badly, and therefore few of the combatants can be either fully excused, or blamed. These events are still within living memory, and eye-witness testimonies provide the backbone of this controversial story.

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Praise for Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire

  • ...What might have been a dry description of legal proceedings becomes instead a compelling account of the great horror story of Britain's empire. - SUNDAY TIMES

  • Anderson gives a shocking account of the conflict that eventually led to Kenya's independence in 1963. - HAM & HIGH

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