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Bloody Foreigners: The Story of Immigration to Britain [Paperback]

Robert Winder
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)

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Book Description

21 April 2005

Immigration is one of the most important stories of modern British life, yet it has been happening since Caesar first landed in 53 BC. Ever since the first Roman, Saxon, Jute and Dane leaped off a boat we have been a mongrel nation. Our roots are a tangled web. From Huguenot weavers fleeing French Catholic persecution in the 18th century to South African dentists to Indian shopkeepers; from Jews in York in the 12th century (who had to wear a yellow star to distinguish them and who were shamefully expelled by Edward I in 1272) to the Jamaican who came on board the Windrush in 1947. The first Indian MP was elected in 1892, Walter Tull, the first black football player played (for Spurs and Northampton) before WW1 (and died heroically fighting for the allies in the last months of the war); in 1768 there were 20,000 black people in London (out of a population of 600,000 - a similar percentage to today). The 19th century brought huge numbers of Italians, Irish, Jews (from Russia and Poland mainly), Germans and Poles.

This book draws all their stories together in a compelling narrative.

Product details

  • Paperback: 560 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (21 April 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780349115665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349115665
  • ASIN: 0349115664
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,369 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


splendidly researched and subtle history (OBSERVER)

a topical, formidable and engaging book which will have - and deserves to have - many readers...a breath of fresh air (SUNDAY TIMES)

Robert Winder's totally absorbing and revelatory book could not be more timely (and) indispensable (DAILY MAIL)

Book Description

* The story of immigration to Britain from the Romans to asylum seekers.

* A moving and inspiring history which chronicles the remarkable stories of immigration that founded and defined a nation.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
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First Sentence
The very first immigrant to arrive in the British Isles, some 25,000 years ago, would have been hard put to say exactly where he was, and not only because he could barely speak. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
You only have to pick up any paper on any day in this country to find some kind of polemic against immigration. Whther it's bogus asylum seekers, official government figures, racial tensions, bureaucratic screw-ups, deportations, there's always bound to be someone, somewhere complaining about immigration to this country.

So reading this book was like a breath of fresh air. Winder traces the roots of immigration to these isles all the way from prehistory onwards, making the point that at some level we are all immigrants; we all bear strains of DNA from Celts, Romans, Picts, Scots, Vikings, Danes, Normans, French, Germans, West Indians, Indians, Chinese, Africans. Institutions we think of as quintessentially British are the brainchildren of immigrants: Rothschilds, Harrods, Marks & Spencers, Tesco, the list goes on.

Winder argues that immigration itself is a self-selecting process: only those with the most education, the most drive and ambition, the most determination and perseverance, are likely to overcome to immense obstacles standing in the way of successfully reaching and settling in Britain. And these kind of people are likely to be an asset to any country, not just this one. Statistics prove that the level of education, the level of professional qualifications held are higher amongst immigrants than they are in the rest of the general population - and yet time after time we see immigrants and asylum-seekers dismissed as lazy, criminal, uneducated. And this is quite apart from the fact that immigrants make up only 4% of the general population - hardly the flood we hear about.

This book isn't all a rant against the anti-immigration brigade.
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60 of 76 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Erudite yet readable 29 Jun 2004
By A Customer
The issue of immigration tends to polarise opinion and in this well written and superbly researched book, Robert Winder makes us fundamentally question why we regard immigration as an 'issue' in the first place. Largely eschewing the well rehearsed moral arguments that are usually made, Winder focuses on the socio-economic impact of migration into Britain, from the end of the Ice Age to the present day. Throughout the book, Winder combines historical narrative with some well placed anecdotes to develop his thesis that immigration is, and has always been, a force for good. His arguments are generally well balanced, recognising that host countries face some legitimate concerns, and making the point on several occassions that despite some lamentable lapses, Britain has a generally honourable tradition in its dealing with migrants over the centuries - at least in comparative terms. As someone who was not born in the UK but has made it my home, I found the material both refreshing and interesting. Not enough comment, in my view, is made in the popular media of the economic benefits from immigration. Perhaps Robert Winder's book should be 'docu-dramatised' for TV: it may help advance the mainstream debate in the way Simon Schama has reinvigorated popular interest in British history.
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59 of 76 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant history of immigration into Britain 21 Aug 2005
By Ralph Blumenau TOP 500 REVIEWER
A most impressive book, and beautifully written. Winder traces the story of immigrants into Britain - he deals mainly with England - from pre-Celtic times to the present. As the sources become more plentiful, so the book gathers momentum, and by the time he reaches the time of the Huguenot immigrants in the 17th century, it really begins to sparkle. As he moves from one wave of immigrants to the next, the story - until very recent times - is always the same: initially there is some popular resentment, but, often sooner rather than later, they have been accepted, do well and contribute enormously to the economy and quality of life in these islands. Many people will be aware of the variety of immigrants who have come to these shores; but this is a thorough and systematic account, based on a formidable amount of reading. Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars Who are the British? 12 April 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A balanced, intelligent, historical review of immigration to Britain. Primary sources used throughout. The British population is made up of differing periods of immigration and the British bloodline is one of mixed antecedents for over a thousand years. For those who wish to refer to the English this account argues that basically there is no such thing. If we talk about culture it is even more dynamic.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Fabulous!
Thoroughly good read. Controversial subject matter but expertly put across. Coincidently, just finished this book in my hotel room after a trip to Auschwitz-Birkenau, reminds you... Read more
Published 1 month ago by Mrs. Hayley Edmunds
5.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, balanced and well researched.
Great read. A real eye opener.
Well written, keeps your interest going but there's a lot of information so I'll read it again at some point. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Marina
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent history of immigration
Amidst all the clap-trap from the right-wing press, this book shows just why immigration is important to this country. Read more
Published 4 months ago by Terwitt Twoo
1.0 out of 5 stars Contempt For The Irish.
In an otherwise liberal look at emmigration to Britain when it comes to the Irish all rationality seems to leave Robert Winder in his chapter about the Irish contribution to... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Roy Burns Artist.
5.0 out of 5 stars Bloody Foreigners
This is a very informative and interesting history of immigration to the United Kindom. I would heartily recommend others to read this if you are after a balanced view of the story... Read more
Published 8 months ago by garry hinchliffe
5.0 out of 5 stars The "missing history" of Britain
A wonderful review of countless immigrations and individual stories of success and failure throughout British history. Read more
Published 8 months ago by Sampo Rassi
5.0 out of 5 stars a tolerant view
Published 10 months ago by S. A. Jones
3.0 out of 5 stars Its okay
A look into London's cultural make-up. The big punch line is that there is no such thing as pure british.
Published 11 months ago by Tate C
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading
This book is packed with information about the many waves of immigration that have affected the UK. It gives historical background and it picks out illuminating detail about... Read more
Published 12 months ago by H. Ward
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent!
I am a fairly critical person when reviewing but I am presented with no problems at all this time. This is a truly excellent book which will be loved by all interested in the... Read more
Published 18 months ago by Dr. Kenneth Lancer
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