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Unpeople: Britain's Secret Human Rights Abuses Paperback – 4 Nov 2004


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Product details

  • Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage (4 Nov 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099469723
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099469728
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 2.4 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 258,336 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

"Mark Curtis is, in my opinion, this country's best popular historian" (John Pilger)

"Curtis is a brave recorder of truths which the powerful would rather not have told" (Victoria Brittain, former foreign editor at The Guardian)

Book Description

Curtis's second book of revelations on post-war British foreign policy.

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4.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By ShiDaDao Ph.D on 4 Sep 2011
Format: Paperback
A remarkable book upon the subject of 'realpolitik'. In this case, British power politics since the end of WWII, during the declononisation and dismantling of the British empire, and the apparent, wide-spread disregard for Human Rights. Curtis - a former Research Fellow of the Royal Institute for International Affairs (Chatham House), uses the term 'Unpeople' to refer to those people that the British state has deemed 'unworthy' of life, whilst pursuing political and economic gain. Curtis argues that the 'Unpeople' have taken the place of the 'savage', a term and concept that was common during Britain's imperial expansion across the globe the last two hundred years or so. This group of people are not accorded basic human dignity - indeed, they are not perceived as fully 'human' at all, but much like the German notion of 'Lebensunwertes Leben' (life unworthy of life), this group is viewed as fully expendable, and their collective lives are seen as worthless, something to be thrown away, ignored or removed at the whim of a politician.

The paperback (2004) contains 377 numbered pages and is comprised of an Introduction, a Conclusion and is separated into four parts:

Introduction.
Part I. Iraq.
Part II. Propaganda, Reality.
Part III. Terror, Aggression.
Part IV. Coups, Dictators.

Although contemporary with the Tony Blair-New Labour government, this research covers British foreign policy over the years, including the British 'secret' support for US aggression in Vietnan, the war for oil policy in Nigeria, covert operations in Indonesia, the support of Idi Amin in Uganda, protecting a dictator in Chile (Thatcher's friend general Pinochet), and the dirty wars in British Guiana and Arabia.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By A. G. Horne on 6 Oct 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I came across this book only recently through a recommendation in a Noam Chomsky book. Mr Curtis details crimes committed by Her Majesty's Government overseas since World War II.

This is not bedtime reading: you are guaranteed nightmares as each chapter is easy to digest but the themes are hard to stomach: legitimate overseas governments overthrown or destabilised in order to secure the business and/or political interests of an unaccountable British elite.

After reading Unpeople, I now understand the obsession with security and surveillance in the UK. Also, I now have a complete disregard for statements by politicians of any party.

I am grateful to Mr Curtis for this awakening.
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73 of 78 people found the following review helpful By Dave Watton on 22 Feb 2005
Format: Paperback
As a British citizen living under the long shadow of the New Labour political project, it is difficult not to be overwhelmed with cynicism when pondering the motivations and goals of a set of politicians so deeply in thrall to Big Business. Increasingly, too, the poverty of ideals among the mainstream UK political parties, in essence rival factions of the same party representing the narrow interests of the ruling state-corporate elite (as in the US), makes many fearful for the future of representative democracy in the UK.
Yet, even for those disillusioned with this depressing state of affairs, modern historian Mark Curtis' disturbing new book, Unpeople, is still likely to come as a huge shock. Unstintingly and unswervingly, in case study after case study, Curtis uncovers the extraordinary levels of deception lurking beneath the squeaky-clean veneer of UK foreign policy's much-vaunted concern for human rights. At the heart of the author's portrayal of Britain as an outlaw state - one that certainly gives the US a good run for its money - lie the 'unpeople'. These are the expendable citizens of faraway countries who have suffered and died under the miseries imposed by the equally ruthless foreign policies of both Labour and Tory governments. Indeed, according to Curtis' conservative calculations, Britain may well be complicit in the deaths of in excess of 10 million 'unpeople' since World War Two.
Those who have already read Curtis' previous expose, Web of Deceit (2003), will immediately recognise the rigour of his content and the thoroughness of his research, while warming once again to his very readable writing style.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By col2910 on 16 Oct 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
Whilst my main reading interests lie firmly in crime fiction, I do like to read a bit of non-fiction now away, whether it's memoirs, history, politics or social commentary. Last year I read about 13 non-fiction books, this year Unpeople was only the second after Dominic Streatfeild's Cocaine back in January. Unpeople has been in the car for months and months now, and probably due to the subject matter didn't really lend itself to dipping in and dipping out whenever I had those 10 spare minutes while waiting for my better half to finish work or during a waiting period on my Taxi-Dad duties.

In the end irritated by the lack of progress with the book, I decided to just get stuck in and read it. I'm not too interested in spouting my political views or engaging in a debate over successive British government's foreign policies, I`d rather chat about whether or not I should read a few Golden Age Mysteries or stick to my current diet of crime.
Unpeople was interesting enough. There were some examples of some British policies and interventions that occurred in the post-war years that I was unaware of. More recent examples, such as Iraq and Afghanistan; well you would probably have to be living in a cave in Pakistan to remain unaware of these.

The author obviously has an agenda and whilst all his examples are supported by the evidence presented, after a while it just wearied me. Governments do awful things in the name of national interest and security and it would be difficult to consider some of the policies discussed objectively and condone the actions taken. Would the world be a different place if different decisions and policies had been made and followed? Would the death toll have been less in Iraq, in Chile, in Nigeria or in Uganda? Maybe.
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