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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent critical history of the British Empire
The "People's History" series has a well-deserved reputation, even if it is not a coordinated undertaking by any particular publisher. This book does not diminish that reputation. "The Blood Never Dried" is a people's history of the British Empire, and as such is an overdue critical, systematic examination of the litany of crimes, murders, and exploitations of all parts...
Published on 5 April 2012 by M. A. Krul

versus
2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Marxist, whats more to be said
Newsinger is intellectually dishonest with a penchant for camouflaging success with failure, his faulty, revisionist view of the British Empire tells you more about the author than his subject. Here is a man who views everything through the lens of his ideology and that lens is at times rose-colored and alternatively muddy. One of the biggest concerns about his work is...
Published 9 months ago by Journalist1


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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent critical history of the British Empire, 5 April 2012
By 
M. A. Krul (London, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
The "People's History" series has a well-deserved reputation, even if it is not a coordinated undertaking by any particular publisher. This book does not diminish that reputation. "The Blood Never Dried" is a people's history of the British Empire, and as such is an overdue critical, systematic examination of the litany of crimes, murders, and exploitations of all parts of the world undertaken under the banner of the Union Jack. At the risk of repeating other reviewers, the book examines in order: (1) Jamaica and slavery, (2) the Irish famine, (3) the Opium Wars and Taiping Rebellion (though not the Boxers), (4) the Sepoy Rebellion, (5) the colonization of Egypt, (6) WWI, (7) the settling and revolt of interwar Palestine, (8) Indian independence, (9) the Suez Crisis, (10) the Mau-Mau Rebellion, (11) the suppression of the revolt in Malaya, and (12) Britains relationship with American imperialism. In all of these cases, the author John Newsinger portrays without bloodlust but with great gravity and seriousness the enormities and crimes committed by and through imperialism, from widespread famines to systematic torture, murder, and repression. As Newsinger makes clear by this comparative process, there is no imperialism, whether 19th or 21st century, that can do without these elements: it was ever thus.

In each case too the author makes clear how the peoples of the colonized and imperialized countries rebelled against and resisted imperialism. He emphasizes quite rightly two very important things: first, that the narrative of Britain (or other Western countries for that matter) 'granting' independence out of the goodness of their enlightened hearts is so much mythology and dressing-up of what were in each and every case the powerful agency of local people throwing off the imperial yoke, much to the dismay and against the military efforts of the British state. Secondly, he points out how from the very start the Labour Party was as happily a participant in the imperialist venture as its Liberal and Tory opponents, and how from the very start Labour Party leaders preferred safeguarding by force the interests of British capital abroad over the global interests of oppressed people. Even such holy cows as Clement Attlee and Herbert Morrison, never mind Tony Blair, were as enthusiastic participants in repressing and exploiting people abroad as ever was a Churchill or a Lloyd George. Finally, Newsinger gives some due attention to the conflict within British ruling class opinion over the right post-imperial strategy: the conflict between those with mainly European interests, and those with mainly global interests. The former support a strategy of European integration and counterbalancing American power with European power (effectively in alliance with France), the latter support Britain's vassalage to the United States, dressed up as a "special relationship". As the author points out, only one government since WWII has attempted the former route (Edward Heath); the Atlanticists are generally firmly in the saddle.

The book is very lucidly written and makes for good, if not pleasant, reading. If one must criticize, there are but two elements that might have been emphasized more: first, the history of resistance against the British Empire within Britain itself, which is now virtually absent; and secondly, some more economic analysis of the benefits of Empire and its role in enabling current and past British power and prosperity. After all, Newsinger does point out in the chapter on Malaya that this seemingly minor struggle involved the British monopoly on exploiting Malaysian rubber, which was at the time worth more than all British domestic industrial production combined. More of such, and its implications for Britain, would have been nice. As it stands though, this is an excellent companion to British imperial history for any critical reader, and one of several useful counterparts to the recently revived Empire apologia.
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13 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent antidote to the recent attempt to revive the respectability of British imperialism., 25 July 2012
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
Other reviewers have laid out the great strengths of this book, so I won't dwell too long on them. The number one strength is the breadth of topics and geographical spread, the relatively short chapters, each one an essay covering the conflict between those who were colonised and their British imperial oppressors.

Each of these chapters/essays is well buttressed by the breadth and depth of research that Newsinger has put into them and the notes and bibliography are a rich source of follow up reading for anyone wishing to go into more depth on particular issues. I've read quite a few books simply on the basis of them being referenced in this one, so it's not just an antidote to obscene attempts to resurrect imperial respectability but a great introduction to a variety of topics and a rich source of further reading.

It's a book that should be in every socialist's collection.
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39 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect antidote to Niall Ferguson's revisionist account, 12 Dec 2008
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Neil Foxlee (UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
A richly deserved counter-blast to Niall Ferguson's Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, which disgracefully glossed over the many crimes against humanity committed in the name of British imperial power. The fact that Newsinger's book received so little attention when it came out speaks volumes. For another study in the same vein that focuses on the 20th century up to the present, see Mark Curtis's Web Of Deceit: Britain's Real Foreign Policy: Britain's Real Role in the World. You will see Britain and the world rather differently if you read these books.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The history they don't teach., 27 Feb 2013
By 
Shaun Wilde (Midlands, England) - See all my reviews
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This book reveals the country's imperial past, officially depicted as a benign and burdensome necessity of civilising primitive peoples, for the Gestapo-like barbarity it really was. Shocking but very enlightening.
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38 of 50 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Introducing The Real British Empire, 22 July 2010
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S Wood (Scotland) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
John Newsingers "The Blood Never Dried" might be subtitled as a "Peoples History of the British Empire" but it is nothing of the sort. What the reader will instead find is a fine piece of writing that rather than providing a linear history of the Empire, examines a number of historical episodes that starkly illuminate what under girded the Empires existence: brutality and violence.

The selection is from what is known as the second British Empire, that which existed after the loss of the American colonies during the late eighteenth century. The episodes examined are (1) Jamaica and Slavery, (2) The Irish Famine, (3) The Opium Wars in China, (4) The 1857-58 Rebellion (Mutiny) in India, (5) The Invasion of Egypt in 1882, (6) The Imperial Crisis subsequent to WW1, (7) The Palestine Revolt of the late 1930's, (8) The campaign for Indian Independence, (9) The Suez War, (10) Kenya and the Mau-Mau Insurrection, (11) Malaya's "Emergency", and (12) Britains relationship with American Imperialism.

Each chapter focussing on one of the subjects (as listed above) and also put the events described into a broader historical context, including many quotes from contemporary participants and observers. It also reminds the reader that what a vicious racist Churchill could be, not least in relation to Iraq (where he spoke up for gassing recalcitrant tribes) and India (where even his viceroy in India was appalled at his callous response to the Bengal Famine that cost millions of Indian lives). Those who have fond memories of Old Labour will be disturbed to discover that one area of continuity between New and Old is foreign policy. Ernest Bevin, Herbert Morrison and even Clement Atlee were quite as capable of carrying out brutal imperial policies as their Conservative opponents. Each episode also includes some commentary on how orthodox histories, and biographies, have dealt with the history that Newsinger brings to the reader, giving them an idea of the paucity and partiality of much historical writing on this subject. The only source of irritation, albeit minor, was Newsingers pigeon-holing of every insurrection, uprising, rebellion, etc as "revolutionary".

"The Blood Never Dried" is an excellent introduction to the reality of the British Empire. It is far from exhaustive, it could easily be three or four times the size, but one that is an ideal riposte to some of the recent boosters of Empire, from Niall Ferguson (soon to revamp the history curriculum) to Tony Blair, Andrew Roberts to Gordon Brown, and all too many more. Well recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An essential history of the British Empire, 17 Oct 2014
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This is an interesting and well written book. John Newsinger presents episodes from British imperial history that are often ignored or brushed over, but which are, in fact, central to an understanding of the way the British controlled the populations over which it held sway.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great, important read, 15 Oct 2012
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
This fascinating account of some - though by no means all - of the British Empire's most unsavoury episodes makes for essential reading for anyone seeking to obtain a comprehensive overview of the nature of empire, and the mechanisms upon which it depends. Drawing from events in India, Kenya, Iran, Egypt, China and various other regions, Newsinger's detailed, fact-based approach serves to distinguish itself from other, more theoretical or polemical works. Newsinger definitely has a viewpoint, but it's a viewpoint based on historical events and details that those in power would most likely prefer to forget. Readers should be aware that this is not a complete history of the British Empire, but rather a series of illuminating case studies (derived from a broad spread of periods) that serve as a reminder to all of us of the crimes and suffering that imperialism necessarily inflicts. A powerful, and timely, work.
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17 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential Reading, 14 April 2009
By 
John D. Andrews "free democrat" (grantham, lincs United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
It must be all but impossible to write a truly meaningful people's history of Britain. 'Blood Never Dried' is a wonderful title for a wonderful book that really should be essential reading in every history class in Britain.

It is a short book, a collection of a dozen longish essays; and critics will sniff at its superficial nature. However, it is very readible, concise and to the point; and though it relates vital lessons specific to the British Empire, perhaps its greatest virtue is its powerful condemnation of imperial rule generally, especially as we witness the new empire emerging, making the same "mistakes" as the last.

I do hope Mr Newsinger applies his considerable ability to writing a longer study relating the British people's struggle since the dawn of their history.
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32 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Useful outline history of the British Empire, 15 Dec 2006
By 
William Podmore (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
The author of this useful outline of the British Empire is a history lecturer at Bath Spa University College.

In the early 19th century, the Empire gained vast profits from slavery. 13 million people were kidnapped from Africa; two million died or were killed en route. The 1831 slave rebellion in Jamaica played a key role in overthrowing slavery in the British Caribbean.

During the 19th century, the British state waged three `Opium wars' to force the drug on China. As American historian John K. Fairbanks wrote, Britain's opium trade was `the most long-continued and systematic crime of modern times'.

India's 1857 rising for national liberation was `a national revolt' (Disraeli), `a national war' (Governor-General Lord Canning). The British government as usual accused the rebels of rape and torture (later British investigations proved these accusations to be lies), to incite its forces to commit appalling atrocities against the Indian people.

Gladstone's Liberal government ordered British forces to invade Egypt and Sudan in 1882-84. They massacred tens of thousands of people at Alexandria, Tel-el-Kebir and Omdurman.

After World War One, fought supposedly for the rights of small nations, some of the colonies, like Ireland, Egypt, India, Iraq and Palestine, decided to fight for their freedom. The Empire resisted, with its usual methods of barbarism. In Ireland, Churchill and Lloyd George enthusiastically backed the `Black and Tans' death squads.

Of the Iraq war, T. E. Lawrence wrote in 1920, "Things have been far worse than we have been told, our administration more bloody and inefficient than the public knows. It is a disgrace to our imperial record, and may soon be too inflamed for any ordinary cure. We today are not far from a disaster."

General Rawlinson, the commander in chief in India, said in 1920, "You may say what you like about not holding India by the sword, but you have held it by the sword for 100 years and when you give up the sword you will be turned out. You must keep the sword ready to hand and in case of trouble or rebellion use it relentlessly. Montagu calls it terrorism, so it is and in dealing with natives of all classes you have to use terrorism whether you like it or not."

After 1945, in the Far East, the Empire conducted brutal wars in Malaya, Indonesia (620 British and Indian troops were killed and 20,000 Indonesians), and Vietnam, where the army instructed officers, "Always use the maximum force available to ensure wiping out any hostiles we may meet. If one uses too much no harm is done." The British position in the Middle East collapsed, after defeats in Palestine, Iran, Egypt and Iraq.

In Kenya in the 1950s, the Empire portrayed its pogrom against the Kikuyu people as a Kikuyu pogrom against the white settlers. The comparative death tolls reveal the truth: even official figures showed 11,500 Kikuyu killed, and 32 settlers.

Newsinger argues that the British ruling class sees the American empire as the best guarantor of its global interests. He concludes that only `mass protest and mass resistance' can end `British capitalism's allegiance to the American Empire'. We will need to do a lot more than that!
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great, 14 July 2013
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This review is from: The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire (Paperback)
Too many people think of the Empire as noble and it was not. Too many think England is paved with gold until they get a job and work here. This book is refreshing and a tonic for sentimentalists who look back to the "good old days."
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The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire
The Blood Never Dried: A People's History of the British Empire by John Newsinger (Paperback - 24 Sep 2006)
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