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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Histories of the Hanged
I wish to take issue with Bwana Bunduki. Anderson's book was about more than the use of law in counter-insurgency. It detailed, as few other books have done, the extraordinary complexity of the Kenya crisis, with deep insight into what divided the Kikuyu people. It went on to analyse the great divisions on the British side, between senior judges and senior policemen,...
Published on 19 Jun 2007 by Mr. John M. Lonsdale

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17 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars At least it is better than Elkins
This is a somewhat more subdued and reasoned account of the Kenya Emergency that Elkins' "Britains Gulag". This is not to say that it is by any means the best account of the Emergency, since it still revels in histrionic language such as "dirty war". All counter-insurgencies are dirty, as are all civil wars, and Kenya was no exception - a rebellion against Britain and...
Published on 9 Jan 2007 by Bwana Bunduki


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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Histories of the Hanged, 19 Jun 2007
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Mr. John M. Lonsdale (Cambridge England) - See all my reviews
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I wish to take issue with Bwana Bunduki. Anderson's book was about more than the use of law in counter-insurgency. It detailed, as few other books have done, the extraordinary complexity of the Kenya crisis, with deep insight into what divided the Kikuyu people. It went on to analyse the great divisions on the British side, between senior judges and senior policemen, and generals, on the one hand, most of whom tried to uphold the laws of war and, on the other, magistrates, members of the security forces and, perhaps above all, the Provincial Administration who judged that loyalty to their Kikuyu allies required that the former avert their eyes from, and connive in the cover-ups, of the misdeeds of the latter. While Anderson is unsparing in his criticism, he is also deeply compassionate towards the victims of both Mau Mau and of British counter-insurgency, conscious of the historian's duty to understand, and sympathise with the conflicting demands of the past, as much as to pass judgment. The judgments he arrives at are, very properly, largely from the mouths of British actors at the time.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HIstories of the Hanged, 19 Jun 2007
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D. P. Branch (Exeter, UK) - See all my reviews
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This book is a powerful, revelatory and balanced account of the Mau Mau rebellion and the British response to it. Because Anderson's conclusions are grounded in documentary evidence produced by the colonial authorities, his criticisms of the counter-insurgency campaign carry much weight. Well-written and incisive, Anderson treats all of his subjects judiciously and in an even-handed manner. This book is undeserving of the misguided criticisms made of it by Bwana Bunduki below. This is a fine example of historical scholarship at its very best.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Praise for "Histories of the Hanged.", 19 Jun 2007
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Robert W. Blunt (Chicago, IL USA) - See all my reviews
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For those interested in the historical and social processes through which the law becomes the condition of possibility for the extreme persecution not only of political adversaries but of entire categories of citizens, read "Histories of the Hanged." Anderson has provided a careful interrogation of the colonial legal record that seriously undermines any easy claim to the legitimacy of systematic and lethal state force carried out in the name of the law.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Histories of the hanged, 8 Nov 2013
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Bought for a specific subject I'm studying at university. It fits the bill and was recommended by my tutor after discussion.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, 31 July 2013
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Susan Askew "bel" (London UK) - See all my reviews
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This is an extremely well researched and informative book about the end of colonialism in Kenya. I would definitely recommend anyone interested in the events leading up to this in the 1950s.
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5.0 out of 5 stars 10% through but 100% satisfied, 22 July 2013
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This review is from: Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire (Kindle Edition)
Ten years ago I was played a recording of a 1957 talk about the Mau Mau uprising. Years later as I studied various aspects of history I started to question what I had been told. It prompted me to read more about the history of Kenya and Africa and I have to say this book is one of the best I have read. Yes, I still have 90% to read but already this is a book I struggle to put down. The author honestly and openly presents the facts and openly admits when opinion is given, he doesn't try to disguise opinions as facts and this work can only help to heal many deep wounds... if only we would listen.
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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Histories of the Hanged, 21 Jun 2007
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David Anderson's 'Histories of the Hanged' offers what most other narratives of this period have failed to do: a highly complex, balanced, and rigorously documented account of Mau Mau. His analysis of the counter-insurgency is detailed; and given the world we live in today, his assessment of the use of law to justify increasingly repressive measures in the name of security is important. It is a finely balanced narrative, which combines a passionate commitment to addressing some of the misconceptions and myths that have grown up about this period in Kenya's history, without losing a deep sense of sympathy and outrage at the violence perpetrated by all sides.

An excellent work for academic and non-academic audiences alike. Thoroughly recommended.
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4 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An imporant read, 23 Jun 2007
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Aly Salman Alibhai "Salman Alibhai" (Oxford, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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Anderson's 'Histories of The Hanged' is captivating. It details a part of Kenyan history which has until recently been overlooked and misunderstood, and is therefore a vital read. Though packed with academically useful insights and information, it is also accessible to even the most casual of audiences. It is a useful read for Kenyans and non-Kenyans alike.
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17 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars At least it is better than Elkins, 9 Jan 2007
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This is a somewhat more subdued and reasoned account of the Kenya Emergency that Elkins' "Britains Gulag". This is not to say that it is by any means the best account of the Emergency, since it still revels in histrionic language such as "dirty war". All counter-insurgencies are dirty, as are all civil wars, and Kenya was no exception - a rebellion against Britain and civil war amongst the Kikuyu combined.

What really is missed in this book is the very significance of fact that Britain used the force of law, not just the force of arms, to defeat the Mau Mau. The Attorney General of Kenya was exceptionally careful not to allow the government to excede their lawful powers, and insisted that all trials that took place were rigorously within the norms of civilian justice. Many Mau Mau were acquitted for lack of evidence, a point that this book skims over. Doubtless there were mistakes and miscarriages of justice - and perhaps that brings in the whole issue of the moral status of the death penalty - but what the book fails to convey is that given the dire danger facing Kenya from the Mau Mau, the campaign against Mau Mau was conducted with remarkable restraint and regard for the legal process. Those who were hanged had a trial, unlike the thousans of Africans butchered by the Mau Mau.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars dirty war, 5 Feb 2014
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This review is from: Histories of the Hanged: Britain's Dirty War in Kenya and the End of Empire (Kindle Edition)
well researched book about a long forgotten dirty war ,as we live in a blame culture i see compensation claims
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