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Cruel Britannia: A Secret History of Torture Hardcover – 1 Nov 2012

4.6 out of 5 stars 65 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd; First Edition. edition (1 Nov. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846273331
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846273339
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.9 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (65 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 346,694 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

In one of the most shocking and persuasive books of the year, Cobain details not just British complicity in torture, but the longstanding practice of the thing itself, and the lies British politicians have always told, and are still telling, to cover it up. --David Hare

I found Cruel Britannia utterly gripping. Ian Cobain's writing has poise and measure, allowing space for these horrific truths to seep in, under the skin. I will not forget what I have learnt from this book, and I will be telling others about it for years to come. --P J Harvey

I am not prone to gasp and nor would I describe myself as naive. But the scale of torture in the British security services, as revealed by Ian Cobain in this admirably researched book, took me aback... Absorbing and devastating - Observer

Cobain's account is a reminder of why the default assumption, for every journalist dealing with authority, must be: Why is this liar lying to me? ? For the reader, it is a reminder of why we need journalist. As this quietly reported history of torture shows, Cobain is a fine one - Sunday Times

From the London Cage a secret World War II interrogation centre through to the Cold War, the Troubles and the death of Baha Mousa in Iraq, what d been done under the aegis of the British state will shock anyone who cherishes civilised values - --Metro

A deeply disturbing book which implicates both the British Government and the Security Services. It is like rolling a hand grenade into the heart of the Establishment. --Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer

I am not prone to gasp and nor would I describe myself as naive. But the scale of torture in the British security services, as revealed by Ian Cobain in this admirably researched book, took me aback... Absorbing and devastating - Observer

Cobain's account is a reminder of why the default assumption, for every journalist dealing with authority, must be: Why is this liar lying to me? ? For the reader, it is a reminder of why we need journalist. As this quietly reported history of torture shows, Cobain is a fine one - Sunday Times

From the London Cage a secret World War II interrogation centre through to the Cold War, the Troubles and the death of Baha Mousa in Iraq, what d been done under the aegis of the British state will shock anyone who cherishes civilised values - --Metro

A deeply disturbing book which implicates both the British Government and the Security Services. It is like rolling a hand grenade into the heart of the Establishment. --Lieutenant Colonel Nicholas Mercer

About the Author

IAN COBAIN was born in Liverpool in 1960. He has been a journalist since the early 1980s and is currently an investigative reporter with the Guardian. His inquiries into the UK's involvement in torture since 9/11 have won a number of major awards, including the Martha Gellhorn Prize and the Paul Foot Award for investigative journalism. He has also won several Amnesty International media awards. Cobain lives in London with his wife and two children. This is his first book.


Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A shocking, shocking book that should be read by everyone especially British politicians. The author makes scrupulous and extensive use of his sources which must have taken months of painstaking work in the (UK) National Archive at Kew and elsewhere including interviews with victims, past torturers and gleaning every scrap of material from published work including memoirs from British Parachute Regiment personnel who at times refused to hand over prisoners to be tortured. From WWII though Palestine, Kenya, Northern Ireland up to Iraq we British tortured our enemies.

Apart from the necessary grisly detail this book is as much about how politicians have evaded and lied by using clever lawyerly phrases - "we never condone torture". But the British clearly exported our detainees to special "Interrogation Centres" where either the job was done for us and we sent the required questions, or MI5 or MI6 operatives stepped back into the room in between bouts of torture. In the face of statements by victims politicians set up "enquiries" when they knew all along what was happening because of their own involvement. The last Labour Government comes out particularly badly after the US famously "took the gloves off" after 9/11. Named cabinet rank politicians agreed rendition of British subjects to Guantanamo and in many cases authorised torture in Pakistan and Iraq as the secret services eventually required "cover" against being hung out to dry if the facts came out. Cameron came into power saying he would put a stop to it but is now processing new laws to enable court trials to be held in camera "in the national interest" to prevent details leaking out.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
An extremely well researched work revealing the dark side of the "civilised west" as it carries out its twenty first century war on terror. Ian Cobain reveals, in a balanced and therefore credible manner,that Britain and America, together with some of its allies in a range of foreign countries, are using medieval and prolonged torture methods which we all thought had been left behind in the in the dark ages.
Illegal rendition seems an almost weekly occurrence
It is essential for the west to win the hearts and minds of its enemies, real or perceived, and to do so they must retain the moral high ground.
However, to engage in savage torture as a means of extracting "intelligence" creates more embittered enemies and deepens the hatred for the west.
This book should be compulsory reading for all politicians, intelligence and military officers as it opens a window into which we can disappointingly see that Britain is not the country of fair play we all thought it was and only foreigners engage in foul, underhand tactics.
Overall, a fascinating read.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ian Cobain's book is well written and confirms his assertions on British torture with cross references and Freedom of Information data. This book is a must for the open minded reader.
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Cruel Britannia is one of the most disturbing books I have read. It catalogues the abuse by British interrogators during the Second World War, the Cold War, the colonial period, scientific advances, Northern Ireland, Iraq, Afghanistan and rendition where British subjects were kidnapped, taken to a third country and tortured.It also exmines the cover ups by both major political parties over the last 75 years to ensure that this practice could continue in defiance of the Geneva Convention and the European Court of Human Rights. It is uncomfortable reading especially when the excuse given is that "It's for our own good!" Not in my name it's not and I write as an ex soldier who took part in some of these conflicts.
The perpetrators should be tried as war criminals.
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Although the topic is nothing new, the book gives the reader a more in depth explanation of how the corrupt & double dealing establishment of this country work.

Perhaps if more people read the book they would realise that other countries regimes are merely copying us & not being the so called demonised savage that we are lead to believe.

An excellent read.
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This book belongs amongst the small library that contains the likes of James Bacque's Other Losses, Philip Agee's CIA Diary, William Pepper's An Act of State, George Crile's Charlie Wilson's War - which have contributed great exposures of the epic scale of state terrorism. It is well written, clearly argued and although the subject matter is harrowing - the insight that it brings to the level of political and military duplicity over the continuous use of torture by the British State is a very positive achievement. In my view this book is compulsory reading.
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Absolutely fascinating and well researched book.
Overview would be - "erm, yes we do torture and always have" - and here are some references if you don't believe me.

Part I particularly liked was the way the book was structured, with chronological chapters devoted to particular conflicts and the successive ones referencing back to the previous. The point it drills home is that the reported cases we're aware of were not isolated incidents, but part of of an on-going institutional culture, that has just occasionally been made visible.
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