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The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation Hardcover – 1 Sep 2016

4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Portobello Books Ltd (1 Sept. 2016)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1846275830
  • ISBN-13: 978-1846275838
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.2 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars 30 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 191,490 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

'Ian Cobain reveals the mass destruction of records and archives, and the false memory it has left us with.. an astonishing book' -- Andrew Marr, BBC Radio 4

'The The History Thieves, investigative journalist Ian Cobain brilliantly exposed Britain's dark secrets, including the denied history of torture, massacre and the destruction of records relating to the dying days of the British Empire. Essential complacency-shattering reading' -- New Internationalist

'[A] terrifying account of politics and cover-ups since the 1889 Official Secrets Act. Spin? This is dizzying, disturbing stuff' -- Jeanette Winterson, Best Books of 2016, Guardian

'An engrossing account of how government officials burned the records of imperial rule as the British empire came to an end' -- Book of the Week, Guardian

'Cobain's easy prose turns potentially dry subject matter into an instriguing set of stories... Cobain punches holes in the idea that Britain is an open, transparent country and he worries about the growing trend towards 'closed procedures' in the justice system. While concerned with protecting civil liberties and holding government to account, this book also questions the core of national identity. If so much of their history is concealed, the British are not who they think they are' -- New Internationalist

'Cobain gives an authoritative and accessible account of the lengths the British authorities have gone to in order to keep secrets from its citizens since the nineteenth century' -- TLS

'[The History Thieves] sets out the history of state secrecy and its vital importance in shaping the public image of the nation... Cobain's book demonstrates the function that secrecy played in allowing the British state to maintain a veneer of accountability and transparency. To peek behind this veneers is to see the atrocities committed during wars of decolonization, the secret deployment of British troops in various theaters of war, the colonial files hidden in secret archives, the cover-up of state-sponsored death squads in Northern Ireland, and the obstruction of justice through secret courts' -- Jacobin Magazine

'Meticulously researched and immensely readable... There is a particularly impressive chapter on the dirty war in Ireland' -- Irish Times

'This important and highly readable book proves that, in a so-called age of transparency, official secrecy is actually increasing - in government and the armed forces, in the courts and in Whitehall and the Security Services. Censorship is often imposed to hide embarrassment, but also to prevent accountability for malfeasance and illegality, and to distort deliberately the historical record. There is a new establishment at work, and it preens itself just like the old, possessing the power to suppress. Our only weapon against those Orwell used to call 'the striped-trousered ones who rule' is to expose and deride them - a job Ian Cobain does most effectively' --Geoffrey Robertson QC

'A meticulously researched, eye-opening triumph. Essential reading in the age of Snowden and Assange' -- Charles Cumming, author of A Divided Spy

'Cobain's excellent book exposes the single most significant catastrophe of the 'War on Terror'. While the rebirth of torture has grabbed many headlines, the most dangerous fruit of the atmosphere of fear has been an industry of secrecy. Cobain teaches us both the history of this secretive snooping, and how it imperils us all today' --Clive Stafford Smith

'As one would expect from the pen of an experienced investigative journalist, this is a 'good read', thought-provoking throughout, frequently shocking, but sometimes amusing in its exploration of the more bizarre attempts of the powers to keep us in the dark... Cobain's book, I think, will open many eyes' -- Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs

'The author of this well-researched and carefully written book takes deadly aim at the official version of modern British history... an important book which deserves to change the way we see our recent past' --Peter Oborne

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. He has won a number of awards for his journalism, including the Martha Gellhorn Prize and the Paul Foot Award. He has also won several Amnesty International media awards. His first book, Cruel Britannia (Portobello 2012) won the Paddy Power Total Politics Award for Debut Political Book of the Year.


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