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on 6 June 2011
This book is excellent in its own right in focussing on "loyalists", however loaded that term is, caught up in what Branch clearly identifies as a civil war, and also as a counterpoint to David Anderson's "History of the Hanged". Although Anderson's book is good on its own main theme, I think that it minimised two important aspects of the confict: the practice of oathing and the perceptions of the access to land of the haves and have-nots in Kikuyu society. Branch's book makes up for these deficiencies very well.

Branch shows that loyalists have often been portrayed as a small group of backward-looking collaborators, but his more nuanced view is that they were as diverse a group as the insurgents and as authentic (and more effective) nationalists. His summary of the situation of ex-Mau Mau and loyalists before and after independence is important to an understanding of modern Kenya.

The book is generally well-written, free of excessive jargon and clearly well researched. It redresses the oversimplified polemics of Caroline Elkins amonst others and I would recommend it
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