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  • We Need to Talk About the British Empire

  • By: Afua Hirsch
  • Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
  • Show
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,536 ratings)

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Summary

Making sense of the British Empire's legacy... through the stories of people who lived through it.

Through six intimate conversations with a new generation of writers and historians - journalist Afua Hirsch tries to break through old cliches, and unpick the true legacy of this complicated and difficult inheritance.

She speaks to leading figures in British culture today - from poet Benjamin Zephaniah to actress Diana Rigg, broadcaster Anita Rani to novelist Nadifa Mohamed - discovering vivid family stories of the people who made the Empire what it was. And she hears how its ripples continue to shape our lives, and sense of collective identity today: our attitudes and cultural values, the multicultural, multiracial population of the British Isles today, and the relationships that Britain has with other parts of the world.

A Somethin’ Else Production.

This is an Audible Original Podcast. Free for members. You can download all 6 episodes to your Library now.

©2019 Audible, Ltd. (P)2019 Audible, Ltd.

What listeners say about We Need to Talk About the British Empire

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truths people need to hear

i am a white british male,poor as far as britain and the north goes.most my family were either miners and military.I found this not eye opening as i always knew that the worlds history was a sad affair in most cases,if not all.But i belive its a subject that all those who call themselves british citizens need to hear...i just hope that there are plans for a second series..maybe touching on lets talk about the british empire again.so much to say and so little time to say it.
Anyway truly enjoyed it great narrative subject and deserves a 5 star for effort well done guys😁

207 people found this helpful

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Important and well balanced

As someone who has no direct links to the empire but is affected by Brexit, the rise of nationalism and curious about areas of conflict and turbulence in the world today, I found this a fascinating listen. We need more of this; women and men from different backgrounds who are able to respectfully and share knowledge and perspective.

141 people found this helpful

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Very very interesting perspective

Beautifully compiled and so many important and very differing views. One is compelled to listen to each and every one of the six stories to get a balance.
It would be interesting to compare it to other collapsed empires.... Certainly Britain's legacy of trying their best to introduce law and order as fairly as possible (agreeably to their advantage initially) should be somewhat respected and not all ex colonials should be seen as greedy plundering ex slave traders.
I'm a third generation ex African colonial and I am proud of what my grand parents and parents achieved and stood for... Yes they had adventures and yes they had loyal proud staff but life was certainly no bed of roses and they did a thousand times more good for Africa than bad. Like Ms Rudd we are welcomed with open arms when we visit our old home bases to meet our old staff and their children. When are we coming back? Is the question most often asked.
The sad thing is that a relatively small proportion of Brits still treat a third generation Brit Jamaican in the same way he treats a proud Brit descendent who comes home!
Where is the pride gone?
Do we need another world war to pull the Commonwealth together? Hopefully not....and I tell my youngsters and their partners.....Oh but look ...you live in perhaps the world's most inter racial and amazing multi cultural country in the world..... But still you blame your forefathers and want everything on a silver plate handed out by your collapsing cash strapped social services departments......
Perhaps when we are all speaking Chinese we will look back and say.... Maybe the old generation Brits weren't so bad after all!?
Anyway..... I remain hopeful for Britain and the future and really hope this forum continues and we hear some more of the other varying stories of our old Empire. ...positive and negative!

98 people found this helpful

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  • 01-05-20

1-sided summary from toxic journalist Afua Hirsch

I was disappointed by this book from the very beginning.

The Empire is rightly a subject of scrutiny, and I was hoping for a balanced study on what is an important topic -- the legacy of the British Empire and the way it is regarded in modern Britain. I should have known better given the author is Afua Hirsch.

Hirsch has built a career on race-baiting, polarisation and toxicity that notably included a call to topple Nelson's Column.

As any academic or journalist knows, to offer a balanced account you need to gather the data and come to your own conclusion. Hirsch starts with a conclusion and only presents evidence to back up her point.

In this case, Hirsch's starting point is simple: the British Empire was utterly, totally, unredeemably evil. From the outset, she seeks to find only evidence that supports this hypothesis. She shies away from any topic that might counteract this premise (e.g. the Empire's role in stopping the worldwide slave trade, abolition of Sati in India, the spread of democracy and ultimately its destruction in order to defeat of a genuinely evil empire -- the Third Reich). This makes her account more of a rant than a study.

We DO need to talk about the British Empire, but Afua Hirsch isn't interested in talking about it. She is interested in making HER point, and hers alone.

84 people found this helpful

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essential listening

absolutely compelling listening, I will recommend this podcast to everyone I know. Thank you for telling these stories. As a product of empire myself, they have been healing to hear.

60 people found this helpful

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high quality documentary

A good variety of people interviewed and fascinating reflections on the impact, in so many ways, of the British empire.

43 people found this helpful

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  • MW
  • 29-02-20

Much needed wake up call

Some of the reviews on here are scary in their racism and ignorance. Wow.
“Most colonies would have been ruled by someone else if not us. We ended slavery.” Seriously??? WTF?

Britain created slavery and is responsible for some serious atrocities and wilful annihilation of local culture. Penal laws, atrocities and conflict that lasts to this day in Ireland, including causing the not-actually-a-famine famine - just one example.

Blaming indigenous people and this superior, arrogant attitude that somehow countries are better off having been colonised has got to stop. Hong Kong was taken over because of its successful port and intelligent people in Britain’s quest to drug China.

This podcast is the first step at opening eyes and hopefully creating some humility and understanding. If this was properly taught at school there would be far less ignorance and racism in this country.

42 people found this helpful

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A brilliant series

I found this a fascinating series that covered the way that the British Empire impacted on the lives of so many people. It contained a variety of personal stories that reflected the diversity of the Empire. It did not hold back from showing the overt racism, cruelty and stratification of the colonies. It covered the slave trade as well as the tragedy of the chaotic and disastrous partition of India in 1947.
It taught me a lot of history that was never covered in school.
Thoroughly recommended.

41 people found this helpful

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no never know

I never thought about the effects of colonialism, I download this series because the way my brother talks about the british empire annoys me, even angers me, but I never understood why, although ignorant myself I knew there was something large and multifaceted about the British empire and its residual effects on current society's around the world, I now feel like I have a foot hold on this long climb up, well worth a listen, worth talking about and sharing.

36 people found this helpful

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  • BR
  • 13-03-20

Totally Brilliant

A most interesting and informative profile of the British Empire told by the people who were colonised. An indictment definitely but told with dignity and grace and humour. I don't think you can get better audible broadcasting than this. Afua Hirsch introduces inspiring people and let's the narratives unfold and it is just riveting. So much that is unknown. I promise, you will listen to some of the episodes twice . . . or more!

33 people found this helpful