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  • We Need to Talk About the British Empire

  • By: Afua Hirsch
  • Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
  • Categories: History, Europe
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (1,331 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.

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Biased, Biased, Biased

No balance, determined to show Empire in the worst possible light. Hirsch always wants to play and promote the victim and never provides a balanced view. It is easy to snipe with the benefit of hindsight.

312 people found this helpful

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A prejudiced author ruins a valuable debate

There should be a robust debate about the impact of the British Empire, clearly not the nations finest hour. Sadly Afua Hirsch’s own prejudice and bigotry distorts what should be a valuable analysis. Other contributors introduce balance but the author’s jaundiced approach undermines the integrity of the overall analysis.

255 people found this helpful

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This is ridiculous!!!

Bringing modern "progressive" "woke" values on history never ends well and this really isn't a balanced look at the British Empire though the lens of the world as it was during it's height but with a modern agenda. Agenda never leads to truth or clarity. Afua Hirsch hates the British. She is a Guardian journalist, one of the most woke and biased papers in Britain. The Guardian is staffed by the vilest self hating white middle class who tray and wake other with their constant diatribes against this week's villain. Spoiler it's probably a older white male. The Guardian HATES older straight white males, especially ones from the provinces. They do nasty things like vote in a way that the Guardian doesn't like and democracy is only good if people vote the right way. That's why only educated people like Guardian readers should be allowed the vote. The Empire was a pretty strange thing. It was effectively born out of a need for trade when most of Catholic Europe didn't want to do business with Protestant England. So off Britain went to look for trade. It set up trading companies and ended up with the worlds biggest Empire. It took advantage of Slavery, existing networks set up by native Africans and Arab traders, before getting a conscience and using the worlds most powerful Navy to stop it. Why did the Empire finish? The Amercians bankrupted Britain after the second world war. The end of British Indian Rule was an American demand before we could have more loans. It wasn't even a universally popular move amongst Indians. The Empire had it's flaws. Mostly because it was run for London by London and on highly capitalist lines. If rather than collapsed some kind of Joseph Chamberlain Imperial Federation had happened then the world would be a much better place today.

204 people found this helpful

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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😁

160 people found this helpful

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Very unbalanced

A very biased look at the Empire: I wanted to be educated but constantly felt like we were viewing it's history through an extremely narrow lens. Stop treating us like fools and present a well rounded look at history. Im 30 and it feels like our generation is being taught our history with a very negative slant. Please give us the full picture! Very poor, very disappointing.

132 people found this helpful

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Poor

Poor one sided hate for the British , would not recommend this to anyone. I would except Audible to pay you to listen to it !!

118 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.

113 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!

80 people found this helpful

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Complete tunnel vision

Some interesting personal stories, which would be interesting in a proper history podcast. The British empire portrayed as status quo, is only in the minds of Britain's most ignorant. If she had any university history, all topics covered here are discussed at length. Shockingly bad research and tunnel vision.

65 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.

48 people found this helpful