Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The blood never dried

"The Blood Never Dried" is a book by John Newsinger, subtitled, "A People's History of the British Empire" (Bookmarks Publications 2006). The title comes from a quote of Ernest Jones, Chartist and socialist, about the British Empire in 1851: "On its colonies the sun never sets, but the blood never dries". It describes the violence of the British Empire and how that was met by freedom struggles, from the slaves' revolt in Jamaica to the war for independence in Kenya. It makes for salutary reading if you think that the British Empire has been a kinder force in the world than the United States for example. For me it uncovered episodes in history which I had never even heard about before and also explained situations I was aware of already but only very hazily understood. I haven't seen much analysis of the current crisis in the Anglican Communion which relates it to the legacy of the British Empire and its relations to the US empire but this book would certainly be useful background for thinking about our situation in that way.

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