Get Your Free Audiobook

We Need to Talk About the British Empire

Written by: Afua Hirsch
Length: 3 hrs and 45 mins
Categories: History, World
4.5 out of 5 stars (10 ratings)

After 30 days, Audible is ₹199/mo. Cancel anytime.

OR

Publisher's 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.

More from the same

Author

What members say
Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    3
  • 3 Stars
    2
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    6
  • 4 Stars
    0
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    5
  • 4 Stars
    1
  • 3 Stars
    1
  • 2 Stars
    0
  • 1 Stars
    0

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tom moran
  • 28-02-20

Extremely one sided.

Was really interested to listen to this. I do genuinely think we do need to talk about empire. However I think the author has a very anti-British sentiment in her questioning.
Throughout the whole series she fails to mention what these countries were like before Britian had colonised them. For example India was not this unified peaceful country but bands of different states and mini empires.

I particularly found the Somalian girls story of her birth to be laughable. “I was born in a hospital with no lights. The legacy of empire” bearing in mind this was a full 20 years after Britain disbanded this part of the empire. How many hospitals did Somalia have before the British empire?

Another point I must make is when they talk about the horrific causalities that occurred during partition. Which of course was awful, but hearing the author you would think that Britain killed these people in a holocaust like manor, when it fact the victims and perpetrators was all Indian/Pakistani themselves.

I feel that this victim hood agenda/culture that is around us now is just making excuses for other nations own short comings and although we must talk about good and bad this kind of narrative will only divide and create bitterness in Britain today.

We should talk about empire and there were many atrocities that occurred. Most of them at the start on the colonising. Subsequently we should also talk about the lack of war within these nations once the empire was in place as I suppose they all had a common enemy. Lots of these now countries would of not been unified before British rule but would of been micro states and kingdoms.


220 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Alistair
  • 05-03-20

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.

172 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Tony Martin
  • 20-02-20

Massive anti-British Agenda

Most colonies would have been ruled by someone else if not us. We ended slavery.

154 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Ian B. Mckenna
  • 08-03-20

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.

141 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • J L Parkes
  • 06-03-20

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.

98 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • west
  • 25-02-20

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😁

95 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Amazon Customer
  • 16-02-20

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.

70 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Sion
  • 20-03-20

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.

56 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Robert Spence
  • 23-03-20

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 !!

54 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Angus
  • 18-02-20

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!

46 people found this helpful

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 06-04-20

meh.<br />

And by "meh," I most definitely do mean "meh."
The valid & important points being presented are buried in the kind preachy scolding that's anathema to all but rabid sjws. A wasted opportunity.

8 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 20-04-20

A fantastic and thought provoking production

Insightful and poignant, particularly in our current environment. History is written by the 'victors', but it's high time we started telling the stories of those on the other side of history. These are some of those stories. Well worth the listen by anyone, anywhere

2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Rob d bishop
  • 05-06-20

Left wing propaganda

Only worth listening to if you want to experience true delusion. Interesting to see how far they can twist the facts.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 27-05-20

Definitely need to talk about the British Empire!

Very eye opening and engaging! I learned a lot from this series. Has inspired me to research and learn more on my own. Thank you for putting this series together.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 07-04-20

I needed to hear this.

A handful of valuable perspectives that are somewhat rare these days. Thanks for presenting this.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Elizabeth Sceneay
  • 05-06-20

Really engrossing

learnt a lot about empire and it's results on the colonised. Some very sad stories.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Ants32
  • 19-03-20

Out Of Order

Please re-arrange episodes into their correct order.
Otherwise, a very thought provoking podcast.
Thankyou. :)