A major new history of Britain that transforms our understanding of this country’s past
‘I’ve waited so long so read a comprehensively researched book about Black history on this island. This is it: a journey of discovery and a truly exciting and important work’ Zainab Abbas
Despite the best efforts of researchers and campaigners, there remains today a steadfast tendency to reduce the history of African and Caribbean people in Britain to a simple story: it is one that begins in 1948 with the arrival of a single ship, the Empire Windrush, and continues mostly apart from a distinct British history, overlapping only on occasion amid grotesque injustice or pioneering protest.
Yet, as acclaimed historian Hakim Adi demonstrates, from the very beginning, from the moment humans first stood on this rainy isle, there have been African and Caribbean men and women set at Britain’s heart. Libyan legionaries patrolled Hadrian’s Wall while Rome’s first ‘African Emperor’ died in York. In Elizabethan England, ‘Black Tudors’ served in the land’s most eminent households while intrepid African explorers helped Sir Francis Drake to circumnavigate the globe. And, as Britain became a major colonial and commercial power, it was African and Caribbean people who led the radical struggle for freedom – a struggle which raged throughout the twentieth century and continues today in Black Lives Matter campaigns.
Charting a course through British history with an unobscured view of the actions of African and Caribbean people, Adi reveals how much our greatest collective achievements – universal suffrage, our victory over fascism, the forging of the NHS – owe to these men and women, and how, in understanding our history in these terms, we are more able to fully understand our present moment.