John Murray has landed a "blistering account" of Britain's treatment of independent countries in its post-imperial years by Kojo Koram.
Joe Zigmond, editorial director, bought world rights to Uncommon Wealth: Britain and the Aftermath of Empire directly from the author. It will be published in February 2022.
The publisher said: "Uncommon Wealth traces the shocking tale of how Britain treated its former non-white colonies after the end of empire. This is the story of an interconnected group of well-heeled British intellectuals, politicians, accountants and lawyers who offshored their capital, seized foreign assets and saddled debt in Britain’s former ‘dependencies’. Enabling horrific inequality across the globe, these ruthless capitalists profited as ordinary people across Britain’s former territories in colonial Africa, Asia and the Caribbean were trapped in poverty. However, the reinforcement of capitalist power also ricocheted back home, unnoticed. Now it has left many Britons wondering where their own sovereignty and prosperity has gone."
Koram is a writer and an academic, teaching at the School of Law at Birkbeck College, University of London. In addition to his academic writing, he has written for the New Statesman, the Guardian, Dissent, the Nation, and the Washington Post and has appeared on CNN and Sky News. He is the editor of The War on Drugs and the Global Colour Line (Pluto).
Koram said: "Recently, there has been a lot of discussion about confronting the legacy of empire in Britain’s cultural institutions, but we have to remember that empire was not just about statues and songs. It was also about trade and economics, about creating wealth for some and impoverishment for others. What happened to the political, legal and economic systems of empire after decolonisation? Were they renounced? Or were some of them reinforced, so much so that they continue to govern our lives up until today?
"In this book, I cover some of the most fascinating stories from the end of the British empire and show how decisions made back then are intimately connected to the inequality and insecurity that many of us are struggling with today. For anyone who assumes that all talk of ‘decolonisation’ is simply another invented culture war about identity, this book is serves as a reminder that there is nothing imaginary about the legacy of empire and its power to decide who owns what."
Zigmond added: "Uncommon Wealth is a blistering account of how Britain rigged the infrastructure of the post-colonial world to maintain its power and bury its colonial memory. From a formidable new thinker and writer of our recent history, Uncommon Wealth is a vivid snapshot of the break up of the British empire, criss-crossing oceans to take in moments of struggle and trace the problems of wealth inequality, privatisation, deregulation and economic insecurity which affect people today, from Lagos to Sunderland."
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