Empireworld review: A conversation-changing look at the British Empire’s legacy

From the layout of New Delhi and the former sugar plantation houses on Barbados, to the bitter legacy of indentured labour in Mauritius and Kew Gardens’ greenhouse (which played “a central role” in “changing the shape of the planet”), Sanghera travels the world in pursuit of his subject. This also lends the book a strange quality, for it is a mix of travelogue, memoir, newspaper column and serious historical work. We’re with him as he fires off texts, relaxes by the pool, and then writes powerfully “the British Empire was the single most significant incubator, refiner and propagator of white supremacy in the history of the planet”. Yet despite the mêlée of facts and the discursive style it is not hard to locate Sanghera’s central aim: “It’s time to turn Britain’s hoary old monologue on the British Empire into a real dialogue” — and listen to the countries and peoples it affected. The Caricom group of Caribbean countries is reportedly seeking $33 trillion in reparations from Britain, France and Spain.