More Fun Facts about the Good Old Days, so beloved of Max Boot, Niall Ferguson, and their ilk. Lenin writes
Yesterday I opened up a book just out in paperback called Britain's Gulag by Caroline Elkins. It details how in the dying days of the British Empire, the Kikuyu people of Kenya began to rise up in armed rebellion. In response, Britain detained almost the entire population (of one and a half million people!), either by placing them in concentration camps (the British called them 'reception pens') or by ring-fencing their villages with barbed wire. Perhaps over a hundred thousand detainees died - from starvation, disease, beatings and so forth. Vast purges were launched, especially during Operation Anvil, which saw almost the entire Kikuyu population driven from Nairobi, the capital. The brutality was astonishing, and terror was a tool widely used to control and intimidate: one woman describes how she was attacked in her house by a group of British soldiers, who informed her that they'd just killed her husband. Then they started to hammer her with the butts of their guns, shoving her from one person to the next. Her two year old child, hearing her scream, clambered out of his bed, between the legs of the soldiers and tried to cling to his mother's ankles. The woman was told she was being given the independence her husband had set out to get. The child was being trampled. When at long last she had been beaten numb and dragged out of the house, she remembered that the last thing she saw was her son's dead body on the floor of her house.