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Akala Recommends His Top 5 Reads of 2019

Posted on 9th December 2019 by Mark Skinner

Rapper, author, poet, activist; Akala is a man of many talents and with Natives, his searing polemic on racial identity in Britain and the blighted legacy of empire, he provided one of the breakout papberbacks of the year. Below, he shares the books that have inspired and entertained him in 2019.  

Insurgent Empire by Priyamvada Gopal

Not only a necessary but a meticulously researched account of how anti-colonial resistance to the British Empire shaped the ideas and actions of British intellectuals, politicians, activists and ultimately the public at large and the course of the nation’s history. You’ll never look at British history the same way once you’ve read it.

£25.00
Hardback
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Upsets received views to show how rebellious colonies changed British attitudes to empire Much has been written on the how colonial subjects took up British and European ideas and turned them against empire when making claims to freedom and self-determination. The possibility of reverse influence has been largely overlooked. Insurgent Empire shows ...
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The Anarchy by William Dalrymple

As scholarly as you could hope for a book to be, yet not bogged down by its academic weight, nor by dry prose. This highly readable history of the rise of the East India company shows us what we all already knew, that beneath all of that nonsense about civilizing the natives was one thing, well two things, well maybe three; greed, loot and violence. But it is also the fascinating story of arguably the world’s first mega-corporation, the largest public bailout until the other day and a million nuggets of detail, with a brilliant cast of characters.

£30.00
Hardback
Out of stock
A riveting history of the East India Company, a private enterprise that became a de facto colonial power, the great William Dalrymple’s latest book thrills to the high drama of imperial expansion and conquest through trade. The Anarchy is also a cautionary tale about the dangers of unregulated corporate greed, that reads like a pulsating historical thriller.

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Freedom by James Walvin

I’ve long been a fan of Walvin’s work and this book picks up on and brings together many threads that he has written on brilliantly elsewhere. The central argument is simple enough; enslaved people played a central role in the abolition of slavery. For anybody looking for a one volume overview of why that is obviously and undeniably true, as well as a great story of the about the strength of the human spirit in the face of unimaginable odds, this is your book.

£20.00 £10.00
Hardback
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'Long before the friends of African freedom began to agitate for black freedom, the enslaved themselves had created their own strategies of resistance. In time, their defiance was to prove the crucial final factor in bringing down slavery itself.' James Walvin, in Freedom
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Fire and Blood by George R.R. Martin

What can I say, who is not a Game of Thrones fan? (We’ll all just act like season 8 didn’t happen) Here Martin just keeps giving with a history of Westeros 300 years before the era in which game of thrones is set. The fact that it reads like a history book but with the added flair of a master novelist makes it all the better and more convincing.

£25.00
Hardback
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The first in a two-volume history like no other, stunningly illustrated throughout by Doug Wheatley. Welcome to the furious power of the last dragonlords and the bloodied chronicles of the Targaryens.
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Pan's Labyrinth by Guillermo del Toro and Cornelia Funke

Absolutely beautiful, expands the universe of the classic film but could easily stand alone as a great book of short stories, of fantasy or myth. Dark, creepy, twisted and poetic. I loved it.

£16.99
Hardback
Out of stock
Del Toro’s 2006 movie seamlessly blended gothic horror, historical drama and psychological thriller into one unforgettable whole, and this novelisation - a collaboration with the great children’s author of the Inkheart series - pulls off exactly the same trick. Darkly fantastical and richly rewarding, Pan’s Labyrinth is an exquisitely produced book to treasure forever.

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