Michael Burleigh

Setting of the Blood-Dimmed Sun

Imperial Endgame: Britain’s Dirty Wars and the End of Empire

By

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Postwar Italian governments avoided war-crimes trials for atrocities in Ethiopia or Libya simply by preventing historians from examining the relevant documents in the Ministry of Defence. This sleight of hand is not restricted to a nation in which being furba (crafty) is considered a virtue. This April, the British government decided to ‘regularise’ 2,000 boxes of Foreign and Commonwealth Office files occupying some 110 feet of shelving in an obscure repository. These documents were ‘released’ – to use plain English – because some of their contents were about to be made public, due to court orders in a compensation case brought by four elderly Kenyans who claim they were grievously tortured during the Mau Mau emergency.

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