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Uncommon Wealth

On sale

17th February 2022

Price: £12.99

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Selected: Digital (deliver electronic) / ISBN-13: 9781529338652

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Shortlisted for the Orwell Prize for Political Writing
Longlisted for the British Academy Book Prize for Global Cultural Understanding
A Guardian Book of the Year

‘Brilliantly arranged and rich with fresh insights’ Akala

‘A radical, beautifully written understanding of our history’ Owen Jones

‘You can’t understand how Britain works today without reading it’ Frankie Boyle

‘A challenge to a nation living in the shadow of empire: reckon with your imperial past, or it will come back to bite you’ Grace Blakeley

‘This book should be part of the national curriculum’ Ellie Mae O’Hagan

Britain didn’t just put the empire back the way it had found it.

Uncommon Wealth is the little known and shocking history of how Britain treated its former non-white colonies after the end of empire. It is the story of how an interconnected group of British capitalists enabled horrific inequality across the globe, profiting in colonial Africa, Asia and the Caribbean. However, the greed unleashed in this era would boomerang, now leaving many ordinary Britons wondering where their own prosperity has gone. Ranging from Jamaica to Singapore, Ghana to Britain, this is a blistering account of how buried decisions of decades past are ravaging Britain today.


Samuel Moyn, Yale University
Compelling and masterful . . . Perfectly timed for a moment when more are recognizing that the past is not past, the legacies of empire are profound, and another world is possible
Danny Dorling, University of Oxford
Brilliant, illuminating, often surprising and shocking, Kojo Koram's careful and sensitive telling of the stories that so many of us do not know is a masterpiece
David Dabydeen
An ambitious blend of history, memoir and current affairs - Koram's superb and combative account shows how Britain's near-past can explain its present predicament. A fascinating account of the British Empire written with an exciting blend of passion and scholarship
Professor Richard Drayton, KCL
Uncommon Wealth brilliantly exposes the imperial origins of much of Britain's contemporary crisis. Koram shows how the empire ordered overseas a structure of law, property, economic institutions and citizenship, which came home
Robert Verkaik
By carefully dissecting the economic legacy of the British Empire, Koram has exposed some troubling home truths about the causes and effects of the very unequal world in which we live. A fascinating history, Koram's unique perspective sheds new light on an old problem
Will Davies, Professor of Political Economy, Goldsmiths
A superb and vivid account of the ideas, laws and economic instruments that bind contemporary Britain to its long colonial history
Brilliantly arranged and rich with fresh insights, Uncommon Wealth reminds us how the forgotten stories of empire and decolonisation continue to impact our daily lives in Britain - and throughout the world - up to today.
Quinn Slobodian, author of Globalists
Fantastic. Koram clearly and informatively details the links between the economic dependency imposed on Britain's former colonies after decolonisation and the crisis that 'Global Britain' now finds itself facing
Oscar Guardiola-Rivera, author of What If Latin America Ruled the World?
A tour de force by one of the most brilliant young thinkers writing in Britain today . . . Urgent and relevant
Grace Blakeley
A challenge to a nation living in the shadow of empire: reckon with your imperial past, or it will come back to bite you . . . Stirring, rigorous and readable
Imaobong Umoren, LSE
A bold and brazen account of the economic afterlives of the British Empire
Ellie Mae O'Hagan
Unflinching and lucidly written, Uncommon Wealth challenges everything you thought you knew about the British Empire and its legacy. This book should be part of the national curriculum
Katrina Forrester, Harvard University
A superb account of how Britain's present crisis is intimately intertwined with its imperial past . . . Empire shapes all our lives - whether we acknowledge it or not
Christienna Fryar
A clear-eyed assessment of some of the British Empire's least acknowledged legacies - offshoring, outsourcing, the unchecked sovereignty of corporations - which are now reverberating back on Britain and shredding the social fabric of British life. In the Covid era, this is essential reading
Owen Jones
A radical, beautifully written understanding of our history - ingeniously placing Britain's recent tumult into context
Sujit Sivasundaram, author of Waves Across the South, Winner of the British Academy Book Prize 2021
With lucidity, clarity and global sweep, Koram diagnoses the predicament of today's Britain . . . A vital read
New Statesman
Explores the ricocheting effects of colonialism in Britain, tracing the role of empire - and its disintegration - in the rise of contemporary austerity, inequality, poverty, brutality, corruption, and the cartoon sovereignty of Brexit
Frankie Boyle
You can't understand how Britain works today without reading it
David Edgerton
Uncommon Wealth makes a very powerful argument that today's privatization, outsourcing, and offshoring of finance to tax havens is a boomeranging back to the United Kingdom of policies first imposed on post-colonial nations
Vicky Spratt
Rigorous, urgent and brilliantly written. This book lays bare the human cost - then and now - of Britain's colonial economic history and demands that we never forget it