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Bloody Foreigners [Paperback]

Robert Winder


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Book Description

April 21 2005
Immigration is one of the most important stories of modern British life, yet it has been happening since Caesar first landed in 53 BC. Ever since the first Roman, Saxon, Jute and Dane leaped off a boat we have been a mongrel nation. Our roots are a tangled web. From Huguenot weavers fleeing French Catholic persecution in the 18th century to South African dentists to Indian shopkeepers; from Jews in York in the 12th century (who had to wear a yellow star to distinguish them and who were shamefully expelled by Edward I in 1272) to the Jamaican who came on board the Windrush in 1947. The first Indian MP was elected in 1892, Walter Tull, the first black football player played (for Spurs and Northampton) before WW1 (and died heroically fighting for the allies in the last months of the war); in 1768 there were 20,000 black people in London (out of a population of 600,000 - a similar percentage to today). The 19th century brought huge numbers of Italians, Irish, Jews (from Russia and Poland mainly), Germans and Poles.

This book draws all their stories together in a compelling narrative.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 568 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (April 21 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780349115665
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349115665
  • ASIN: 0349115664
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 19.7 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 440 g
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #519,977 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Robert Winder's totally absorbing and revelatory book could not be more timely (and) indispensable—DAILY MAIL

splendidly researched and subtle history—OBSERVER

a topical, formidable and engaging book which will have - and deserves to have - many readers...a breath of fresh air—SUNDAY TIMES

About the Author

Robert Winder was literary editor of the INDEPENDENT for 5 years. He has written two novels.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant history of immigration into Britain. Aug. 21 2005
By Ralph Blumenau - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
A most impressive book, and beautifully written. Winder traces the story of immigrants into Britain - he deals mainly with England - from pre-Celtic times to the present. As the sources become more plentiful, so the book gathers momentum, and by the time he reaches the time of the Huguenot immigrants in the 17th century, it really begins to sparkle. As he moves from one wave of immigrants to the next, the story - until very recent times - is always the same: initially there is some popular resentment, but, often sooner rather than later, they have been accepted, do well and contribute enormously to the economy and quality of life in these islands. Many people will be aware of the variety of immigrants who have come to Britain; but this is a thorough and systematic account, based on a formidable amount of reading. It could have been a dry catalogue, but the story is captivatingly told: each time Winder explains the circumstances which caused a particular group to arrive, and innumerable stories of individuals are given with great verve and vividness: Huguenots from France; Dutchmen who came with William III; Germans who came with the Hanoverians and who continued to come in the 19th century; black people who originally came as servants and slaves; Italians who left a repressive and over-populated homeland; Irishmen who escaped the famine to work in the factories and on the canals and railways during the Industrial Revolution; Jews who fled from anti-Semitism in Russia and Germany; the Lascars from Asia who manned so many British ships; Greek and Turkish Cypriots who came in large numbers from their war-torn island; men from all over the Empire who had fought for Britain in the First World War; Poles during the Second World War; the Chinese from Hong Kong before the gates were shut to them by the Act of 1997 just before the territory was given up to China; Kenya and Uganda Asians whom Kenyatta and Idi Amin were throwing out. And there were of course the West Indians who came in large numbers during the time when all imperial subjects were given the right of free entry into Britain by the 1948 Nationality Act. That is where the trouble started: the numbers were now such that governments became alarmed, and much of the last third of the book catalogues the desperate but unavailing attempts of governments to stem the flow: from the Commonwealth Immigration Act of 1962 through to the chicaneries, incompetence and bureaucratic insensitivities of what Winder calls "the Asylum madness" from 1996 onwards. Winder leaves it an open question whether the government led or followed public opinion, though he leaves no doubt about the way a hostile public opinion was fanned by the press. It is in any case a disgraceful story, mitigated only by the fact that it was occasionally restrained by impulses of decency, which were also to be found in sections of public opinion. The huge increase in the number of people wanting to come to Britain undoubtedly created genuine problems, but, to give just a few of many examples, few people were aware that the immigrant population was contributing more in tax than it was receiving in benefits; that certain groups like the Indians were producing in proportion more professionals and successful businessmen than did the white population; and that a largely young group of immigrants for whose education Britain had not had to pay would contribute towards supporting the increasing number of pensioners. Winder's indignation about the sour attitudes towards the immigrants - not to mention the many race riots and racially motivated murders - is in no doubt; but he recognizes countervailing sentiments both inside and outside government. The fact remains that Britain remained a magnet for immigration even though the migrants knew what difficulties they would have to face. There are great many shrewd psychological and sociological comments throughout the book, and it ends with a superb and thoughtful chapter of reflections on what a multi-ethnic Britain could and should be like and what indeed in many ways is taking shape already: a Britain in which the question of "ethnic identity" dissolves and the people of Britain can "cohere around a lucid set of individual rights, so that the group to which any man, woman or child belongs is incidental rather than decisive."
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History at it's best July 4 2006
By Mr. James Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I heard Robert Winder on radio 5 and bought the book immediately. I was not disappointed.

I am a great believer in the truth and nothing but the truth. Or scientific correctness. But this type of history can be boring. Winder is anything but, as he traces all of the myriad strains that made Britain great.

I have to declare an interest. My father's family was German Jewish and came to work in the fur trade in London. My mother's was French Hugenote. Both migrations are described in detail. So perhaps it is all personal.

But it is the humour and the anecdotes that make this book. Who'd have thought that the local Captain Mainwaring in Maldon in Essex was an Indian GP? True! And he was so well thought of, that they named a school after him.

Robert Winder is to be congratulated on turning a difficult subject into one that almost has the pace of a thriller. It certainly has the readability.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An expat Englishman's review June 9 2012
By Iain Harding - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
To an expat Englishman undergoing immigration to another country this book is a fascinating perspective.
It is pleasant read and captures your attention.
The layout is done well though more pictures would have been useful.
Having left 23 years ago -the recent update on history provide highly informative
4.0 out of 5 stars Long, Controlled Epic Tale of Immigration to Britain Aug. 25 2013
By Dr. Laurence Raw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
BLOODY FOREIGNERS has an ambitious scope; to tell the story of immigration to Britain from medieval times to the present day. The story is not a pleasant one: what emerges most tangibly from the narrative is the ways in which the imiigrant has been treated as an interloper, a potential 'threat' to established ways of life. Forget the fact that the English as a whole are a composite nation with German, Latin, Saxon, Indian and American roots; they have often seen themselves in essentialist terms as a nation 'standing alone.' This has often proved difficult for immigrants, even those such as the African-Caribbeans, the Indians and (more latterly), those from East Africa, who have been invited in to fill the jobs not filled by native English workers. Sometimes Winder's tale appears to neglect the positive elements; today's Britain is a vibrantly multicultural nation, in which identities are difficult to (re-)construct in binarist or other terms. But nonetheless he should be admired for his efforts in creating such a consistently entertaining piece of work.

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