Bernard Porter

Bernard Porter’s recent books include Imperial Britain: What the Empire Wasn’t and Empire Ways. He lives in Stockholm.

From The Blog
10 June 2020

Well, that was a disappointment. For the last couple of weeks, Swedes have been waiting for the results of a new police inquiry into the assassination of Olof Palme in a side street in Stockholm 34 years ago. Even by the standards of political assassinations, Palme’s murder has been more puzzling than most, and more controversial.

Send more blondes: Spies in the Congo

Bernard Porter, 20 October 2016

No one asked the Congolese whether the Americans could take over their treasure to make the most terrifying and destructive weapon the world had seen, and then feed the American appetite for hegemony. They weren’t told of the Congolese component of the Hiroshima bomb until 17 years later. Then they got mad. ‘Bang! What a shock,’ Albert Makelele wrote. ‘A Belgian … stole Congo uranium … which went into a bomb.’

Who was the enemy? Gallipoli

Bernard Porter, 21 May 2015

From the time​ of the Crusades onwards, Western military interventions in the Near and Middle East have nearly all been disastrous; in the long run – just look at Iraq today – but usually in the short term too. The Gallipoli adventure of 1915, a disaster in every way, was dreamed up after Turkey sided with Germany in the Great War. Churchill’s cunning plan was to cut...

How bad are we? Genocide in Tasmania

Bernard Porter, 31 July 2014

It’s​ well known now that contact with British settlers in the early 19th century led to the extinction of the native Tasmanians; it was pretty well known at the time too. But much about that extinction is obscure, including the numbers involved: most estimates suggest that in 1803 between five and ten thousand aborigines lived on the island, and that by 1876 there were none –...

T.E. Lawrence was one of history’s winners and one of its great losers. He was a winner in terms of the mythology that surrounded his reputation both in his own day and afterwards, as reflected in the 1962 David Lean biopic, presenting him as the romantic hero – tall, blue-eyed, in flowing robes – he always wanted to be. His failures are familiar to anyone who has taken any...

‘Those​ who make many species are the “splitters” and those who make few are the “lumpers”,’ Charles Darwin wrote in 1857 to his friend, the great botanist...

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