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  • Published: 15 October 2018
  • ISBN: 9780099586951
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $24.99

The Hungry Empire

How Britain's Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World



A mouthwatering journey across the centuries and continents to discover how food drove the British Empire and shaped the world

'A wholly pleasing book, which offers a tasty side dish to anyone exploring the narrative history of the British Empire' Max Hastings, Sunday Times
WINNER OF THE GUILD OF FOOD WRITERS BOOK AWARD 2018

The glamorous daughter of an African chief shares a pineapple with a slave trader. Surveyors in British Columbia eat tinned Australian rabbit. Diamond prospectors in Guyana prepare an iguana curry.

In twenty meals The Hungry Empire tells the story of how the British created a global network of commerce and trade in foodstuffs that moved people and plants from one continent to another, reshaping landscapes and culinary tastes. The Empire allowed Britain to harness the globe's edible resources from cod fish and salt beef to spices, tea and sugar.

Lizzie Collingham takes us on a wide-ranging culinary journey, revealing how virtually every meal we eat still contains a taste of empire.

  • Published: 15 October 2018
  • ISBN: 9780099586951
  • Imprint: Vintage
  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $24.99

About the author

Lizzie Collingham

Lizzie Collingham taught History at Warwick University and was a Research Fellow at Jesus College, Cambridge before becoming an independent historian. Her books include Curry: A Tale of Cooks and Conquerors and The Taste of War: World War II and the Battle for Food. She is currently an Associate Fellow of Warwick University and the Royal Literary Fund Fellow at Newnham College, Cambridge. She recently completed a project researching the history of the kitchens of the Indian President’s palace and regularly lectures on a gastronomic tour of Kerala. She works in a garden shed near Cambridge.

Also by Lizzie Collingham

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Praise for The Hungry Empire

This ingeniously constructed history shows that what we think of as personal appetites have largely been constructed by the machinations of empire. The Hungry Empire uses vivid snapshots of meals to tell the story of how Britain's quest for food drove its imperial ambitions. Collingham takes the reader on a powerful journey ... Like Sidney Mintz or Margaret Visser, Collingham is a historian whose writing about food informs larger stories about human existence: about conflict and culture, about economics and politics. I was dazzled by Collingham's writing and her book also left me very hungry.

Bee Wilson, author of FIRST BITE

Empire has a hidden history: the menu, and how it changed the world. Lizzie Collingham has uncovered an epic that runs from domestic comedy to horror to the startling shifts that brought rice to America, maize to Africa and tea to India, and she makes it absorbing and utterly readable, mixing the huge economic story with exact and fascinating glimpses into past lives. You'll never see a biscuit tin the same way once you know how they were used in the Zulu Wars.

Michael Pye, author of THE EDGE OF THE WORLD

One of the charms of this book is that Collingham includes recipes and menus from many periods and colonies ... This is a wholly pleasing book, which offers a tasty side dish to anyone exploring the narrative history of the British Empire ... it is droll to be reminded how many sought merely a square meal.

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Revelatory ... The Hungry Empire is an original and thought-provoking book and for all the shocking accounts of the consequences of British appetites, a highly entertaining one.

Daisy Goodwin, The Times

Lizzie Collingham's fascinating new book, The Hungry Empire, demonstrates that a cup of tea is never just a cup of tea - it is a history of trade, exchange, land-grab, agricultural innovation and economic change. This is a marvellously wide-ranging and readable book, stuffed with engaging details and startling connections

Lucy Lethbridge, Financial Times

Some of the most revelatory anecdotes are the funniest. As with all her work, Collingham has read most of what matters and has selected from it with a lively eye. She can unwind suggestive strands of evidence to lead readers through the labyrinth. Her brisk narrative of the origins of IPA is exemplary

Felipe Fernández-Armesto, Literary Review

The Hungry Empire is impressively scholarly. it is also fascinating. And although Collingham does not flinch from the cruelties and brutalities of empire, she refrains from the self-congratulatory finger-wagging indulged in by some modern historians

Lewis Jones, Daily Telegraph

An ingenious conceit, well-executed. It allows her to build up the picture of British trade from the beginning, in a pattern of overlays, in which each layer contributes to an increasingly elaborate design, while remaining visible and discrete. The Hungry Empire tells a story of imperial blight. Collingham's indignation rises through the book and is often contagious

Nicola Shulman, Oldie

Fascinating. Collingham's decision to organize her enormously ambitious research around a series of intimate family meals is a good one. Material that would otherwise be numbingly abstract is made profoundly personal. You will certainly enjoy the journey

Kathryn Hughes, Mail on Sunday

[Collingham] takes us on a voyage around twenty meals, opening up the history of our worldwide trade, and how it helped to shape the world ... It's illuminating, fascinating and whilst we're on the subject of food: satisfying. Can I have some more, please

Margaret Graham, Frost

Engrossing, meticulously researched and eye-opening book. Memorable meals across the centuries and continents set the scene for each chapter and recipes are scattered among the fascinating facts

Choice

An energetic and refreshing account of a little considered aspect of British history ... Collingham skillfully provides a full account of complex, even chaotic international connections ... It's hard to think of a more ingenious way of treating imperial history. The range is dazzling. The Hungry Empire, it should be clear, is supported by meticulous historical research. This book's treatment of food in the empire is innovative and exciting; to bring such vibrancy to an old topic is a remarkable achievement

Kwasi Kwarteng, Guardian

Usually it is assumed that Britain's empire appeared and then Britain's food trade-that vast tonnage of tea, flour, sugar, bully beef and Crosse & Blackwell pickle that swept across the seven seas-appeared to feed it. Ms Collingham turns that idea neatly on its head. Paragraphs are as studded with dates and numbers as a plum pudding with raisins. Still, it is hard to mind when many of them are so interesting. And what other book would offer its reader instructions on "how to make the best liquid laudanum"?

The Economist

Joyously delicious.In her original and supremely captivating book, [Collingham] has cleverly recreated the fine details of some 20 meals, consumed for four and a half centuries in a variety of homes and ships and tented encampments far from the motherland.In British terms, she is Henry Mayhew and Mass-Observation rolled into one-a stellar observer of the day-to-day and the mundane, a social historian of extraordinary talent

New York Times Book Review

[Lizzie Collingham is] one of the best, most readable practitioners of the dynamic field of food history.

Maya Jasanoff, The Times Literary Supplement

This is a fascinating and timely study of the far-flung sources of our food supply

Jane Shilling, Daily Mail

After reading this you'll never sit down to dinner without finding a trace of empire in your meal again

Strong Words

A wholly pleasing book, which offers a tasty side dish to anyone exploring the narrative history of the British Empire

Max Hastings, Sunday Times

Revelatory... Original, thought-provoking and highly entertaining

Daisy Goodwin, The Times

Dazzling. This book's treatment of food in the empire is innovative and exciting. A remarkable achievement

Guardian

Fascinating. This is a marvellously wide-ranging and readable book, stuffed with engaging details and startling connections

Financial Times

Joyously delicious.In her original and supremely captivating book, [Collingham] has cleverly recreated the fine details of some 20 meals, consumed for four and a half centuries in a variety of homes and ships and tented encampments far from the motherland.In British terms, she is Henry Mayhew and Mass-Observation rolled into one-a stellar observer of the day-to-day and the mundane, a social historian of extraordinary talent

New York Times Book Review

The Hungry Empire is impressively scholarly. it is also fascinating. And although Collingham does not flinch from the cruelties and brutalities of empire, she refrains from the self-congratulatory finger-wagging indulged in by some modern historians

Daily Telegraph

Some of the most revelatory anecdotes are the funniest. As with all her work, Collingham has read most of what matters and has selected from it with a lively eye. She can unwind suggestive strands of evidence to lead readers through the labyrinth. Her brisk narrative of the origins of IPA is exemplary

Literary Review

Fascinating. Collingham's decision to organize her enormously ambitious research around a series of intimate family meals is a good one. Material that would otherwise be numbingly abstract is made profoundly personal. You will certainly enjoy the journey

Mail on Sunday

One of the best, most readable practitioners of the dynamic field of food history

Times Literary Supplement

This ingeniously constructed history shows that what we think of as personal appetites have largely been constructed by the machinations of empire. The Hungry Empire uses vivid snapshots of meals to tell the story of how Britain's quest for food drove its imperial ambitions. Collingham takes the reader on a powerful journey ... Like Sidney Mintz or Margaret Visser, Collingham is a historian whose writing about food informs larger stories about human existence: about conflict and culture, about economics and politics. I was dazzled by Collingham's writing and her book also left me very hungry

Bee Wilson, author of FIRST BITE

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