The History Thieves

Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation

Ian Cobain author


Publisher:Granta Books

Published:6th Jul '17


Available to order, but very limited on stock - if we have issues obtaining a copy, we will let you know.

The History Thieves cover

A revelatory book exposing the culture of concealment at the heart of the British government, from the award-winning author of Cruel Britannia

'As British official records are still "going missing", the significance of Cobain's work only increases' David Olusoga, author of Black and British 'In an astonishing book, the writer Ian Cobain reveals the mass destruction of records and archives, and the false memory it has left us with' Andrew Marr In 1889, the first Official Secrets Act was passed. Since then a culture of secrecy has flourished. As successive governments have been selective about what they choose to share with the public, we have been left with a distorted and incomplete understanding not only of the workings of the state but of our nation's culture and its past. Ian Cobain reveals how key moments in British history since the end of WWII have been manipulated by these official secrets. We follow the decades-long attempts to conceal the existence of Bletchley Park and its successor, GCHQ. We learn how a series of astonishing wars were fought during the 1960s and 1970s remained unreported. He also tells of the government's hidden links with terrorist cells during the Troubles, and reveals the state's peacetime surveillance techniques, not to mention its cynical manipulation of the criminal justice system and 'freedom of information'. Drawing on previously unseen material and rigorous research, The History Thieves is a gripping story of how a complex bureaucratic machine has been created by the British state, allowing governments to evade accountability and bury their secrets. 'An engrossing account of how government officials burned the records of imperial rule as the British empire came to an end' Book of the Week, Guardian 'An important book which deserves to change the way we see our recent past...' Daily Mail

This important and highly readable book proves that, in a so-called age of transparency, official secrecy is actually increasing - in government and the armed forces, in the courts and in Whitehall and the Security Services. Censorship is often imposed to hide embarrassment, but also to prevent accountability for malfeasance and illegality, and to distort deliberately the historical record. There is a new establishment at work, and it preens itself just like the old, possessing the power to suppress. Our only weapon against those Orwell used to call "the striped-trousered ones who rule" is to expose and deride them - a job Ian Cobain does most effectively -- Geoffrey Robertson QC
A meticulously researched, eye-opening triumph. Essential reading in the age of Snowden and Assange -- Charles Cumming, author * A Divided Spy *
Cobain's excellent book exposes the single most significant catastrophe of the 'War on Terror'. While the rebirth of torture has grabbed many headlines, the most dangerous fruit of the atmosphere of fear has been an industry of secrecy. Cobain teaches us both the history of this secretive snooping, and how it imperils us all today -- Clive Stafford Smith
As one would expect from the pen of an experienced investigative journalist, this is a "good read", thought-provoking throughout, frequently shocking, but sometimes amusing in its exploration of the more bizarre attempts of the powers to keep us in the dark... Cobain's book, I think, will open many eyes -- Mandy Banton * Commonwealth Journal of International Affairs *
As British official records are still "going missing", the significance of Cobain's work only increases -- David Olusoga * Guardian *

ISBN: 9781846275852

Dimensions: 198mm x 129mm x 22mm

Weight: 258g

368 pages