Monday 14 October 2013



Britain is complicit in the deaths of ten million people.

These are Unpeople - those whose lives are seen as expendable in the pursuit of Britain's economic and political goals.

In Unpeople, Mark Curtis shows that the Blair government is deepening its support for many states promoting terrorism and, using evidence unearthed from formerly secret documents, reveals for the first time the hidden history of unethical British policies, including: support for the massacres in Iraq in 1963; the extraordinary private backing of the US in its aggression against Vietnam; support for the rise of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin; the running of a covert 'dirty war' in Yemen in the 1960s; secret campaigns with the US to overthrow the governments of Indonesia and British Guiana; the welcoming of General Pinochet's brutal coup in Chile in 1973; and much more.

This explosive new book, from the author of Web of Deceit, exposes the reality of the Blair government's foreign policies since the invasion of Iraq. It discloses government documents showing that Britain's military is poised for a new phase of global intervention with the US, and reveals the extraordinary propaganda campaigns being mounted to obscure the reality of policies from the public.

Whilst my main reading interests lie firmly in crime fiction, I do like to read a bit of non-fiction now away, whether it’s memoirs, history, politics or social commentary. Last year I read about 13 non-fiction books, this year Unpeople was only the second after Dominic Streatfeild’s Cocaine back in January. Unpeople has been in the car for months and months now, and probably due to the subject matter didn’t really lend itself to dipping in and dipping out whenever I had those 10 spare minutes while waiting for my better half to finish work or during a waiting period on my Taxi-Dad duties.

In the end irritated by the lack of progress with the book, I decided to just get stuck in and read it. I’m not too interested in spouting my political views or engaging in a debate over successive British government’s foreign policies, I‘d rather chat about whether or not I should read a few Golden Age Mysteries or stick to my current diet of crime.

Unpeople was interesting enough. There were some examples of some British policies and interventions that occurred in the post-war years that I was unaware of. More recent examples, such as Iraq and Afghanistan; well you would probably have to be living in a cave in Pakistan to remain unaware of these.

The author obviously has an agenda and whilst all his examples are supported by the evidence presented, after a while it just wearied me. Governments do awful things in the name of national interest and security and it would be difficult to consider some of the policies discussed objectively and condone the actions taken. Would the world be a different place if different decisions and policies had been made and followed? Would the death toll have been less in Iraq, in Chile, in Nigeria or in Uganda? Maybe.

I suppose the saddest fact is that so much of what is decided goes unnoticed or unchallenged with little debate in parliament or by the press. Iraq probably being the exception. I’m probably a little bit more naive than I had previously reckoned, unaware of the regularity with which Prime Ministers lied to the House of Commons.

When I was younger, I used to think that voting for one party or another made a difference; Unpeople confirms my latter-acquired cynicism that there is little to choose between the parties at least in respect of foreign policy. Government has decided that a life in Africa, or Asia or South America has less value than big business. and the balance of payments.  

Unpeople rated a 3 from 5.

Acquired second hand from a local charity shop earlier in the year.    



  1. Col - This certainly sounds like a fascinating look at government and business priorities. If it's any comfort, it doesn't just apply in the UK...

    1. Margot, yes, the US didn't get off scot-free in Curtis's analysis. Partners in "crime!"

  2. Interesting book, but it would not be a fun read. I agree it doesn't matter much who you vote for... or at least that I have lost my confidence in politicians at high state and federal levels. But here in the U.S., I still feel it is important to vote against a party that stands for policies that I cannot condone. Like you, I would prefer not to discuss politics. For me, it is to polarizing and depressing. I enjoy reading mysteries that lean in the direction of my politics, but that doesn't happen often. Usually mystery writers don't want to divide their audience either.

    1. Tracy, politics = depressing agreed. I'll still vote, but feel that there is little real choice in reality. Conscience wouldn't allow me to vote for one particular party over here.

  3. Oh dear - sometimes you just end up depressing yourself don't you? At least you read it. Now back to the fictional crimes.... (I'm waiting agog for Jerry Tracy, Celebrity Reporter, it looks terrific.)

    1. Moira, it wasn't a happy read that's for sure, Interesting, educational.......and depressing. I'm enjoying Jerry Tracy, but it's a bit of a marathon read as opposed to a shortish sprint (1000+ pages) .......patience required!