Ian Cobain’s disturbing history of Britain’s pioneering use of torture, ‘Cruel Brittania – A Secret History Of Torture’, is one of those must-read accounts for anyone who wants to know how and why America ended up waterboarding Muslims in secret jails. Answer: the British showed them the way.
The dirty truth is that there wasn’t a trick in the American playbook that was not acquired from the British, from the techniques of torture, through to secret rendition, the use of proxy torturers and the lies employed to cover it all up – all refined years if not decades before 9/11.
Read this book and not only will you realise that much of the history you learned at school was bunkum but you will also know why Tony Blair must stand trial at the Hague for war crimes. Yet somehow the British have managed to cultivate the quite opposite image, that Englishmen are gentlemen and they do not torture. Cobain shows they have and do and are possibly the world’s experts.
Cobain, a Guardian reporter, was published by Portobello Books which created a wonderful video to publicise the book. Here is that video followed by a filmed discussion of the book featuring the author and three experts in the field.