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This month’s best historical books

The Hungry Empire: How Britain’s Quest for Food Shaped the Modern World

Bodley Head, £25, hardback, 400 pages


As the recent success of the film Victoria and Abdul again demonstrates, the British Empire remains a compelling – and controversial – subject. If you’re put off by what can be a huge, unwieldy subject, Lizzie Collingham here offers a compelling new take: telling the story of empire through its food.

Structured around 20 different dishes, from a fish dish on the Mary Rose to rum punch in Boston, her book shows how Britain’s global networks forever altered nations and diets alike. Certain themes (power, class, the exploitation of resources and people) and foodstuffs (beef, stew, tea) emerge again and again, revealing trends and tastes that linger even today in the 21st century.

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About BBC History Revealed Magazine

This is the December 2017 issue of History Revealed.