With the recent 60th anniversaries of the independence of India and Pakistan, now seems like a good time to look back at the history of the British Empire in the company of Anton Gill's major work.

Over hundreds of years, quite a large wedge of the planet became part of the vast empire. In the second half of the last century, Britain handed back 64 countries comprising of half a billion people. Many subsequently made the journey to Britain and it is now home to 2.3m British Asians and over half a million people from the Caribbean.

Published to tie in with a recent Channel 4 television series, 'Empire's Children' features the personal family stories of six public figures. Politician David Steel, comedienne Jenny Éclair, and actors Diana Rigg, Christopher Bisson, Adrian Lester and Shobna Gulati find themselves on private journeys to Africa, Asia and the Caribbean.

Each subject delves into their own heritage to find out how and why their parents and grandparents had left their homeland to go to Britain. Few of them knew much about their ancestral homeland, but they clearly wallowed in the nostalgia.

'Empire's Children' contains plenty of historical photographs both from the six interviewees and of public events, the best of which may be one of the Mountbattens (Lord Louis and Edwina) and Gandhi, both dressed according to their respective cultures.

A great insight into the pitfalls and obstacles former subjects faced when they integrated themselves into British life.

Mark Cummins