Spoils of War: The Treasures, Trophies and Trivia of the British Empire


Over the last seven hundred years the United Kingdom has acquired a staggering array of treasures as a direct result of its military activities – from Joan of Arc’s ring to the Rock of Gibraltar to Hitler’s desk. Spoils of War describes these spoils and how they came to be acquired as well as telling the tales of some of the extraordinary (and extraordinarily incompetent) men and women, now mostly forgotten, who had a hand in the rise and fall of the British Empire. Along the way the book debunks a significant number of myths, exposes a major fraud perpetrated on a leading London museum, reveals previously unknown spoils of war and casts light on some very dark corners of Britain’s military history.

Christopher Joll’s original and entertaining book focuses on some of the remarkable spoils of war seized during the age of empire by British soldiers, sailors and airmen. Each of these tangible trophies of victory, ranging from the priceless to the valueless, has a story which Joll recounts – and sometimes debunks - with style, humour and insight.
— Michael Portillo, broadcaster and former Secretary of State for Defence 
Wars come and go, battlefields grow over, memories fade. But the objects that were seized – the trophies from the conquered - remain as pulsating  testaments to the epic and tragic events that surrounded them. Christopher Joll has a magpie’s eye for a story, combined with the dogged research skills to sniff out and solve mysteries. No one is better equipped to ignite history in this tangible and novel way –  objects steeped in glory, pathos and mystery that he brings back to life with the touch paper of his enthusiasm and insight.
— Philip Mould, presenter, Antiques Roadshow and Fake or Fortune?