How to Be a Patriot

Why love of country can end our very British culture war


How do we define patriotism in a diverse society?

What divides us and what brings us together?

Why do we feel uncomfortable celebrating our country’s history?

How to be a Patriot offers a new way of understanding our collective identity in a country wracked by division and brimming with markers of selfhood – faith, race, gender, age, sexuality.

Sunder Katwala himself grew up with some questions to work through. As a half-Indian, Irish Catholic child of the NHS, the chequered history of post-imperial Britain seemed very personal to him, but he realised that with that background he could hardly be anything but British, and proud of it too.

His timely and clear-eyed analysis seeks to navigate the many crises of this increasingly disunited kingdom: extremism and integration after 7/7; fear of immigration and the deep divides of Brexit; the resurgence of online racism; and the debate over our cultural heritage. Equipped with a nuanced understanding of the subject and a wealth of supporting data, he sets out to foster a more open and tolerant society: one that welcomes alternative ideas and cultures rather than shutting them out.

Ultimately, How to be a Patriot is a rousing story of lives lived together and shared values. Far from being divisive, it concludes, an inclusive and confident patriotism is a reminder that our differences need not define us.


‘Excellent. Katwala is an elegant and exuberant writer. This lovely book is both polemic and user’s manual.’ The Spectator

‘Eloquent and engaging.’ TLS

‘A really great read about how we can have an open and inclusive patriotism.’ Baroness Sayeeda Warsi

‘Really, really thought-provoking and nuanced. I suggest that anyone with an interest in the future of this country should read it.’ Nihal Arthanayake

‘Well-written, thought-provoking and insightful in its analysis, How to Be a Patriot is essential reading.’ Nick Thomas-Symonds

‘This important book is predominantly about searching for common ground.’ Eric Kaufmann, Literary Review

‘Fantastic. I’ve been waiting for a Sunder Katwala book.’ Geoff Lloyd, Reasons to be Cheerful

'Calm, sensible, and challenging. Sunder shows that a more united, more tolerant Britain is possible, but that it it needs to be created.' Joel Budd, The Economist

‘Ever my go-to guy when trying to make sense of this ferociously polarised issue.’ Tom Holland

‘Sunder Katwala has helped to lead the public conversation on national identity.' David Lammy MP

‘There are few better judges of the state of the national debate. Landmark.’ Daniel Finkelstein

‘Wide ranging, wise and humane. Fizzing with energy, ideas and passion.’ Rob Ford, author of Brexitland

‘Deeply persuasive. … Katwala deals with reality rather than caricatures.’ Jewish Chronicle

‘Compelling and passionate. Truly insightful.’ Bobby Duffy, author of The Generation Divide

‘Excellent, thought-provoking and wise.’ Colin Yeo, author of Welcome to Britain

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