Empire: The British Imperial Experience From 1765 To The Present

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9780465019540: Empire: The British Imperial Experience From 1765 To The Present

The British Empire radically altered the modern world. At its height, it governed over a quarter of the human race and encompassed more than a fifth of the globe. As well as providing the British people with profits and a sense of international purpose, the Empire afforded them the opportunity to create new lives for themselves through emigration and settlement. It supplied jobs at home and overseas, encouraged national aggrandizement, and allowed experiments in social engineering. For those it ruled over, the Empire often represented arbitrary power, gunboat diplomacy, and the disruption of local customs, social structures, and government by a distant and sometimes coldly unsympathetic administration. Yet while the Empire rested ultimately upon military force and direct rule, it also pulsated with ideals ideals of freedom, democracy, and even equality.In this impressively researched and always entertaining book, the esteemed British historian Denis Judd analyzes the imperial experience from the American revolution to the present day. He examines the ways in which the British Empire affected both rulers and ruled, and the roles of significant personalities from Queen Victoria to Nelson Mandela, Cecil Rhodes to Jomo Kenyatta, Joseph Chamberlain to Mahatma GhandiWhat was so special about the ”special relationship” between Britain and the United States? Did the maintenance of the Empire artificially prolong Britain's Great Power status? Did it encourage chauvinistic, even racist, attitudes? Were subjects better off under their own elites and leaders than under British rule? In the end, what does the balance sheet of the Empire look like?The story of Empire is central to Britain's national mythology and its sense of place in the world, and essential to an understanding of its changing role as we approach the end of the millennium. Denis Judd's fine, magisterial history does full justice to a complex and epic theme.

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Review:

By the middle of the 18th century, writes English historian Denis Judd, the British empire extended around the world, so that truly, as the adage had it, the sun never set on it. Yet within years that empire began to unravel, beginning with the loss of the American colonies. (The colonies, Judd opines, were not as badly treated by the crown as they professed to have been). He examines the battles, stratagems, and intrigues that helped extend British rule so far afield, drawing into his account the contributions of the great men and women of imperial history as well as the not so great ones. The latter group, in Judd's view, misjudged the tides of popular sentiment and lost the crown many friends through violence and reaction. The historian closes his study with the election of Nelson Mandela to the presidency of South Africa, and with the arguable observation that the British did their best in governing their far-flung holdings.

About the Author:

Denis Judd is a professor of British Imperial and Commonwealth History at the University of North London, and is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society. Among his publications are Balfour and the British Empire, Radical Joe: A Life of Joseph Chamberlain, The Victorian Empire, Lord Reading, The Boer War, Someone Has Blundered, Palmerston, The British Raj, Jawaharlal Nehru, and, with Peter Slinn, The Evolution of the Modern Commonwealth.

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Denis Judd
Editorial: Basic Books (1998)
ISBN 10: 0465019544 ISBN 13: 9780465019540
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