Many years ago, Tony Blair said-in a speech delivered in 1997- that he valued and honoured the British history enormously, and added that the British empire should not be the cause of apology.
After reading Richard Gott's book on the history of the British Empire, one must be a complete fool in order to agree with Blair's words.
To put it in other words, one can easily conclude that the British empire was one of evil, one which conducted a systematic policy of extermination, one which promoted the use of blood in subjugating and annihilating other peoples. Another claim made in one of his books by the eminent historian Neill Fergusson, in which he said that the British empite brought the benefits of democracy and free trade in Asia and Africa, can only sound preposterous.
Gott's book, which contains 66 chapters, is actually a tome which constitutes a catalogue of crimes. These include murder, famines, starvation, brutal policies, mutinies, extermination policies and many more alike-all courtesy of the Brtish empire perpetuated by its various figures both political and military. To quote from the author's Introduction: " Not a year went by without the inhabitants of the Empire being obliged to suffer involuntary participation in the colonial experience. The Empire was the fruit of military conquest and of brutal wars involving physical and cultural extermination. It is the belief that Britain's imperial experience ranks more closely with the exploits of Genghiz Khan ot Attila the Hun than with those of Alexander the Great. It is sugggested that the rulers of the British Empire will one day be perceived to rank with the dictators of the twentieth century as the authors of crimes against humanity on an infamous scale".
Take, for instance, the slaughter of the Aboriginal inhabitants on the island of Tasmania, which started almost on the first day of the settlement, in 1803, while the fierce repression of convicts held in the colony on New South Wales, mostly prisoners from the Irish revolt of 1798 provoked rebellion in 1802 and 1804. Or the harsh treatment of sepoy mutineers in the eighteenth century, who were executed by the method of cannonading, meaning they were to be shot by blowing off the bodies from cannons.
These crimes were committed in Australia, Asia, Africa and in the the Western Hemisphere from 1750 onwards. All thse places felt the British policy of wholesale slaughter of indigenous
peoples, repression and brutal destruction. The use of more advanced technological means was encouraged by the beginning of the twentieth century in order to continue the horrors of the past.
Unfortunately, the book's scope is limited only to the middle of the nineteenth century. Had Mr. Gott written some more chapters which would describe the wholesale extermination policies from 1870 to the final days of the demise of this evil empire, we could have had a broader spectrum of the British crimes. In any case, this book should stand on the shelf of each person who cares about humanity and who deplores the crimes described in this frightening yet essentially honest and courageous book.