- Paperback: 448 pages
- Publisher: Penguin; New Ed edition (1 Dec. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141007540
- ISBN-13: 978-0141007540
- Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 2.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (143 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 4,196 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World Paperback – 1 Dec 2004
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More About the Author
Niall Ferguson's compelling tour de force, Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World is published to coincide with a Channel 4 TV series. Ferguson, author of The Pity of War and The Cash Nexus, does not so much provide a synoptic survey of the British empire since the 17th century, as an arresting argument about why it arose, and how it fell. Ferguson's emphasis throughout is on the pursuit of economic profit and military might.
Piracy overseas and a taste for sugar and spice at home, combined with an unerring ability to vanquish rival European powers such as the Dutch and French in the dash for stash and status across the globe. But Ferguson is also alive to the peculiarities of British dominion: the manly and Christian civil service--less than a thousand strong--who ruled India, missionaries such as Livingstone, who explored and mapped as they preached and the barons of empire--Rhodes, Curzon, and Kitchener--who found in empire an outlet for their homoeroticism.
The book is brilliant and persuasive on trade and buccaneering before 1750, on India, on the late Victorian imperial mentalité, and on the two world wars, but less convincing on the empire of white settlement, and strangely silent on the most difficult colony of all, Ireland. In the end, Ferguson's penchant for polemic gets the upper-hand--the book closes with a controversial balance-sheet of the gains and losses of the British imperial experience--but he provides a riveting read nonetheless. --Miles Taylor --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Dazzling ... wonderfully readable (New York Review of Books)
A remarkably readable précis of the whole British imperial story - triumphs, deceits, decencies, kindnesses, cruelties and all (Jan Morris)
Thrilling ... an extraordinary story (Daily Mail)
Empire is a pleasure to read and brims with insights and intelligence (Sunday Times)
The most brilliant British historian of his generation ... Ferguson examines the roles of 'pirates, planters, missionaries, mandarins, bankers and bankrupts' in the creation of history's largest empire ... he writes with splendid panache ... and a seemingly effortless, debonair wit (Andrew Roberts)
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In December 1663 a Welshman called Henry Morgan sailed five hundred miles across the Caribbean to mount a spectacular raid on a Spanish outpost called Gran Grenada, to the north of Lago de Nicaragua. Read the first page
Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Top Customer Reviews
This doesn't mean that Ferguson glosses over or excuses the bad points of the Empire. There is a lot in here that is shocking.
I have only one criticism of this book. Ferguson loves to quote people or texts but he never gives references! This is unforgivable in a history book, even a "popular" one.
The book's early premise is that Empire was not pre-planned, coming about initially from the activities of pirates in the Caribbean, leading to traders and adventures and the mass emigration of white settlers to America, Australia and New Zealand. By Victorian times the Empire had become a burden costing too much to administer, in fact Britain was exporting more capital into the Empire than was being taken out
In the section on the American War Of Independence, which Ferguson points out was a civil war, the book warns against the history produced by Hollywood. As well as explaining how it really was, he shatters some myths. The Boston Tea Party was made up of smugglers gangs enraged that the tax on tea had been reduced. A quarter of the population fought on the side of Britain and when the war had ended 100,000 Americans moved to Canada rather than live in a country independent of Britain. These are only some of the issues which point to the American colonies being more loyal to Britain, and the colonists better treated, than some may have previously thought.
Quite a large proportion of the book is taken up with India. Ferguson explains how the East India Company first edged into the sub-continent for purposes of trade and how this eventually, through competition with the Dutch and war with the French, turned into control of the country.Read more ›
This an interesting book,it is well written,and throws up areas that will encourage further research.
The subject of this book, one of his best - and they're all good - is a new historical examination of the British Empire. The full title is 'The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power' which indicates the author's ambition. Ferguson argues convincingly that between about 1750 and 1945, and expecially so in the 1800s, this unique institution which brought together a quarter of the world's population and spanned every continent was 'the nearest thing Planet Earth has ever had to a global government.' This he sees, overall, as A Good Thing, so firmly places himself amongst modern thinkers in the 'controversial' camp.
It has been claimed that the British acquired their enormous global Empire 'in a fit of absence of mind' and though Ferguson does not agree with this memorable line he does illustrate with some humour that there was never any intention to end up owning 25% of the world. In the 1500s and 1600s the Brits just didn't want to be marginalised into a second-rate power by the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Dutch who at that time were striding the globe and claiming vast areas of land in the Caribbean, the Americas and the East Indies. the Brits were Johnny-come-lately and almost got left behind, initially resorting to piracy on the Spanish to try and claim a small piece of the action.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Author writes with pace and depth, which is a heck of a skill. Learnt so much including the resilience of the boers.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
It took me a while to read this book, but I found it very informative and an excellent readPublished 1 month ago by Michael King
Top notch history writing, 'Empire' is worthy of the many 5-star reviews it continues to garner.Published 3 months ago by an acquaintance
This is the 3rd of Niall Ferguson’s books I have read and by far the least enjoyable. The subject has been tackled sequentially within region, almost, as no one segment can jump... Read morePublished 3 months ago by EKO8
One of the best books I've ever read and definitely the best history book I've ever read. It manages to be be brief (covering hundreds of years in under 400 pages) yet brilliantly... Read morePublished 5 months ago by Stephen Palfreyman
Ferguson is never dull: he is capable of extraordinary insights. I think that he convincingly proves his thesis about Britain shaping the modern world. Read morePublished 7 months ago by David W. Bisset
Interesting look at the empire from a different perceptive. Though he likes to be controversial he often produces interesting and thought provoking books and TV shows and this no... Read morePublished 8 months ago by Paul