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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) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
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 2 days 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 1 month 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 3 months ago by Paul
The corner of the book was crumpled despite being described as new.Published 5 months ago by James Newman
Ferguson makes a persuasive case for the British Empire's role in world history. Whilst he does not shrink from its more excessive periods or actions he glosses over with its... Read morePublished 6 months ago by Alex Green