What were the beginnings of the English language?
Why has American culture spread so successfully and will it continue to do so even as the country's power apparently wanes?
Why are the West Indies no longer any good at cricket?
What difference did slavery make to the way we speak English today?
Packed with nuggets of information about language, culture, history and power, Robert McCrum traces the way that the English language as twisted and turned in response to the way the world has changed, and how, even as the British Empire is long dead, the language extends its influence further and further in a globalised world.