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Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress Hardcover – 1 Jan 1974

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Product details

  • Hardcover
  • Publisher: Harcourt (1 Jan. 1974)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 015139900X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0151399000
  • Product Dimensions: 21.2 x 14.4 x 4.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,716,700 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

Roy McMillan narrates this sprawling history of the British Empire during the reign of Queen Victoria (1837 1897). Morris fills this study with small details and sweeping discussions of all the lands of the empire on which the sun never set. With warm, fluid tones, McMillan's voice takes the listener to small and large cities around the world. The material is organized around a series of vignettes that bring the period to life, and colorful descriptions capture one s attention. McMillan uses subtle modulations of voice when delivering direct quotations and interrupts his narration to include all the footnotes, which are digressions and authorial comments rather than explanations. Heaven's Command is the first of the three audiobook volumes in Morris's Pax Britannica. --AudioFile

Jan Morris's Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress is the first of her imperial trilogy, Pax Britannica. It isn't the newest history of the British Empire but it is easily the most readable, with a knack of including details that make us reflect on the present. Roy McMillan thoroughly enjoys narrating a story full of happy warriors and generous spirits that people the far-flung places once so flamboyantly pink with memorable characters, but shrewdly avoids rose-tinted spectacles. --Christina Hardyment, The Times

Published nearly 40 years ago, Jan Morris's Pax Britannica trilogy has never been equalled. This first volume of her biography of the British empire runs from Victoria's accession in 1837 to her Diamond Jubilee in 1897 taking in, besides much else, the Great Game, the Irish famine, the Indian Mutiny, the Jamaica Rebellion and the Scramble for Africa. Elegantly written, it is both delightful and consistently erudite, while Roy McMillan's reading glows with the same infectious passion for the subject as Jan Morris's own. --Rachel Redford, The Observer --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
IN October 1837 the Honourable Emily Eden, a witty and acomplished Englishwoman in her forty-first year, was accompanying her brother Lord Auckland, Governor-General of India, on an official progress up-country from Calcutta. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Metropolitan Critic on 6 Jun. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The theme of Heaven's Command, the history of the British Empire from 1837 to 1897, is a huge and potentially unmanageable one. Jan Morris's approach is to present a sequence of scenes, among others the first Afghan war, the suppression of the Thugs, the Jamaican uprising, the Irish famine, the quest for the source of the Nile, the Zulu war and the defeat by the Boers at Mujuba Hill. She evokes these events almost cinematically, and has a wonderful skill in describing landscapes, buildings, weather, clothes, sounds. She described the purpose of the book as:

'to make people feel that they've had a window thrown open for them, to let them survey for an hour or two the whole wide panorama of a world that's gone'.

The metaphor of the book as a panorama, or rather a sequence of panoramic views, is an apt one as her evocations are intensely visual. She is broadly sympathetic to the imperial venture, but this does not blind her to its brutality: one of the saddest chapters deals with the fate of the Tasmanian aborigines.

It is a marvellously entertaining book, vigorously read in the audio version by Roy McMillan.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By D Wycherley on 27 Jun. 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
When I was at school, I thought History was boring. Given the books and teachers I had, my views were probable justified. Jan Morris, on the other hand, makes it all fascinating.

This is a thoughtful and fair-minded account of perhaps the most important stage in bringing Britain to where it is today.

When Victoria came to the throne, she and Britain did not have and in general did not want an Empire. But over the next 60 years, an amazing conglomeration of powerful, interesting, and sometimes fairly weird characters, each with their own often conflicting aims, ambitions and methods, assembled the "empire upon which the sun never sets" and made Victoria the ruler of a large part of the world. Some wanted to make money, some wanted to bring order and peace, some wanted to uphold "human rights", some wanted to spread their religion. There was no grand plan or overarching strategy or controlling mastermind, but somehow it all happened. Read all about it (or listen) here.

There were disasters too, of course - perhaps less well reported in the ordinary histories. Ominously, the greatest and bloodiest failure was the misguided attempt to bring order and harmony to Afghanistan!!
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. S. Burgess on 11 Dec. 2012
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This was bought for a Christmas present not yet given, but I know that it is an excellent audio book
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Oliver Griffiths on 2 Sept. 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Simply terrific. A tour de force.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By K. R. Clements on 31 Jan. 2015
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
First class book and service.
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