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Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress [Hardcover]

Morris James
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1974
The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris's epic story of the British Empire from the accession of Queen Victoria to the death of Winston Churchill. It is a towering achievement: informative, accessible, entertaining and written with all her usual bravura. Heaven's Command, the first volume, takes us from the crowning of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the Diamond Jubilee in 1897. The story moves effortlessly across the world, from the English shores to Fiji, Zululand, the Canadian prairies and beyond. Totally gripping history!
--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.


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 (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,037,219 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 the Audio CD edition.

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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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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Splendid panoramas of Empire 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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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History made fascinating 27 Jun 2011
Format:Audio CD
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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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
25 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This is the way to write and read history 20 Dec 2005
By JAD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This is the way to write (and read) history. Morris gives us silly, sad and wonderful tales of real people whose characters enliven the shadow of Britain as cast across the world stage, lengthening as year succeeds to year.

This is the first of three volumes that cover the reign of Queen Victoria. We are treated to all of the stories of Empire, as the soldiers and sailors of the Queen spread out across the globe to forge a truly global sphere of influence.

History need not be dull, and Morris is proof. This and the other volumes in the trilogy are outstandingly fascinating. We are anywhere that the Sun Never Sets, among some of the most creative and eccentric people imaginable.

The entire trilogy is well worth your time and attention.
23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Best condensed narrative of the British Empire under Victoria 7 Oct 2005
By V. Burgett - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I thoroughly enjoyed Jan Morris' survey of the 19th century British Empire. Having studied this topic from numerous other sources and perspectives, I still found this to be a refreshing account, and one that tied numerous facets into a cohesive whole. While some might regard Morris as writing with too much of a pro-British bias, I did not find the lack of politically-correct 'empire-bashing' to be problematic. Indeed, Morris emphasizes the negative (and the ludicrous) right alongside the positive. In the few instances where the perspective is obviously skewed, the informed student of history can easily read between the lines. In short, for the curious, I recommend this as the finest single volume on this topic, both for its informative content and its exciting, engaging writing style. I look forward to reading more of Morris' works.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating! 25 Nov 2012
By Michael Dolamore - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
I gave this 6 CD set a 5 star rating for its easy-flowing, fact-packed and totally informative content. I was never bored for an instant, though I was disappointed that it ended when it did, before the end of the century, but I knew that this was one of a trilogy. The writer, and reader, brings to life the many colourful and quite incredible personalities that appeared to abound in those days. There was also no bias towards imperialism, and indeed, at times, clearly made the case against it, such as his portrayal of Gladstone and his opinion. A great work for anyone interested in history of this period.
5.0 out of 5 stars People say this book has changed their lives - and one can see why 15 Jun 2014
By andrew boughton - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
This work of inspired genius explains so much of the present day world that it - and its companion books - should be base reading in school curricula. And particularly for anyone living in a former European 19th century colony, whether British or otherwise. It's the engaging work of history I've personally read, a fabulous antidote to the flat, self-hating and soul-destroying Marxist historians and culture critics (the majority, whether they know it or not) and far outclasses even entertaining historical autobiographies or fictions like those of Michener. And yet it's all fact based. It's alive.

And has inspired other writers, notably Thedore Dalrymble, who seems to have looted not less that three successive chapters for three of his own less rounded, more ideological books.

Andrew Boughton
Sydney, Australia,
2 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars mind numbing 25 Dec 2012
By Linda - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I could not find the humanity. It was touted as the story of England's grandeur, but instead all I found was the underbelly: the criminals of Australia, the Afrikans, the Thugees, the disdain for all other ethnic groups and religions and the pompous and self centered desire of an entire country to "teach them" all how to be British. The book lacked soul.
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