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Pax Britannica: The Climax of an Empire

Pax Britannica: The Climax of an Empire [Kindle Edition]

Jan Morris
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Product Description

Product Description

The second instalment of the Pax Britannica Trilogy by Jan Morris, recreates the British Empire at its dazzling climax - the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria in 1897, celebrated as a festival of imperial strength, unity, and splendour. This classic work of history portrays a nation at the very height of its vigour and self-satisfaction, imposing on the rest of the world its traditions and tastes, its idealists and rascals.

The Pax Britannica Trilogy also includes Heaven's Command: An Imperial Progress and Farewell the Trumpets: An Imperial Retreat. Together these three works of history trace the dramatic rise and fall of the British Empire, from the accession of Queen Victoria in 1837 to the death of Winston Churchill in 1965. Jan Morris is world-renowned for her collection of travel writing and reportage, spanning over five decades and including such titles as Venice, Coronation Everest, Hong Kong, Spain, A Writer's World and most recently, Contact!

'In scholarship and humour this portrait of the British Empire before its decline and fall might, without undue optimism, be placed upon the same shelf as Edward Gibbon's history. As a survey of its subject, I doubt that Pax Britannica can ever, in this generation be surpassed.' Financial Times

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 964 KB
  • Print Length: 544 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Non Fiction; 1st edition (25 Nov 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004EPXX74
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #51,950 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Land of Hope and Glory 12 Oct 2011
By G. M. Sinstadt VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
The year 1897 is the peg upon which Jan Morris hangs her overview of the British Empire in the hour of its greatest glory. 1897 because it was the year of Victoria's golden jubilee, Queen for sixty years. As we approach a similar milestone in the reign of Elizabeth II the book acquires added piquancy.

All over the map of the world in 1897 red marked the extent of British influence: "a begrudging kind of paradise," Morris calls it. A paradoxical paradise, too, for there was little uniformity to bind the various patches of land - from tiny atolls to semi-continents - which variably ruled themselves while always being subject to Victoria's government. "Legally," the author writes, "there was no such thing as a British Empire. It had no constitutional meaning. Physically, too, it was a kind of fiction, or bluff, in that it implied a far stronger power at the centre than really existed."

But it worked. Strengths and weaknesses everywhere, but still it worked. There can be no greater praise for this book than to say that it encompasses the whole, black, white and grey, while constantly illuminating it with the detail. I quickly abandoned making notes; they were already too numerous to marshall sensibly. Page after page offers a telling vignette, a memorable phrase. At random, then, this miniature of life in the Raj: "The soldiers flirted in the public gardens. The officers played polo, sailed their yachts in the harbour, and sometimes went to cockfights, abetted by local Irishmen with fingers along the sides of their noses." In a few dozen words, the reader is taken there, seeing it as it was.

This is serious history, seriously told, always enlivened, never cheapened, by Morris's love of a quirky anecdote.
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4.0 out of 5 stars wonderful flowing tutorial 24 Nov 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
As part two of three following Heavens Command, essential reading. Look forward to the final lesson which I'm sure will give me more pleasure.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A whole lot of history 8 Dec 2012
By J
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This volume is full of facts and anecdotes, not quite sure where the author is coming from.
One minute we are admiring the achievements of the empire builders ,the next paragraph is sneering at the whole of the concept.
I read this volume almost to the end, not sure whether I'll start the other two volumes.
Little sense of narrative, couldn't feel any empathy.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 4.5 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
16 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Popular History I've Ever Read 21 July 2000
By A Customer - Published on
James Morris' PAX BRITANNICA, which uses the British Empire as it was in l900 as a framework, is the best work of popular history I've every read. Morris (who is now "Jan" rather than "James") is one of the world's great writers. This absorbing book focuses on the personalities, great and small, who shaped and controlled the Empire in its glory days. Of course there are many diversions, surprises and curiosities, and Morris fully exploits his brilliant talents as a teller of stories. Morris is as much travel writer as historian. Much of the pleasure (and credibility) of PAX BRITANNICA rests in the fact that Morris visited most of the places of empire and he describes many of them as they were when he was writing the book in the early 1970s. Nothing brings history to life like going to the places where it happened.
PAX BRITANNICA is part of a trilogy. Although the first in the series to be written, chronologically, it falls between HEAVEN'S COMMAND, about the creation of the Empire, and FAREWELL THE TRUMPETS, about the loss of the empire. Although quite splendid, in my opinion, the latter works lack the edge of inspiration, engagement and liveliness which make PAX BRITANNICA so special.
Other notable books by Morris include OXFORD, HONG-KONG, THE WORLD OF VENICE, AMONG THE CITIES and MANHATTAN `45. The versatile, wide-ranging Morris has also recently written a book called LINCOLN: A Foreigner's Quest.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Trilogy is a wonderful work on the British Empire 26 May 2002
By David W. Nicholas - Published on
Jan Morris is a fascinating personality. She originally was a he, and he was a guardsman in the British army, an officer from a good family. He left the service, became a historian, and then went to Denmark or wherever, and came back a she. She now writes unusual, affecting, eccentric, entertaining books that are terribly British and a bit disorganized. The Pax Brittanica trilogy is her life's work, near enough, though she's done other books that are very good. This one, however, is three volumes long, quite involved and very detailed. The series includes Heaven's Command, Pax Britannica, and Farewell the Trumpets. The first generally deals with the Empire in the 1840s on, the second follows things through the thirties, and the third follows the empire through its disbandment.
As I said, Morris is eccentric. This means that though the books are sort of chronological, they aren't exactly sorted the way you would expect, and this isn't really a history of the empire or the era. Instead, it's an anecdotal collection of tales, incidents, and sketches, marvelously told. Sort of like the difference between going through a cafeteria once and a sumptuous buffet where you go back and forth, taking time with what you enjoy. I thoroughly enjoyed the books, though I would hesitate to recommend them to someone who wasn't clear on either geography, or at least some basic history of the British Empire. Since this isn't either of those, you need them to understand what she's talking about occasionally.
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The perfect springboard to start a study of British history. 1 Dec 1998
By - Published on
This book focuses not only on the actions of history, but the aesthetics as well. It colorfully illustrates the lives of the "Imperial pioneers"; Kitchener, Rhodes, Churchill, Livingston and many more. It also covers the grandest moments of Imperial history- the beginnings of the mercantile empire in Asia, to the moral thrusts in Africa and the Carribean. It is part of a tryptich set, which includes "Heaven' Command" and "Sound of the Trumpets" Though thorough, the book is never preachy.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent panoramic journey into the Raj. 4 April 1999
By Kersi Von Zerububbel - Published on
I just finished this volume. The writing is exquisite. I must confess that I found the first volume, Heaven's Command, better and more gripping. Here again, my only quibble, is that in the Harcourt set that I have there are no pictures!! That definitely takes away a star!!
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Best Book on the British Empire 12 Oct 2001
By Stephen Munden - Published on
I bought the trilogy in 1984 and have re-read it every year since then. Morris's attention to the finest details is amazing! I especially love the footnotes that provide further details to the cast of characters or updates on places, bulidings or sites as they are today. Jan's travel writing background especially evokes the visceral, from the bright colors, smells even the humidity of far flung places.
Its the only series you will ever need to read on the British Empire!
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