- Paperback: 832 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (31 July 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0140289844
- ISBN-13: 978-0140289848
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 3.6 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 340,201 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Three Victories and a Defeat: The Rise and Fall of the First British Empire, 1714-1783 Paperback – 31 Jul 2008
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'Immaculately researched, lucidly written ... brilliant' -- John Brewer, Sunday Times
'Inspiringly ambitious ... No one interested in empire should miss this' -- Ruth Scurr, Times, Books of the Year
'This will be a hard book to ignore ... clearly this author is not a man to run away from controversy'
-- Leslie Mitchell, Literary Review
'Immaculately researched, lucidly written ... brilliant'See all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
Although mr. Simms has taken a lot of trouble to keep this book as accessible as possible for a more general readership, I consider this book mainly of interest to the serious students of this period. This group of readers will find solid and thought-provoking analysis, well written.
As Simms points out, this engagement with the Continent was such that throughout the 18th century when British politicians talked about 'the Empire' it would be the Holy Roman one, not the British overseas empire. His analysis debunks the general belief that its continental partners (including the Hannoverian Personal Union) were merely a drain on resources. In fact, they were a crucial force multiplier that enabled Britain to focus on naval domination and overseas expansion.
This point is proven by the contrast between the Victories (War of the Spanish and Austrian Successions and the Seven Years' War) and the Defeat (the American War, in which Britain had no allies, enabling the French and Spanish Bourbons to focus entirely on naval warfare to the detriment of Britain).
As valid as this point may be, I have to agree with another reviewer that the reptitiveness with which this message is hammered down seriously detracts from what is otherwise a very good book. It just would have been much better at 300-odd pages (and a lot less repetition) than it it is now at almost 700 pages. On the positive side, I really liked the extensive coverage of the less well-known events from say 1713 to 1740. Finally, potential buyers should realise this is a diplomatic and political history rather than a military history; do not expect extensive coverage of battles and campaigns.
Indeed, Simms' tone is consistently argumentative, as if he feels the need to persuade his reader. So, like a student essay defending its stance, quite basic points - such as that Britain's foreign policy was initially more Eurocentric than Atlanticist - are reiterated ad nauseam, with many such paragraphs then concluding with the phrase "In summary" in order to then make the point again! As such, some of the initially interesting political rivalries are focused on to such an extent that they soon become an obstacle to the flow of the story itself, and progress is far too slow to be engaging. Other irritating idiosyncrasies include the cliched Irish colloquialism 'to be sure', used dozens of times throughout, but it's the repetitiveness of the arguments which really kill this book and stop it being the page-turner it deserves to be.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This book should be required reading for anyone who wants an informed opinion over the subject of the UK's role in Europe- what is clear here is that the question "what is the... Read morePublished on 16 Jun. 2013 by Woody George Jerry Seinfeld Allen
I found it to be very good ,Brendan Simms has an excellent style and it very readable. i now understand that Britain is for ever linked to EuropePublished on 6 Jun. 2013 by James Donnelly