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5.0 out of 5 stars
An Enlightening Journey, 5 Mar. 2013
This is an excellent book.
I am of the view that the history of the largest empire the world has ever seen has to hold lessons for all of us, both in terms of successes and failure. In the this context, Darwin takes a refreshingly even handed approach - he does not eulogise but nor does he demonise. He appears to be able to rationally reflect on the elastic nature of how the Empire came about (and certainly the acqusition, formation and ruling of individual Colonies could be and were vastly different), why it succeeded or did not succeed in various regions, what can be considered positive achievments and what were the negative consequences of British hegemony.
I have to say I don't always agree with all his conclusions, but that is the point of this book - it is there to make you think.
The final observation I would make is that one also can't view certain actions through the prism of modern sensibilities; what was done tended to reflect the cultural norms of the moment and just as God was an Englishman to those from London, I have no doubt he was also a Frenchman if you were from Paris or Russian if you were from Moscow - in short, the astonishing hubris of those who built the British Empire and the ingenuity and flexibility with which they did so is one the the more fascinating thematics of this marvellous book.
A splendid read.