- Paperback: 160 pages
- Publisher: OUP Oxford (30 May 2013)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0199605416
- ISBN-13: 978-0199605415
- Product Dimensions: 16.8 x 1.8 x 11.2 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars See all reviews (26 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,624 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- See Complete Table of Contents
The British Empire: A Very Short Introduction (Very Short Introductions) Paperback – 30 May 2013
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Professor Jackson has crafted a wide-ranging yet remarkably short introduction that successfully condenses recent scholarship without overwhelming the non-expert. (N.C. Fleming, University of Worcester, Political Studies Review)
Jackson's pithy survey will be a welcome guide for anyone wanting to explore the wider picture without drowning in the literature. (BBC History magazine)
About the Author
Ashley Jackson is Professor of Imperial and Military History at King's College, London. His books include Mad Dogs and Englishmen: a Grand Tour of the British Empire at its Height (Quercus, 2009), The British Empire and the Second World War, (Hambledon Continuum, 2006); and Churchill (Quercus, 2011).
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Top Customer Reviews
Whilst the subject matter surrounding the British Empire can understandably be a little dry at times, it is a fascinating read given the country's decline in recent history as a player on the world stage. A useful and uncontroversial addition to newcomers to general British history.
Jackson acknowledges the difficulties about writing about Empire (and he means the History of the British Empire he doesn't take multi-disciplinary approach). His solution - trying to give a 'hard edged' summary in an area where everything is caveated - is not entirely successful. It could be seen as an excuse not to address significant critiques of Empire and the subject of 'Imperial History' (Jackson's specialism) itself. There is no historiography in the volume which other 'Very Short Introductions' don't neglect and often use as a framework to dissect and explain current thought.
An example might be his use of Edward Said who is quoted - but from an autobiographical paper illustrating the racism of British Officials. There is no mention of the key significance of Edward Said's explosive impact on academia and the debate his seminal 'Orientalism caused. Similarly he quotes a long list of people who 'wrote' on Empire:
"Franz Fanon, Gandhi, Lenin, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Naipaul, Orwell, Bob Marley, George Padmore, Lenard Wolfe and Kwame Nkrumah".Read more ›
Troy Parfitt is the author of War Torn: Adventures in the Brave New Canada
Part of the story is our modern day guilt of our past imperialism. The question is asked "Did Britain wreck the world?" We were playing with it and dropped the ball! The book discusses why the empire was British - what was so special about Britain in the first place, and what was the truth behind those racial divides that drew lines across the empire?
Key characteristics of the empire are discussed, such as trade and the huge economic block that was a result of having an empire. The cultural effect of establishing the superiority of British institutions and history was enormous. The huge scope of our political influence and the strategic dominance of the British military forces all played their part.
There is discussion of the engines of expansion - technology and world influence among them. There is also a minor mention of the church's role (which is probably too minor, even for an introductory work like this).
Much time is given to discussing the rise and fall of the empire and a good context is put into this area. Probably the importance of this is a discussion of that current word that we all value - 'legacy' - and the good and the bad of all that has gone before is included in this section.
The book ends with a section detailing recommendations for further reading which is a valuable addition to the scope of the work.Read more ›
It is often said that if you have 50 GPs in a room then you'll get 51 opinions. I suspect this very much applies with all things to do with our Empire and there will be a vast spectrum of views and beliefs, some held very passionately. This book leans just a little towards the modern stance where we are seen as absolute self-serving rotters and that the world has been lucky to be rid of us.
I must confess to falling into the Andrew Roberts, Niall Ferguson and Peter Clarke (last 1000 days of the B.E.) view of things: for the thing that tantalises me are three things that my dad, who was not born British, told me had happened when he was a little boy.
The first was HMS Hood visiting Capetown bay. He told me that everyone ran down to catch a glimpse of the world's most powerful `battleship'. He told me that people could not help but marvel at the financial, industrial and technical expertise that could have sent it and not only this: coupled unimaginable power to a benign, friendly and welcoming image.
The second when as a young man someone broke the cue or cue ball in their leisure centre and they waited weeks and weeks for a replacement to be shipped from the heart of Empire and this was the finest that could be made and that money could buy.
The third was when he came to Edinburgh at the age of 17 to study in medicine.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Bought as I'm studying A326 Empire 1492 - 1975 in October. Fab little book for introduction of the British empirePublished 6 months ago by Jennifer Byrd
Worth a read but I found it a bit too academic. All right though.Published 12 months ago by J. Adams
Perfect for a quick introduction with a mindset that blows your mind. For anyone who wishes to read a quick yet detailed bookPublished on 5 Sept. 2014 by alex123
As someone who has read a large number of efforts on British colonisation, this comes across as a very good introduction of the Empire. Read morePublished on 17 Oct. 2013 by Jack Chakotay