- Paperback: 480 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (2 Aug. 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1408829002
- ISBN-13: 978-1408829004
- Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 3.1 x 19.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 112,767 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World Paperback – 2 Aug 2012
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Well-written, witty, but above all fair-minded, this is the best general overview of the British Empire to appear in years. Kwasi Kwarteng has emerged as a significant scholar on the historical scene (Andrew Roberts)
I learned something new on virtually every page of this fine book (Michael Burleigh)
Refreshing, original and well-researched ... "Britain knows best" arrogance is unmasked in chapter after chapter of this devastating book ... No one will understand the political situation in the world today who has not grasped the truths enshrined in Kwarteng's brilliant book (A.N. Wilson Evening Standard)
A successful and convincing biography of the empire's ruling elites and their modern day legacies (Economist)
Smart, witty and personable ... This is a book alive with wild and wonderful characters ... A cracking debut from a very accomplished historian (Daily Telegraph)
Highly thought-provoking ... original, stimulating and insightful (Times Literary Supplement)
It won't please jingoists, but this unsparing account of the British Empire, written by a Tory MP with Ghanaian roots, exposes the dangerous folly of imperial pretensions (Sally Cousins Sunday Telegraph)
This fascinating book shows how the later years of the British Empire were characterised by accidental oversights, irresponsible opportunism and uncertain pragmatismSee all Product description
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Top Customer Reviews
Kwarteng’s book isn’t any kind of overview of the British Empire; rather he focuses entirely on just six different territories – Iraq, Kashmir, Burma, the Sudan, Nigeria and Hong Kong – providing an account of each area’s history under colonial rule or influence, and how that experience colours their political state in the present day.
There is a breathtaking range of quotes and references throughout, brilliantly bringing to light the range of personalities involved, and giving real insights into their characters.
Although he has interesting things to say about all the regions he features, one has a suspicion he has reverse-engineered a common theme to connect them all in this book – namely that each one’s post-colonial history has been coloured by an error made during British rule. It’s an interesting idea but in each case one is not entirely convinced. Too often we are left feeling that the root cause of the problems described, both pre-colonial, colonial and post colonial, is actually the long-time presence of mixed and conflicting ethnic groups – and so nothing to do with anything that happened under the Empire.
For example, we are told that the British error during their brief involvement in Iraq was imposing the Sunni Hashemites as a royal family – a concept allegedly alien to Arab culture - in a Shia majority country (which also has substantial Sunni and Kurd minorities).Read more ›
Whilst the country based sections had lots of interesting facts spread throughout, I thought the style of writing a bit plodding with an over liberal use of long words that you needed to look up the definition of. Halfway through the section on Iraq, at the beginning of the book, I almost gave up but in the end I am glad I stuck with it. The final section on Hong Kong was particularly interesting.
Having worked in the colonial service myself this is a fair appraisal although one wonders what better system the author might have recommended, certainly the present experience of these countries with democracy or with whatever system of government they have adopted leaves much to be desired.
The book needs maps! I challenge anyone to follow the narrative without the benefit of a high resolution atlas. The single map of the world hardly facilitates following the action in the Sudan or tracking the pipeline debate in inter-war Iraq. The book is saved by being an easy read but it is not a serious contribution to the historiography of empire.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
A most interesting and well written attempt 'to capture the mentality' of those who administered the Empire, and to examine the results of their 'anarchic individualism'. Read morePublished 3 months ago by MRS J M RIDLEY
This is an excellent book giving a detailed history of the political development of several countries ruled by Britain in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Read morePublished 16 months ago by Eyrie
Kwarteng has a fair grasp of a limited set of facts and opinions. The book, sadly, reads like an extended undergrad essay - I see a 2:2 in the crystal ball. Read morePublished 23 months ago by paul.ward
This is an excellent book, readable yet academic. An intelligent critique of the British Empire.Published on 28 May 2015 by Deborah Wyman
I read this as part of my history degree. Interesting and, despite the author's claims to be unbiased, I don't think he is (he's a politician.. Read morePublished on 25 May 2015 by Avid Reader
An excellent book - a balanced assessment of the British Empire and its present-day legacy, excellently researched and full of fascinating details. Read morePublished on 15 May 2015 by helcar
Outstanding. A history of empire without all of the bluster and hubris. Very well written and always engaging.Published on 22 Jan. 2015 by David Boyd