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Karl E. Meyer[Brendon's] book is in no sense an apologia; it is history with the nasty bits left in. Not one massacre, civil war, famine, racist outrage, covert trick or egregious human-rights abuse is passed over. His chronicle thus serves as a useful counterpoint to the generally upbeat accounts of Britain's imperial era, notably Harvard professor Niall Ferguson's well-written yet almost nostalgic encomiums. Brendon supplements but does not supplant Jan Morris's irresistibly readable Pax Britannica trilogy, published in the 1970s, the critical yet fair-minded standard by which new entries should be judged. This Decline and Fall is strongest in its details; the author seemingly has scoured every available memoir for devastating quips, nicknames, anecdotes, rumors and shrewd assessments.
—The Washington Post