Empire and Superempire: Britain, America and the World

Overview


The present American “empire” is often compared with the British one of yore—not surprising in view of the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were once British imperial stamping grounds, too. But how alike are the two empires really? What are the connections between them? And what can we learn from the comparison?
In this compellingly written book, a leading historian of the British empire explores these questions in depth for the first time. Bernard Porter finds that Britain and ...
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Overview


The present American “empire” is often compared with the British one of yore—not surprising in view of the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were once British imperial stamping grounds, too. But how alike are the two empires really? What are the connections between them? And what can we learn from the comparison?
In this compellingly written book, a leading historian of the British empire explores these questions in depth for the first time. Bernard Porter finds that Britain and America had uncannily similar imperial histories before the present day, but that now considerable differences exist. He argues that post-2001 American imperialism is an imperialism of a different sort--a “super-imperialism” that no longer repeats British imperialism but now transcends it.
Porter’s comparison illuminates British imperialism, including Tony Blair’s; the American version of imperialism administered under George W. Bush; and the relation of imperialism to such phenomena as capitalism, globalization, free trade, and international security. His insights are often surprising and always original and thought-provoking.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780300110104
  • Publisher: Yale University Press
  • Publication date: 4/15/2006
  • Pages: 224
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 8.60 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bernard Porter is Emeritus Professor of History, University of Newcastle upon Tyne. Widely known for his works on empire and British history, he is the author of The Lion's Share among many other books.
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Table of Contents

Ch. 1 'Like a house of cards' : the British empire, myth and reality 15
Ch. 2 'Not colonies, but outposts' : the American imperial tradition 62
Ch. 3 'We don't do empire' : American 'imperialism' after 9/11 93
Ch. 4 'Still a global player' : British post-imperialism 134
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 11, 2007

    Useful study of empire

    Bernard Porter, an emeritus professor of history at the University of Newcastle, has written many books on the British Empire. This lively essay investigates the similarities and differences between the British and American empires. He writes, ¿As well as being as imperialist as Britain, America was also imperialist in most of the same ways.¿ Both claimed repeatedly not to be imperialist, even to be anti-imperialist. The British Empire was no good at nation-building witness Palestine, Uganda, Sudan, India/Pakistan, etc., so it created hardly any viable nations. The USA has done even worse, witness Somalia, Haiti, Iraq and Afghanistan. Porter points out, ¿There are many similarities between the two `empires¿. Both countries¿ denials of their `imperialisms¿, or at least of their imperialistic intents, are one. Capitalism is a second. Both `empires¿ have arisen and then spread around the world on the crests of waves of expanding commerce and foreign investment, called `free trade¿ in the one case, `globalisation¿ in the other. Oil is a common factor later on. Good intentions are another. Both the British and the Americans claimed to be `civilising¿ forces, even `liberating¿ ones.¿ He notes, ¿In reality, the only truly exceptional feature of the USA is her belief in her exceptionalism ¿ the myth, or delusion that she is different in the ways she thinks she is but that could be enough to keep her empire going on its own. Myths are powerful things.¿ This inflation of the power of myths is idealism ¿ only cartoon characters do not fall as soon as they step off a cliff. Quoting Condoleezza Rice, Porter writes, ¿`History marches towards markets and democracy¿ a market-orientated type of democracy that is, where competition is all, and cooperation, whether in domestic or in international affairs, simply slows things down.¿ Our capitalist ruling class loves the half-witted dogmas that markets produce democracy and that competition trumps cooperation. Writing about the methods of barbarism that empires always fall back on ¿ torture, concentration camps, internment, death squads - Porter wisely concludes, ¿Alien rule, whatever its other benefits might be, invariably gives rise to this sort of thing. We should remember that before wishing it on people today.¿

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