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In this incisive new work, already being hailed as a landmark, David Cannadine looks at the British Empire from a new perspective—through the eyes of those who created and ruled it—and offers fresh insight into the driving forces behind the Empire. Arguing against the views of Edward Said and others, Cannadine suggests that the British were motivated not by race but by class. The British wanted to domesticate the exotic world of their colonies and to reorder the societies they ruled according to an idealized image of their own class hierarchies. In reestablishing the connections between British society and colonial society, Cannadine shows that Imperialists loathed Indians and Africans no more nor less than they loathed the great majority of Englishmen and were far more willing to work with maharajahs, kings, and chiefs of whatever race than with "sordid" white settlers. Revolted by the triumph of democracy in Britain itself, the Empire's rulers embraced a feudal vision of the colonies which successfully endured until the 1950s.
About the Author:
David Cannadine is Professor of History and Director of the Institute of Historical Research at London University. He is the author of many acclaimed books including The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy, Class in Britain, and History in Our Time. He lives in London.
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Posted March 17, 2004
Despite having a world wide reputation, David Cannadine sorely disappoints with this mishmash of late imperial nostalgia and selective reading of the past. It was as if he came up with the catchy title and decided he should say something controversial, evidence be damned. In the process, he ignores 20 years of careful scholarship on the empire. This is the worst sort of imperial apologia.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.