The Rise and Fall of the British Empire / Edition 3

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Great Britain's geopolitical role has undergone many changes over the last four centuries. Once a maritime superpower and ruler of half the world, Britain now occupies an isolated position as an economically fragile island often at odds with her European neighbors.

Lawrence James has written a comprehensive, perceptive, and insighful history of the British Empire. Spanning the years from 1600 to the present day, this critically acclaimed book combines detailed scholarship with readable popular history.

An extraordinarily thorough and brilliantly researched study of the British imperial experience, this comprehensive, perceptive, and insightful book spans the years from 1600 to the present day, chronicling the failures and achievements of the crown in a scholarly yet highly readable fashion. "Well-balanced and thoughtful."--The Times London. of photos.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"This is a stylish, intelligent and readable book." -The New York Times Book Review

"A reliable, well-balanced and well-written account that should enlighen and entertain lay readers who wish to learn more about an empire that in its high noon was more extensive, more populous, and arguably more influential that that of Rome." --The Washington Post Book World

"There is not a dull page in thi book." --The Washington Times

"A sprawling and complex subject handled with admirable style and selectivity." --A.N. Wilson, author of Eminent Victories and Jesus: A Life

"An excellent work of popular history...fluid, accessible and personalized." --Booklist

The New York Times Book Review

This is a stylish, intelligent and readable book.
The Washington Post Book World

A reliable, well-balanced and well-written account that should enlighen and entertain lay readers who wish to learn more about an empire that in its high noon was more extensive, more populous, and arguably more influential that that of Rome.
The Washington Times

There is not a dull page in thi book.
author of Eminent Victories and Jesus: A Life A.N. Wilson

A sprawling and complex subject handled with admirable style and selectivity.

An excellent work of popular history...fluid, accessible and personalized.
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
James, a British historian whose previous books have dealt chiefly with military matters, writes engagingly about the British Empire from the time of Sir Walter Raleigh at the beginning of the 17th century to Nelson Mandela at the end of the 20th. The struggle that drove France out of Canada, he says, was ``Britain's first large-scale imperial war of conquest,'' and it set the pattern for future colonial wars from the American Revolution through the Napoleonic, Crimean, Boer, Afghan and Opium wars to WWI and the beginning of the end of the empire in India, Ireland, the Middle East and Africa. WWII finished the job. Except for the travels of Captain James Cook, tales of exploration play almost no part in this account. It is, instead, a history of how a fairly simple international mercantile enterprise-in which white dominions were definitely regarded differently from black ones-changed itself and the face of the world. James peppers his account with illuminating and entertaining excerpts from period songs and popular literature. His conclusion: few empires have given their subjects so much of the intellectual wherewithal to overthrow their rulers. A sprawling and complex subject handled with admirable style and selectivity. Illustrations. (Jan.)
A sweeping survey of England's imperial experience from 1600 to the present, with attention given to the greed and arrogance of the Empire and its achievements. Illustrated with fine b&w photographs. First published in Great Britain in 1994 by Little, Brown and Company. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780312169855
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press
  • Publication date: 9/28/1997
  • Edition number: 3
  • Pages: 720
  • Sales rank: 615,296
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 9.08 (h) x 1.89 (d)

Meet the Author

Lawrence James studied history and English at York University and subsequently took a research degree at Merton College, Oxford. Following a career as a teacher, he became a full-time writer in 1985. He is the author of seven critically acclaimed works of nonfiction. He lives in St. Andrews, Scotland with his wife who is the headmistress of St. Leonard's School, and his two sons.

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Table of Contents

List of Maps
My New-Found-Land: North America 3
Baubles for the Souls of Men: The West and East Indies 16
The Necessary Union of Plantations: Crown and Colonies 27
Dispositions of Providence: The Colonists 37
Rule of the Main: The Making of British Seapower, 1689-1748 51
'Tis to Glory we Steer: Gains and Losses, 1749-83 66
The Empire of America: Settlement and War, 1689-1775 83
The Descendants of Britons: North America Rebels, 1765-75 98
The World Turned Upside Down: The American War of Independence, 1775-83 107
The Terror of Our Arms: Conquest and Trade in India, 1689-1815 122
The Desert of Waters: The Pacific and Australasia 139
Wealth and Victory: The Struggle against France, 1793-1815 151
Power and Greatness: Commerce, Seapower and Strategy, 1815-70 169
We are Going as Civilisers: Empire and Public Opinion, 1815-80 184
The Mission of Our Race: Britain and the 'New Imperialism', 1880-1902 200
The Miracle of the World: India, 1815-1905 217
They Little Know Our Strength: The Far East and the Pacific 235
A Great English-Speaking Country: South Africa 251
That Heroic Soul: The Struggle for the Nile 269
The Greatest Blessing that Africa has Known: East and West Africa 288
Ye Sons of the Southern Cross: The White Dominions 307
Be Brave, Be Bold, Do Right!: The Edwardian Empire and the People 319
To Join the Khaki Line: The Empire and the Coming of War 334
E is for Empire for which We Would Die: 1914-18 353
Clear Out or Govern: Troubles, mainly Irish, 1919-39 371
Their Country's Dignity: Egypt 1919-42 386
The Haughty Governess: The Middle East, 1919-42 395
A New Force and New Power: India, 1919-42 412
For the Benefit of Everyone: Concepts of Empire, 1919-39 428
The Bond of One Spirit: The Public Face of Empire, 1919-39 438
No Good Blustering: The Limits of Imperial Power, 1919-36 451
We Shall Come to No Good: The Empire goes to War, 1937-9 467
Finest Hour: The Empire at War, 1939-41 482
Steadfast Comrades: The Stresses of War 496
The Defence of Archaic Privilege: The Empire Restored, 1942-5 511
The Colonialists are on the Rampage: The Empire in the Post-war World 525
Friendly Relations: India and the Liquidation of Empire, 1945-7 542
The World as It Is: Middle Eastern Misadventures, 1945-56 559
Kick Their Backsides: The Suez War and Beyond 573
The Old Red, White and Blue: Reactions to a Dying Empire 588
Uhuru: Tying up Loose Ends, 1959-80 607
Unfinished Business 622
Bibliography 631
Notes 651
Index 677
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 12, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    A Decent Overall History

    Lawrence James' coverage of the British Empire can at times seem a bit bias, but informative. I think if you are looking for something that gives you a clear overview with a good amount of detail, this is what you are looking for. His style is not too dry, but not in any sort of novel style either.

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    Posted January 13, 2013

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    Posted February 2, 2011

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