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The Resource The decline and fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997, Piers Brendon

The decline and fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997, Piers Brendon

Label
The decline and fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997
Title
The decline and fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997
Statement of responsibility
Piers Brendon
Creator
Subject
Language
eng
Summary
After the American Revolution, the British Empire appeared doomed. But over the next 150 years it grew to become the greatest and most diverse empire the world has ever seen--from Canada to Australia to China, India, and Egypt--seven times larger than the Roman Empire at its apogee. Yet it was also fundamentally weak, as Piers Brendon shows in this panoramic chronicle. Run from a tiny island base, it operated on a shoestring with the help of local elites. It enshrined a belief in freedom that would fatally undermine its authority. Spread too thin, and facing wars, economic crises, and domestic discord, the empire would vanish almost as quickly as it appeared. Within a generation, it collapsed, sometimes amid bloodshed, leaving unfinished business in Rhodesia, the Falklands, and Hong Kong. Above all, it left a contested legacy: at best, a sporting spirit, a legal code, and a near-universal language; at worst, failed states and internecine strife.--From publisher description
Review
  • /* Starred Review */ At its height, the British Empire covered nearly a quarter of the world's land and ruled over 400 million people. Yet as illustrated in this well-researched book by Brendon (Fellow of Churchill Coll., Cambridge; The Dark Valley ), throughout much of its existence this powerful entity was suffering a slow process of decay. Tracing the history of the empire from its loss of the American Colonies to the handover of Hong Kong, he examines the contradictory nature of its principles and actions. Founded on the ideas of caretaking and eventual liberty for those colonized, the empire was all too willing to expand beyond its means and stifle attempts at independence in order to retain its own global superiority—a process that only hastened its inevitable downfall. While the scope of the subject is vast, Brendon handles the material with skill and provides a sharp and grim contrast to more positive studies of the topic. The narrative is enhanced by the inclusion of fascinating anecdotes—sometimes amusing, sometimes appalling—about the worlds of the colonies and the lives of those who ruled them. Highly recommended for academic and public libraries. (Illustrations not seen.) [See Prepub Alert, LJ 6/1/08.]—Kathleen McCallister, Univ. of South Carolina Lib., Columbia --Kathleen McCallister (Reviewed November 1, 2008) (Library Journal, vol 133, issue 18, p77)
  • /* Starred Review */ A richly detailed, lucid account of how the British Empire grew and grew—and then, not quite inexorably, fell apart.Historian Brendon (Eminent Edwardians: Four Figures who Defined their Age: Northcliffe, Balfour, Pankhurst, Baden-Powell, 2003, etc.) opens on October 17, 1781, when Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington's troops at Yorktown. That date, by Brendon's account, is the beginning of the end of the empire, "an unbeaten revolt of children against parental authority" and the first such rebellion in modern history, though not the last. Brendon adds that it was merely the first growth of what he calls the "libertarian commitment to trusteeship," the British administration's preference for some form of local autonomy that nearly always resulted in the demand for independence. Brendon leisurely tours one imperial outpost after another over the course of two centuries, ending with the reversion of Hong Kong to Chinese rule by way of stops at New Zealand (which, he writes, once contemplated petitioning the United States for admission as a state), Canada, the Transvaal, Palestine and elsewhere across the globe. The imperial impulse, the author observes, was not all bad; one fine moment came when Britain exercised its considerable power to demand that the Greek government compensate a Jewish man born in Gibraltar for damage done to his property during an anti-Semitic riot in Athens. Perhaps thanks to such nobler impulses, many nations seemed glad to join the empire, which, in the first part of Victoria's rule, "grew on average by 100,000 square miles a year." Yet many others were eager to shed that rule, especially toward the end, when Britain behaved poorly in places such as South Africa, India and particularly Kenya, and when outposts such as Cyprus became milieus of what Brendon, quoting Lawrence Durrell, describes as " 'blameless monotony' conducted in an atmosphere of 'suffocating inertia.' "A comprehensive rejoinder to the work of Niall Ferguson and other modern students of British imperial history. (Kirkus Reviews, September 1, 2008)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
291514
Cataloging source
DLC
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Brendon, Piers
Dewey number
909.0971241
Illustrations
  • illustrations
  • maps
  • plates
Index
index present
LC call number
DA16
LC item number
.B675 2008
Literary form
non fiction
Nature of contents
bibliography
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Commonwealth (Organization)
  • Imperialism
  • Great Britain
  • Commonwealth countries
  • Great Britain
Label
The decline and fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997, Piers Brendon
Instantiates
Publication
Note
  • Maps on endpapers
  • "Originally published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape, London"--T.p. verso
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages [665]-759) and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
715755
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First American edition.
Extent
xxii, 786 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates
Isbn
9780307268297
Lccn
2008014192
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, color maps
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780307268297
  • (OCoLC)215177421
Label
The decline and fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997, Piers Brendon
Publication
Note
  • Maps on endpapers
  • "Originally published in Great Britain by Jonathan Cape, London"--T.p. verso
Bibliography note
Includes bibliographical references (pages [665]-759) and index
Carrier category
volume
Carrier category code
  • nc
Carrier MARC source
rdacarrier
Content category
text
Content type code
  • txt
Content type MARC source
rdacontent
Control code
715755
Dimensions
25 cm
Edition
First American edition.
Extent
xxii, 786 pages, 24 unnumbered pages of plates
Isbn
9780307268297
Lccn
2008014192
Media category
unmediated
Media MARC source
rdamedia
Media type code
  • n
Other physical details
illustrations, color maps
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780307268297
  • (OCoLC)215177421

Library Locations

    • Central LibraryBorrow it
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      30.2713021 -97.7460168
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