3.42 (269 ratings by Goodreads)
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With the return of Hong Kong to the Chinese government in 1997, the empire that had lasted three hundred years and "upon which the sun never set" finally lost its hold on the world and slipped into history. But the question of how we understand the British Empire--its origins, nature, purpose, and effect on the world it ruled--is far from settled. In this incisive work, 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 only by race, but also 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.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 288 pages
  • 133 x 203 x 16.76mm | 204g
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 019515794X
  • 9780195157949
  • 1,215,780

Review quote

"A lively account....As entertaining in its anecdotes as it is thought-provoking."--Boston Globe
"Cannadine is excellent on the uses of pageantry and on the kitschy extremes it had reached by the nineteen-twenties."--New Yorker
"A thoughtful and spirited book....In the privacy of their small worlds, away from the postmodernists and the radical historians writing 'peripheral' history, there can be heard fond retrospects of the empire and its pageantry by ordinary, unfashionable men and women. Were these people to tell us what they recall of the empire's doings, I suspect that they would echo some of the truths of Cannadine's subtle and learned retrieval of that imperial history."--Fouad Ajami, The New York Times Book Review
"A study of British imperial attitudes that is light in size and tone but filled with weighty significance. In less than 200 pages of text, he has reopened the debate on the British Empire and has brought fresh insight into the ways that nations project their power around the globe."--The Philadelphia Inquirer
"This is a lovely book, full of insights and unfamiliar perspectives. Were the rulers of Victoria's Empire more snobbish or more racist? They hardly knew the difference, for the common people of their own nation were very little less mysterious or threatening to them than the dark sullen masses of India or Africa. At least this much can be said, though, and David Cannadine says it: The snobbery diluted and tempered the racism."--John Derbyshire, National Review
"Cannadine writes with insight, felicity and wit."--The Washington Post Book World
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About Cannadine

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 Rise and Fall of Class in Britain, and G.M. Trevelyan: A Life in History.
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Rating details

269 ratings
3.42 out of 5 stars
5 13% (36)
4 35% (93)
3 38% (103)
2 8% (22)
1 6% (15)
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