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The rise and fall of the British Empire

Author: Lawrence James
Publisher: New York : St. Martin's Press, 1996.
Edition/Format:   Print book : English : 1st U.S. edView all editions and formats
Summary:
Great Britain's geopolitical role in the global scheme of things has undergone many radical changes over the last four centuries. Once a maritime superpower and ruler of half the world, Britain's current position as an isolated, economically fragile island squabbling with her European neighbors often seems difficult to accept, if not comprehend. Although still afforded nominal status through membership of groups  Read more...
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Genre/Form: History
Document Type: Book
All Authors / Contributors: Lawrence James
ISBN: 0312140398 9780312140397 9780312169855 031216985X
OCLC Number: 33103469
Notes: Originally published: London : Little, Brown, ©1994.
Description: xvi, 704 pages : illustrations ; 24 cm
Contents: [Excellent Opportunites: 1600-89] My New-Found-Land: North America --
Baubles for the Souls of Men: The West and East Indies --
The Necessary Union of Plantations: Crown and Colonies --
Dispositions of Providence: The Colonists. [Persist and Conquer: 1689-1815] Rule of the Main: The Making of British Seapower, 1689-1748 --
'Tis to Glory we Steer: Gains and Losses, 1749-83 --
The Empire of America: Settlement and War, 1689-1775 --
The Descendants of Britons: North America Rebels, 1765-75 --
The World Turned Upside Down: The American War of Independence, 1775-83 --
The Terror of Our Arms: Conquest and Trade in India, 1689-1815 --
The Desert of Waters: The Pacific and Australasia --
Wealth and Victory: The Struggle against France, 1793-1815. [Wider Still and Wider, 1815-1914] Power and Greatness: Commerce, Seapower and Strategy, 1815-70 --
We are Going as Civilisers: Empire and Public Opinion, 1815-80 --
The Mission of Our Race: Britain and the 'New Imperialism', 1880-1902 --
The Miracle of the World: India, 1815-1905 --
They Little Know Our Strength: The Far East and the Pacific --
A Great English-Speaking Country: South Africa --
That Heroic Soul: The Struggle for the Nile --
The Greatest Blessing that Africa has Known: East and West Africa --
Ye Sons of the Southern Cross: The White Dominions --
Be Brave, Be Bold, Do Right!: The Edwardian Empire and the People --
To Join the Khaki Line: The Empire and the Coming of War. [The Age of Imperialism is Ended: 1914-45] E is for Empire for which We Would Die: 1914-18 --
Clear Out or Govern: Troubles, mainly Irish, 1919-39 --
Their Country's Dignity: Egypt 1919-42 --
The Haughty Governess: The Middle East, 1919-42 --
A New Force and New Power: India, 1919-42 --
For the Benefit of Everyone: Concepts of Empire, 1919-39 --
The Bond of One Spirit: The Public Face of Empire, 1919-39 --
No Good Blustering: The Limits of Imperial Power, 1919-36 --
We Shall Come to No Good: The Empire goes to War, 1937-9 --
Finest Hour: The Empire at War, 1939-41 --
Steadfast Comrades: The Stresses of War --
The Defence of Archaic Privilege: The Empire Restored, 1942-5. [The Setting Sun, 1945-93] The Colonialists are on the Rampage: The Empire in the Post-war World --
Friendly Relations: India and the Liquidation of Empire, 1945-7 --
The World as It Is: Middle Eastern Misadventures, 1945-56 --
Kick Their Backsides: The Suez War and Beyond --
The Old Red, White and Blue: Reactions to a Dying Empire --
Uhuru: Tying up Loose Ends, 1959-80 --
Unfinished Business.
Responsibility: Lawrence James.

Abstract:

Great Britain's geopolitical role in the global scheme of things has undergone many radical changes over the last four centuries. Once a maritime superpower and ruler of half the world, Britain's current position as an isolated, economically fragile island squabbling with her European neighbors often seems difficult to accept, if not comprehend. Although still afforded nominal status through membership of groups such as G7 and the retention of a permanent seat on the UN Security Council, the simple truth is that Britain has been resting on her laurels since 1945, if not before. The British Empire is both cause and effect of this spectacular transformation. At first an exercise in straightforward profit-making, foreign exploration and colonization by British settlers, traders, and entrepreneurs soon gave rise to serious moral misgivings about the exploitation of native peoples and resources. But the riches to be gained from empire-building were always a powerful argument in its favor, although changes in the domestic social and political climate made benevolent imperialism a more desired objective. The lure of profit was tempered by an urge to uplift and civilize. Those responsible for the glories of empire were also driven by questionable motives. Personal fame and fortune formed an inevitable and attractive by-product of the conquest of new territories, and many empire-builders felt an unimpeachable sense of destiny. The achievements, however, cannot be denied, and during its heyday the British Empire was the envy of the world. Revisionist historians make much of the stunted potential of the former colonies, but as always, the truth lies somewhere between the two extremes.

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