The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

Front Cover
Macmillan, 1996 - 704 pages
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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User Review  - mattries37315 - www.librarything.com

The largest empire in history ended less than a century ago, yet the legacy of how it rose and how it fell will impact the world for longer than it existed. Lawrence James’ chronicles the 400-year ... Read full review

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User Review  - NikNak1 - LibraryThing

Excellently written proving that history books don't have to be written in a dull and boring fashion. The facts and history are beautifully written and the in a delightful and easy manner that doesn't leave the reader feeling tired or overpowered by history or fancy wording Read full review

Contents

PART
49
PART THREE
167
the Pacific
235
West Africa
288
The Edwardian Empire
319
The Empire and the Coming
334
PART FOUR
351
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353
19457
542
Empire
588
Bibliography
631
Notes
651
Index
677
482
684
542
693
622
699

The Empire goes to War
467
PART FIVE
523

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About the author (1996)

Lawrence James is a former teacher and the author of several books, including the successful "The Rise and Fall of Britain". He lives in Scotland.

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