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The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830-1970
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The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830-1970

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  60 ratings  ·  10 reviews
The British Empire, wrote Adam Smith, 'has hitherto been not an empire, but the project of an empire' and John Darwin offers a magisterial global history of the rise and fall of that great imperial project. The British Empire, he argues, was much more than a group of colonies ruled over by a scattering of British expatriates until eventual independence. It was, above all, ...more
Paperback, 800 pages
Published July 31st 2011 by Cambridge University Press (first published 2009)
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The main thesis of this book seems to be that British imperialism is very different from any other imperialisms before it. The author prefers to use the terms “Empire project” and “British world system” rather than Empire and imperialism. It is rather a kind of liberal imperialism of free trade. The British Empire is not a planned project with a coherent vision that was willed and ruled from London but it is rather an unplanned organic mix of disparate “empires” and interests of various classes ...more
This is a comprehensive history of the British Empire from 1830 until 1970. It takes the point of view of the empire, rather than Britain itself, as the focal unit and moves through the various periods of imperial history from mid-19th century free trading to the scramble for Africa, to the Boer War, to WWI, to the interwar period, to WWII, and postwar events. I won't even try to tell any of the story, since it is a 660 page book that is rich with information and analysis.

For history buffs, this
The author has a tendency to allude to major historical events without explaining them, as if the reader already has a detailed knowledge of the subject matter. He also dog-whistles pro-empire values, rather than be completely upfront about it. Overall, he treats history as the privileged knowledge of a select few. In short, his history reflects an old-world elitist perspective typical of Oxford professors from bygone days.
Jeff Schauer
A good overview, though not as strong an intervention in the field as the introductory section would have you believe. Review here: http://californiamwananchi.blogspot.c...
This is the finest single-volume study of the British Empire during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries by one of the leading historians of the subject.
Oct 09, 2010 Olivia marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: tls
positively reviewed in 2 April 2010 TLS - possibly a really long book, though
2/2 stars for content, 1/3 stars for writing style.
Mike Briggs
Heaviest book I have ever owned.
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Historian, currently Beit Lecturer in the History of the British Commonwealth at Oxford university, whose research interests include: The history of European imperialisms; the British empire circa 1880-1970 and the history and politics of decolonisation.
More about John Darwin...
After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire Since 1405 Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain The End of the British Empire: The Historical Debate Britain And Decolonisation: The Retreat From Empire In The Post War World A Christmas Gathering: Collected Tales of Faith, Family, and Friends at Christmas

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