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The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century
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The Tools of Empire: Technology and European Imperialism in the Nineteenth Century

3.4 of 5 stars 3.40  ·  rating details  ·  124 ratings  ·  13 reviews
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Paperback, 224 pages
Published March 26th 1981 by Oxford University Press, USA
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Though this book contained far to many lists of names and numbers that were nearly impossible to follow, it is a great overview of the technological impact of British (and other) colonialism of the 19th and early 20th century.

Unlike other books I've read on the subject, Headrick's account does not glorify 'the empire' and, while the section is brief, comments on the negative impacts of colonialism on native populations.

The book also contains extensive reference notes with each chapter, allowing
Headrick's book is a short, narrowly focused, academic, and somewhat dry study of the technologies (gunboats, quinine, breechloading weapons, and railways) which allowed Europeans to colonize and otherwise control large swathes of Asia and Africa in the 19th century, and is more likely to be read in a university library carrel than in a beach chair. I would not recommend it for the reader with a casual interest in the history of European imperialism. Instead check out the piles of more readable ...more
Rich Cranford
Excellent study of the impact of technology on the expansion of European (particularly British) imperialism in the 19th century. Particularly noteworthy is illustration of the intersections of motivation and opportunity and how technological advances were spurred by these in some case and created them in other cases. Primarily focused on Great Britain, it also provides several studies that illustrate the importance and influence of private and commercial entities in governmental affairs.
Darlene Reilley
So. Many. Names. So. Many. Dates. Good for information, but the author should have done more to link ideas.
Great book, many points on the impact of technology on colonialism that I had not seen before. Well worth the read, though there are probably more recent books that have built off and expanded these ideas. Lastly, sometimes the text took a slightly too pro-imperialism tone but that is not totally unexpected from a book written in the early 80s by a British scholar.
Dillon Tatum
Okay, this book is about how the appearance of new technology in Europe sparked the age of "New Imperialism" in the East. I completely disagree with the author's thesis, but I give it 4 stars because it is well presented and because it is useful in detailing these impressive new technologies and their uses in Colonialism during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Aaron Crossen
The standard text on the industrial tools with which Europe came to dominate the world. Cited in works as diverse as those of Chalmers Johnson, David Kennedy, and Niall Ferguson. The term 'gunboat diplomacy' probably wouldn't exist without this book.
This book was interesting for a book that I had to read for school! it was way better then the Sidney mintz book I had to read on sugar. This one actually was written in a way that I could retain what I was reading and the content was interesting.
a deceptively simple book. i found the cite in Sven Lindqvist's Exterminate the Brutes. Necessary reading to understand the time period and to understand that imperialism does not work by ideology alone.
Imperialism and technology fed upon each other, driving each other further. But lasting effects were often not what were originally anticipated.
Aug 01, 2013 Dan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2013
Well-written, well-argued, well-documented.
HIST 277: European Empires
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