The Twentieth Century

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William Roger Louis, Judith Margaret Brown, Alaine M. Low
Oxford University Press, 2001 - History - 773 pages
The fourth installment in this distinguished and unprecedented series brings us to the twentieth century. As with the other volumes, this book includes the work of leading scholars.

Here, readers confront the many facets of the imperial experience in the final century of the British Empire, above all the rapid processes of decolonization that began at mid-century. Volume IV attempts to understand the men who managed the empire, their priorities and visions as leaders, and the mechanisms of control which held the empire together. There are chapters on imperial centers of activity, on the geographical periphery of the empire, and on the entirety of its connecting mechanisms, including institutions and the flow of people, money, goods, and services. Contributors also explore the experiences of Britain's imperial subjects in culture, politics, and economics--those experiences which fostered the growth of vibrant, and often new, national identities and movements as well as--ultimately--new nation-states. It concludes with decolonization and the reshaping of the political map of the world.

About the Series:
The Oxford History of the British Empire is a major new assessment of the Empire in the light of recent scholarship and the progressive opening of historical records. It deals with the interaction of British and non-western societies from the Elizabethan era to the late twentieth century, provides a balanced treatment of the ruled as well as the rulers, and takes into account the significance of the Empire for the peoples of the British Isles. All five of the volumes in this series fully explore economic and social as well as political trends.

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Many authors who attempt to pose as ‘world experts’ appear to end up writing sloppy and inaccurate histories under impressive titles. William Roger Louis, Judith M. Brown and Alaine M. Low the authors of The Oxford History of the British Empire too appear to have fallen into the same rut.
Obviously the authors have no understanding about Sri Lanka although they have written authoritatively about it. On page 451 the authors use historically inaccurate and derogatory occupational labels to describe the Karava, Salagama and Durava castes and appear to be completely unaware that the Govigama caste and the Radala families of Sri Lanka were identities created during the British period. The authors also do not appear to know that the Govi caste was the lowest and a despised caste throughout Sri Lanka’s long feudal history. Such omissions and errors are frequently made by writers who attempt to superficially study Sri Lankan history by browsing a few tertiary English sources; many of which differ vastly from the historical native sources..
However even a simple Google search could have saved the authors from committing such gaffs into print. After encountering so many glaring errors on just two pages, my mind was made up on the credibility of the rest of this tome.

About the author (2001)

Judith Brown is Beit Professor of Commonwealth History, and Fellow of Balliol College, at Oxford University. Wm. Roger Louis is Kerr Professor of English History and Culture and Distinguished Teaching Professor at the University of Texas at Austin.

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