Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain

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Bloomsbury Publishing USA, Feb 12, 2013 - History - 478 pages
24 Reviews

John Darwin's After Tamerlane, a sweeping six-hundred-year history of empires around the globe, marked him as a historian of "massive erudition" and narrative mastery. In Unfinished Empire, he marshals his gifts to deliver a monumental one-volume history of Britain's imperium-a work that is sure to stand as the most authoritative, most compelling treatment of the subject for a generation.

Darwin unfurls the British Empire's beginnings and decline and its extraordinary range of forms of rule, from settler colonies to island enclaves, from the princely states of India to ramshackle trading posts. His penetrating analysis offers a corrective to those who portray the empire as either naked exploitation or a grand "civilizing mission." Far from ever having a "master plan," the British Empire was controlled by a range of interests often at loggerheads with one another and was as much driven on by others' weaknesses as by its own strength. It shows, too, that the empire was never stable: to govern was a violent process, inevitably creating wars and rebellions.

Unfinished Empire is a remarkable, nuanced history of the most complex polity the world has ever known, and a serious attempt to describe the diverse, contradictory ways-from the military to the cultural-in which empires really function. This is essential reading for any lover of sweeping history, or anyone wishing to understand how the modern world came into being.


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Review: Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain

User Review  - Schmidleysscribblins.wordpress.com - Goodreads

Excellent overview of developments in the West since the beginning of the Modern Age. Much information here about World History organized from the perspective of London. The British Empire was ... Read full review

Review: Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain

User Review  - John Farr - Goodreads

A well written, very broad history of the British empire. The author really emphasizes the haphazard nature of British imperialism and the varied interest groups that helped to bring it about. Read full review

All 8 reviews »


Imagining Empire
Making Contact
Taking Possession
Resorting to
Traffic and Trade
Ruling Methods
Acts of Rebellion
Converts and Cultures
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About the author (2013)

John Darwin has written extensively on the decline of Britain's empire and teaches imperial and global history at Oxford, where he is a Fellow of Nuffield College. His books include After Tamerlane, Britain and Decolonization, and The Empire Project.

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