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Modern Political Thinkers and Ideas: An Historical Introduction
by Tudor Jones
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"Imperial Vanities is the entwined story of three Victorians. Two of these men were brothers - Sir Samuel Baker, the irrepressible adventurer and explorer, and Colonel Valentine Baker, reckoned by his age to be the leading cavalry officer of the British Army before disgrace and humiliation overwhelmed him. The third is the enigmatic and troubled Charles 'Chinese' Gordon, murdered by the Mahdi's forces in Khartoum in 1885." "The lives of these three men were bent and twisted by the nineteenth-century conviction that an Englishman was at the summit of God's creation, to whom was given the task of changing the entire world. The outcome of such a belief was to turn a collection of forts and anchorages, factories and trading posts into the quasi-mystical Big Idea we have forgotten today - the British Empire as creator and destroyer.". "Imperial Vanities is an adventure story in the high tradition, ranging from the upper Nile to Ceylon, Egypt and the slave markets of the Balkans. Wilful, profoundly eccentric and driven by the sort of idealism we no longer consider an heroic virtue, the lives of these men combine to make a tragi-comic commentary on the most widely-held conviction of their times: that God himself was an Englishman. 'Better a ball in the brain than to flicker out unheeded', Gordon wrote in his journal. Written with Thompson's masterly touch, this is history at its best."--BOOK JACKET.
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