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The Decline and Fall of the British Empire,…
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The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 (original 2007; edition 2010)

by Piers Brendon (Author)

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399739,218 (3.97)5
Member:mortybooks2
Title:The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997
Authors:Piers Brendon (Author)
Info:Vintage (2010), Edition: Reprint, 848 pages
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The Decline and Fall of the British Empire, 1781-1997 by Piers Brendon (2007)

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» See also 5 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
This is a wide-ranging and ambitious book about a topic that I personally find fascinating.Overall, it is terrific, so let me point out the one or two small flaws that keep me from a five star rating. Because the books range is so wide, naturally there are limits to what the author could cover thoroughly. So there are few places where I caught him taking some research "short cuts," i.e. using fictional accounts as examples without clearly indicating that they were fiction. If this were a history textbook, this would be inexcusable, but since the fictional sources were clearly cited for the careful reader to identify and this is, after all, a readable popular account rather than an academic text, I think these are minor problems in an otherwise remarkably well-written and readable book. ( )
  kaitanya64 | Jan 3, 2017 |
This book was dense. I liked it, but it took me 2 months to read it (granted, with much else going on).

It's definitely one of those books written from the stance that there are no good guys in history. Well, people that do good, but... Eh.

Very interesting; while the US has never had the colonial reach of GB, there are definitely some parallels (some). In that thread, it is interesting to become aware of ones own thinking following earlier reflections re: The decline of Romam Empire --> The decline of the British Empire --> The decline of the US... Hegemony.

But dense! ( )
  dcunning11235 | Oct 17, 2016 |
Big-picture narrative history starting with the colonies that rebelled in America and the colonial decline dread that followed, only to be dispelled when the Brits red coats puffed out after nipping Napoleon. Book is filled in with tiny details excerpted from period documents that make it feel snappy at times.

Brenden explains how the empire was always fated to fail. He does this continuously. He tells its racism, its greed, its theft, its moralistic overlay that could never cover its actions. He damns it over and over and then pops up and says "but the British did" --and he lists some railroad or another.

Perfect for a long long vacation read. ( )
  kerns222 | Aug 24, 2016 |
This author has a bias against the British Empire. Nonetheless, this was informative. I liked Jan Morris' more positive treatment of the same material. The point of view of this author is exemplified by the cover picture which shows a group of drunken colonial officers. ( )
  jerry-book | Jan 26, 2016 |
This book is well-written and informative. It does a good job of providing everything you can ask for. It gives you a good overview of the history of the british empire. It provides mini-biographies of the major political figures as well as key summaries of the major events. It provides anecdotes from people both inside and outside the british empire. It also provides a good social history by telling you something about how ordinary people in the British empire lived.The only price you pay for all these is that the book is long and can become repetitive and tedious to read a times, but overall This book is a masterpiece of political and social history ( )
1 vote zen_923 | Dec 20, 2013 |
Showing 1-5 of 7 (next | show all)
Piers Brendon's prodigious volume is a brilliant account of acts two, three and four in this swelling drama of imperial themes from Yorktown to Goose Green. Despite his title, he knows he is not Edward Gibbon and is the first to concede that Decline and Fall casts a long shadow. While he has resisted 'setting up as a rival' to the choleric county colonel and his rolling Augustan narrative of Roman decline, the awesome scale of a subject that includes Africa, the Far East and the Antipodes compels the faithful narrator into an enthralling mini-series of colonial adventure from Plessey to Omdurman, via the Zulu wars (Rorke's Drift) and Baden-Powell's defence of Mafeking.
 
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307268292, Hardcover)

A magisterial work of narrative history, hailed in Britain as “the best one-volume account of the British Empire” and “an outstanding book” (The Times Literary Supplement).

After the American Revolution, the British Empire appeared to be doomed. But over the next 150 years it grew to become the greatest and most diverse empire the world has ever seen—ranging from Canada to Australia to China, India, and Egypt—seven times larger than the Roman Empire at its apogee. Britannia ruled the waves and a quarter of the earth.

Yet it was also a fundamentally weak empire, as Piers Brendon shows in this vivid and sweeping chronicle. Run from a tiny island base, the British Empire operated on a shoestring with the help of local elites. It enshrined a belief in freedom that would fatally undermine its authority. Spread too thin, and facing wars, economic crises, and domestic discord, the empire would vanish almost as quickly as it appeared.

Within a generation, the mighty structure collapsed, sometimes amid bloodshed. This rapid demise left unfinished business in Rhodesia, the Falklands, and Hong Kong. It left an array of dependencies and a ghost of an empire overshadowed by a rising America. Above all, it left a contested legacy: at best, a sporting spirit, a legal code, and a near-universal language; at worst, failed states and internecine strife.

Brendon tells this story with brio and brilliance; covering a vast canvas, he fills it with vivid firsthand accounts of life in the colonies and intimate portraits of the sometimes eccentric British officials who administered them. It is all here—from brief lives to telling anecdotes to comic episodes to symbolic moments. Panoramic in scope and riveting in detail, this is narrative history at its finest.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:27 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

After the American Revolution, the British Empire appeared doomed. But over the next 150 years it grew to become the greatest and most diverse empire the world has ever seen--from Canada to Australia to China, India, and Egypt--seven times larger than the Roman Empire at its apogee. Yet it was also fundamentally weak, as Piers Brendon shows in this panoramic chronicle. Run from a tiny island base, it operated on a shoestring with the help of local elites. It enshrined a belief in freedom that would fatally undermine its authority. Spread too thin, and facing wars, economic crises, and domestic discord, the empire would vanish almost as quickly as it appeared. Within a generation, it collapsed, sometimes amid bloodshed, leaving unfinished business in Rhodesia, the Falklands, and Hong Kong. Above all, it left a contested legacy: at best, a sporting spirit, a legal code, and a near-universal language; at worst, failed states and internecine strife.--From publisher description.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 4 descriptions

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