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Empire: The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for… (2003)
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0141007540, Paperback)At its peak in the nineteenth century, the British Empire was the largest empire ever known, governing roughly a quarter of the world's population. In Empire, Niall Ferguson explains how "an archipelago of rainy islands... came to rule the world," and examines the costs and consequences, both good and bad, of British imperialism. Though the book's breadth is impressive, it is not intended to be a comprehensive history of the British Empire; rather, Ferguson seeks to glean lessons from this history for future, or present, empires--namely America. Pointing out that the U.S. is both a product of the British Empire as well as an heir to it, he asks whether America--an "empire in denial"--should "seek to shed or to shoulder the imperial load it has inherited." As he points out in this fascinating book, there is compelling evidence for both.
Observing that "the difficulty with the achievements of empire is that they are much more likely to be taken for granted than the sins of empire," Ferguson stresses that the British did do much good for humanity in their quest for domination: promotion of the free movement of goods, capital, and labor and a common rule of law and governance chief among them. "The question is not whether British imperialism was without blemish. It was not. The question is whether there could have been a less bloody path to modernity," he writes. The challenge for the U.S., he argues, is for it to use its undisputed power as a force for positive change in the world and not to fall into some of the same traps as the British before them.
Covering a wide range of topics, including the rise of consumerism (initially fueled by a desire for coffee, tea, tobacco, and sugar), the biggest mass migration in history (20 million emigrants between the early 1600s and the 1950s), the impact of missionaries, the triumph of capitalism, the spread of the English language, and globalization, this is a brilliant synthesis of various topics and an extremely entertaining read. --Shawn Carkonen
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:24:43 -0400)
"Niall Ferguson's bestselling "Empire" is the compelling story of how the British empire rose to power - and why it finally fell. Once vast swathes of the globe were coloured imperial red and Britannia ruled not just the waves, but the prairies of America, the plains of Asia, the jungles of Africa and the deserts of Arabia. Just how did a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic achieve all this? And why did the empire on which the sun literally never set finally decline and fall? Niall Ferguson's acclaimed "Empire" brilliantly unfolds the imperial story in all its splendours and its miseries, showing how a gang of buccaneers and gold-diggers planted the seed of the biggest empire in all history - and set the world on the road to modernity. "The most brilliant British historian of his generation...Ferguson examines the roles of "pirates, planters, missionaries, mandarins, bankers and bankrupts" in the creation of history's largest empire ...he writes with splendid panache ...and a seemingly effortless, debonair wit". (Andrew Roberts). "Dazzling ...wonderfully readable". ("New York Review of Books"). "A remarkably readable precis of the whole British imperial story - triumphs, deceits, decencies, kindnesses, cruelties and all". (Jan Morris). ""Empire" is a pleasure to read and brims with insights and intelligence". ("Sunday Times"). Niall Ferguson is one of Britain's most renowned historians. He is Laurence A. Tisch Professor of History at Harvard University, a Senior Research Fellow of Jesus College, Oxford and a Senior Fellow of the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He is the bestselling author of "Civilization", "The House of Rothschild", "The Cash Nexus", "The Pity of War", "Colossus", "The War of the World" and "The Ascent of Money""--Publisher's description.
Two editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.
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