Read Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain by John Darwin Online


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....

Title : Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9781620400371
ISBN13 : 978-1620400371
Format Type : Hardcover
Language : Englisch
Publisher : BLOOMSBURY 12 Februar 2013
Number of Pages : 398 Pages
File Size : 979 KB
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Unfinished Empire: The Global Expansion of Britain Reviews

  • Wolfgang H.
    2019-07-02 07:00

    Wer einen Überblick über das britische Weltreich sucht, mit allen Drum und Dran, ist hier richtig. Ich konnte das Buch schwer aus der Hand legen.

  • John D. Cofield
    2019-07-05 05:46

    John Darwin titled his masterly history Unfinished Empire to emphasize the haphazard process by which Great Britain came to possess a huge imperium. I chose to title my review The Accidental Empire because after reading it through it seemed to me that at times the British came into possession of their empire through incident and happenstance rather than any master plan or organization.Unfinished Empire is an erudite but very accessible and entertaining work. Rather than attempting a purely chronological approach (which would have probably required several volumes to complete) Darwin chose a more comparative approach in which he analyzed the processes of contacting, taking possession of, and settling new areas of territory. He then moved on to the details of how the different colonies were governed, protected, forced into submission or eventually allowed to regain independence, and made part of a growing international economy. This approach works well, although Americans will find the less prominent place it allows the sections dealing with the thirteen Atlantic colonies and the American Revolution somewhat surprising. Throughout the book Darwin emphasizes that the British never went after an empire in the way the French, Spanish, and Portuguese did: as an organized and centrally directed enterprise. Instead, Britain's pluralistic society, growing economy based on private enterprise, early industrialization, and control of trade routes and shipping all combined with a world power vaccuum in the 18th and 19th centuries to create an empire. Once the British had power in a region like India they were determined to keep control of it, using their superior armed forces and weaponry and skillfully working to co-opt any possible areas of resistance.There are many fascinating stories in Unfinished Empire: the details by which the British East India Company managed to weaken and replace the Mughals in India, or the process by which China was forced to open itself up to British trade, or the devious efforts of men like Cecil Rhodes to establish themselves in Africa and Asia, becoming personally wealthy and making their motherland's empire even larger. Just as fascinating are the stories of how the British Empire came to an end in the twentieth century as a result of catastrophic world war and economic exhaustion. Unlike some historians of Empire Darwin gives plenty of attention to the indigenous peoples who came under British domination and either suffered for it (like most Indians and Africans) or managed to maintain some independence and cultural autonomy (most notably the Maoris of New Zealand.)Unfinished Empire is a balanced work which both the British and their former subject peoples can enjoy. It is highly scholarly and scrupulously referenced, but it is also a lively and entertaining read that does much to explain how a small island off the northwestern shores of Europe became a world power, and how the cpmsequences of that accomplishment still affects the world today.

  • Andy in Washington
    2019-07-19 09:53

    I read a lot of history, and it is not often that I come across a book that repeatedly makes me stop and say "Geez, I never thought of that before". John Darwin's book does just that. It is a fantastic analysis of how the British put together, and held on to, an empire that spanned centuries and continents.=== The Good Stuff ===* Darwin does a great job at analyzing the way in which Britain grew, managed and especially financed their empire. He is willing to offer an opinion on how it was done, and provide examples and data to back his positions. For example, one of the main tenets of the book is that the British were pragmatic businessmen, whose colonizations were related to business expansions and mergers than any need to spread religion, forms of government or seeking official tribute.* Rather than getting carried away with the military side of conquest, the book takes a much closer look at the commercial side of colonization, which was important because much of Britain's empire building was actually done by "private" enterprise-although in cooperation with the government. Darwin also points out the British habits of using whatever government was already in place, and building an empire while watching the "overhead" costs.* I found Darwin to be especially insightful, both in his overall analysis and in various small points that I had just never considered. As a trivial example, early Europeans had always thought that North America was just a thin strip of land, not more than 100 miles across, and that the Pacific Ocean (and China) were just over the next set of hills. This always puzzled me, until Darwin pointed out that Europeans' first experience with the New World was Central America...which just happens to have those characteristics. I found many of these Aha moments in the book.=== The Not-So-Good Stuff ===* This really should have been a "business" book rather than a history book. Darwin almost makes a number of great points, but can't quite bring himself to pull the trigger. For example, he discusses how Britain's Asia colonies were managed in the 18th and early 19th century. Britain hired strong managers and supplied them with basic guidelines- simply because asking and getting an answer from London could easily be a 12-month undertaking. Further, it was not even clear who in London to ask, because the decision making was scattered across multiple government and private groups. Contrast that to the later years, when the telegraph and its successors made communications instant. But you could easily argue that Britain was more successful at managing colonies in the earlier years. A valuable lesson that modern business (e.g. Mercedes/Chrysler) seems to keep relearning.*The book is not an easy read. The sentences and paragraphs can get a bit long, and Darwin is prone to be wordy and obtuse. Some sections are much better than others. But my biggest complaint is the organization of the book. The author had set up the narrative more by topic (e.g. warfare, colonial resistance, local leaders)than by country or time period. As a result, the narrative constantly jumps from one continent and century to another, often in the same paragraph. I found this frustrating, especially in areas such as Africa and India where my knowledge was sketchy. It took a lot of work to read and organize this material in my mind.=== Summary ===A professor in college had once remarked that areas colonized by the British (Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, US) tended to be commercially successful, probably more than those of any other colonizing power. I had always been intrigued by that, and this book provided an excellent look at why that might be so. Darwin does a masterful job at capturing how the British ran colonies, why there were so successful at it, and what we can learn from this.I would have loved to see his arguments expanded into modern business, but respect his position. I found the book tough to read, but the reward for working through it was more than sufficient to justify the time and effort. If you are at all interested in the pragmatic "business and economics" side of history, this is a great book.

  • Kindle Customer
    2019-06-29 08:01

    This is an interesting, if somewhat arguable, work that attempts to explore the social and political interactions that colored British colonization activities from the American Colonies to India to Africa to Oceania.The interactions between the home government in England and the Anglo-european colonists, native inhabitants and the often violent or extra-legal actions of the various parties is explored. The author attempts to analyze and explain these actions and how it shaped the various components of this disharmonious collection known as the British Empire.As an American (of a number of ethnic threads) I naturally have my own biases but found this to be an interesting read ... especially in the description of the Australian and New Zealand colonial periods. I did not perceive, however, that much of this interaction which seems to be universal in human civilization, especially the disconnect between ethnic colonist and Imperial interests, was described in these terms. There was little compare and contrasts with other Imperial states.Overall a worthwhile read on Kindle.

  • drohan00
    2019-06-28 08:14

    A good thematic history. John Darwin is a fine historian who is also a good writer. Reading this book one gets the big picture warts and all of the British Empire.The discussions of Iain Mcleod and Macmillan's decolonization efforts are well put. This book would suffice for a broad survey course on the British Empire. That a small island nation could effectively rule over much of the world is a remarkable feat of technology and innovation. I also like the fact that Darwin isn't needlessly apologizing for the Empire, he states the facts and does so with appropriate scholarship. I recommend its purchase for those who want to learn about the Empire and Commonwealth.