GREENE Jack P.,
Evaluating Empire and Confronting Colonialism in Eighteenth-Century Britain
Evaluating Empire by Jack P. Greene, ©Cambridge University Press
From the publishers:
This volume comprehensively examines the ways metropolitan Britons spoke and wrote about the British Empire during the short eighteenth century, from about 1730 to 1790. The work argues that following several decades of largely uncritical celebration of the empire as a vibrant commercial entity that had made Britain prosperous and powerful, a growing familiarity with the character of overseas territories and their inhabitants during and after the Seven Years' War produced a substantial critique of empire. Evolving out of a widespread revulsion against the behaviors exhibited by many groups of Britons overseas and building on a language of “otherness” that metropolitans had used since the beginning of overseas expansion to describe its participants, the societies, and polities that Britons abroad had constructed in their new habitats, this critique used the languages of humanity and justice as standards by which to evaluate and condemn the behaviors, in turn, of East India Company servants, American slaveholders, Atlantic slave traders, Irish pensioners, absentees, oppressors of Catholics, and British political and military leaders during the American War of Independence. Although this critique represented a massive contemporary condemnation of British colonialism and manifested an impulse among metropolitans to distance themselves from imperial excesses, the benefits of empire were far too substantial to permit any turning away from it, and the moment of sensibility waned.
Review of this book in History Today by Frank O'Gorman.
Place and publisher: Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
Date of publication: 2013
Number of pages: 404
This week’s book(s):
Description: From the Publishers: "From Samuel Johnson Prize shortlisted author David Crane, this book is about the Britain that fought the battle of Waterloo – from pauper to painter, poet to prince, soldier to civilian.
Midnight, Sunday, 17 June 1815. There was no town in England that had not sent its soldiers, hardly a household that was not holding its breath, not a family, as Byron put it, that would escape ‘havoc's tender mercies' at Waterloo, and yet at the same time life inevitably went on as normal.
As Wellington's rain-sodden army retreated for the final, decisive battle, men and women in England were still going to the theatre and science lectures, still working in the fields and the factories, still reading and writing books and sermons, still painting their pictures and sitting in front of Lord Elgin's marbles as if almost five thousand did not already lie dead. After ten hours of savage fighting, Waterloo would be littered with the bodies of something like 47,000 dead and wounded. Meanwhile, as the day unfolded, a whole nation, countryside and town, artisan and aristocrat, was brought together by war.
From Samuel Johnson Prize shortlisted author David Crane, Went the Day Well is a breathtaking portrait of Britain in those moments. Moving from England to the battle and back again this vivid, stunning freeze-frame of a country on the single most celebrated day in its modern history shows Crane's full range in tracing the endless, overlapping connections between people's lives. From private tragedies, disappointed political hopes, and public discontents to grandiloquent public celebrations and monuments, it answers Wellington's call as he rallied his troops to ‘Think what England is thinking of us now'. "
Review by Robert Fox in the Evening Standard.
The Iron Duke with flecks of rust: Wellington emerges as a lesser soldier than Napoleon, Review by Nigel Jones in the Spectator.
Place and publisher: William Collins
Date of publication: 2015
Number of pages: 384
See all books highlighted as This month's book