Imperial Legacies: The British Empire Around the World

Imperial Legacies: The British Empire Around the World

by Jeremy Black


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Britain yesterday; America today.

The reality of being top dog is that everybody hates you. In this provocative book, noted historian and commentator Jeremy Black shows how criticisms of the legacy of the British Empire are, in part, criticisms of the reality of American power today. He emphasizes the prominence of imperial rule in history and in the world today, and the selective way in which certain countries are castigated. Imperial Legacies is a wide-ranging and vigorous assault on political correctness, its language, misuse of the past, and grasping of both present and future.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781641770385
Publisher: Encounter Books
Publication date: 04/09/2019
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 601,454
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Jeremy Black is Established Professor of History at the University of Exeter. Graduating from Cambridge with a starred first, he did postgraduate work at Oxford and then taught at Durham, eventually as professor, before moving to Exeter in 1996. He has lectured extensively in Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, New Zealand, and the United States, where he has held visiting chairs at West Point, Texas Christian University, and Stillman College. He was appointed to the Order of Membership of the British Empire for services to stamp design.

He is, or has been, on a number of editorial boards, including the Journal of Military History , the Journal of the Royal United Services Institute , and History Today and was editor of Archives. His books include The British Seaborne Empire , Contesting History and Rethinking World War Two.

Table of Contents

Preface vii

1 Introduction 1

2 Competing Histories 11

3 Why Empire? 33

4 British Rule and Foundation Accounts: India and Ireland 63

5 China and the United States 89

6 Australia, Canada, and New Zealand 103

7 Responding to the World that Empire Made 113

8 The Slave Trade and Racism 127

9 The View from Britain 139

10 Conclusions 167

Notes 175

Index 193

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Is it still possible to have a rational and calm debate about the causes and legacies of British colonialism that begins with questions rather than answers? Professor Black shows the way forward in this readable and informed essay. It will frame the debate for years to come.”

—Professor Bruce Gilley, Portland State University, and author of The Right to Rule: How States Win and Lose Legitimacy (2009)

“In the best tradition of the splendid Encounter Books, Imperial Legacies is very well researched, well written, and superbly provocative. Everything you’ve heard about the supposed evils of British imperialism will be turned on its head by Jeremy Black’s thoughtful, informed, and intelligent analysis. If you happen to be British, the shame you’ve been taught to feel about your forefathers’ work will be transformed into a genuine and lasting sense of pride.”

—Professor Andrew Roberts, King’s College London, and author of Churchill: Walking with Destiny (2008)

“At a time when any praise of the British Empire attracts not just criticism but intemperate personal attacks, Professor Black’s book—based on his close study and experience of many former imperial possessions—provides an essential corrective. He counters ignorance of this part of the British past with evidence rather than assertion, and analysis rather than prejudice. The result is a compelling reappraisal of the imperial legacy, and a powerful argument made for the Empire’s propagation of the values of liberty, democracy, and civilization. Before the bigots who aim to close down discussion on the British Empire take any further steps, they should enlighten themselves by reading this superb book.”

—Simon Heffer, Professor of Modern British History, Humanities Research Institute at the University of Buckingham

“There are few better guides to the impact of Empire on these islands and the world than Jeremy Black. These are deeply contested questions but Professor Black is a sure-footed and clear-sighted guide. No debate about our imperial past and its legacy is complete without Professor Black's brilliant analysis.”

— Michael Gove, Environment Secretary and Member of Parliament of the United Kingdom

“Jeremy Black draws from his vast and eclectic resources to interrogate the meanings of ‘empire,’ to challenge present political uses with past historical facts, and to offer a measured and comparative defense of the British Empire. Anyone who wants to engage on the imperial front of our current culture wars would benefit by arming themselves with this compactbook.”

— Nigel Biggar, Regius Professor of Moral and Pastoral Theology, University of Oxford

“As Black shows, the now all but ubiquitous condemnation of British ‘imperialism’ rests on weak historical foundations. He not only points out the many incongruities and anachronisms that characterize much recent academic and popular writing on the subject, but also notes the many ways in which empire-bashing is instrumentalized for political purposes. This book will win Professor Black few friends, but it is a noble if doomed attempt to restore the British Empire to the realm of serious historical scholarship.”

— Niall Ferguson, Milbank Senior Fellow, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University

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