The British Empire was the biggest empire in all history. At its peak it governed a quarter of the world's land and people and dominated all its seas. Though little now remains of the Empire as a political power, its legacy is all around us. It laid the foundation for the global triumph of capitalism. It gave the world its common language, English. It exported both Protestantism and parliaments. And it defeated a succession of rival empires from the Habsburgs' to Hitler's. In the 21st century another English-speaking superpower seems to bestride the globe. But today's American empire was yesterday's British colony. For better and for worse, the world we now know is in large measure the product of Britain's Age of Empire. How did a rainy island in the North Atlantic manage to achieve all this? What were the special factors that enabled Britain to make the modern world - and made the modern world so British? These are the crucial questions addressed by Niall Ferguson in "Empire". This was the first age of globalization. But it was, says Ferguson, globalization with gunboats. nThis text shows how the British wrested power from their rivals by a combination of imitation and intimidation. It shows how mass migration from Britain turned the American and Australian continents white - and how the missionary movement sought to enlighten the "dark" continents of Africa and Asia. Above all, "Empire" explains how the British Empire rose - and why it finally fell. Ferguson's answers are controversial but compelling.
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UK Kirkus review
How did Britain come to rule the world? What would today?s world be like now if it hadn?t? In Empire, Niall Ferguson sets out to answer these questions. He focuses on the history of globalization ? of pirates, planters, bankers and missionaries ? as promoted by Great Britain and her colonies, and examines the legacy that the British Empire has left behind. He portrays an empire in which it was easy to see who got rich, but less easy to see who paid the price. By the last years of Queen Victoria there seemed to be no limit to what could be achieved by British firepower and finance. Ferguson argues that throughout the twentieth century the principal threats to and the most plausible alternatives to British rule were not national independence movements but other empires. He concludes that the empire was dismantled not because it oppressed subject peoples for centuries, but because it took up arms against far more oppressive empires. Ferguson reminds us that today?s American empire was yesterday?s British colony and that for better or worse, the modern world is the product of Britain?s age of Empire. Ferguson?s style is argumentative and highly entertaining ? a revolutionary reinterpretation of this fascinating subject. (Kirkus UK)
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