Sceptred Isle: Empire,
published in three volumes, explains how Britain, through
trading in such commodities as sugar, spice - and slaves -
built the biggest empire the world had ever known. At one
time a quarter of the global land mass was under British rule;
so whatever the day, whatever the hour, the sun never set
on the Empire...
this final part of the story of the British Empire begins,
the Empire is at its peak. It would continue to grow, but
the self-confidence, the success, and the sheer splendour
of the Empire in the late nineteenth century would never be
basis of the Empire's success was always commercial, and it
was during this period that other great world powers - Germany,
Japan, and, most of all, the USA - began to compete and dominate.
And the commercial success of the colonies themselves would
lead most of them to seek to run their affairs independently
of the government in London. It's often said that Britain
is the only imperial power in history to have given up its
this was often a painful process, and one that was not always
managed effectively or without dreadful violence. Here are
the passionate stories of Ireland, of General Gordon at Khartoum,
of young Winston Churchill at the battle of Omdurman, of the
follies and shame of two Boer Wars, of Victoria's Diamond
Jubilee and the worldwide grief at her death.
Here, too, are accounts of the Empire's role in two World
Wars, of the sowing of the seeds of modern-day confusion in
Iraq, and finally of Gandhi and Jinnah, and India's painful
and difficult path towards independence in 1947, after which
the Empire almost miraculously transformed itself into the
only two slight complaints I have is that firstly the narration
can be quite patronising at times and secondly one of the
voices that reads out the odd list sounds as though it's the
same guy who does the Mastercard "Priceless" ads
on TV. Now this is a personal thing, but I hate those ads
and every time I hear that annoying smug voice I just want
to smash my TV screen - the segments on this radio series
had me clenching my teeth in anger. But I'm sure it's just
the end of the day this is an interesting and very informative
collection that will tell you everything you'll ever need
to know about the great British Empire.
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