The literature surrounding British attitudes toward the American Civil War has a long history extending almost back to the conflict itself, in part because it speaks to a question that has long intrigued academic and popular readers alike; namely, how might the outcome of the conflict been different if the British government had extended diplomatic recognition to the Confederacy or even interve
Linda Colley's Britons has enjoyed a long afterlife. Her 1992 volume has become a key historiographical battleground for long-18th-century British historians. 'Four Nations' scholars have tested (and for the most part rejected) the British unity that Colley argued was forged in this period (1), while those of England have remained just as sceptical.
How did the world of nation-states come about? What happened to the world of empires that preceded it? How did the transition take place and how inevitable was it? These may seem (and indeed are) old questions.