The question mark in the book's title is the first indication of the caution which characterises Andrew Thompson's investigation of the impact of empire and imperialism on Britain.
When I was an undergraduate at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) in the early 1980s, the School had a motto: knowledge is power. Students of a radical inclination would denounce this explicit evocation of the School's imperial origins, and evidently the criticism took its toll.
As the bicentenary of the abolition of the Atlantic slave trade approached, the past few years saw a great outpouring of scholarship on subjects related to the relationship between Britain, slavery, race and empire, with particular focus upon Britain's entry into participation in the slave trade and plantation agriculture, and upon the rise of popular opposition to slavery.
This study has several claims for attention, not least on account of its focus on Van Diemen’s Land from the time of its colonial beginnings as a place of secondary punishment from New South Wales in 1803 to the conclusion of direct transportation in 1853: the fifty years covered by the work offer a substantial analysis of the whole period of its existence as a penal colony from its inception u
In the course of a single generation, the British empire was transformed from being a network of self-governing Atlantic communities into a cluster of largely Asian territories acquired, for the most part, through conquest. As countless historians note, the second half of the eighteenth century saw an ‘epochal shift in world power’.
Duncan Bell’s book comes with an intriguing picture on its front cover: Gustave Doré’s famous 1860 depiction of a New Zealander perched on a broken arch of London Bridge sketching the ruins of St Paul’s and its environs. The image, derived from an essay by Thomas Babington Macaulay, captures much of the Victorian premonition and anxiety about empire.
As social history’s highest tides recede, certain of its presumptions are exposed for reargument.
The Arabian Frontier of the British Raj analyses the infrastructure of British informal empire in the Persian Gulf in the context of the different types of rule exercised by the Government of India in Asia and East Africa in the 19th century.
On rare occasions, collections of conference proceedings have questioned paradigms and set new agendas, but for the most part this form of publication has limited impact and esteem, at least in the discipline of history. For those published straight after the event, collected conference papers tend to lack coherence and co-ordination.
General Edward Braddock’s failure to capture the French Fort Duquesne and his defeat at the Battle of Monongahela on 9 July 1755 is often cited as a turning point in the European contest for North America leading to what the English called the Seven Years’ War (1756–63).