Captives by Linda Colley
The story of Britain's pursuit of empire and how its soldiers and civilians were held captive by the dream of global supremacy

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In this path-breaking book Linda Colley reappraises the rise of the biggest empire in global history. Excavating the lives of some of the multitudes of Britons held captive in the lands their own rulers sought to conquer, Colley also offers an intimate understanding of the peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean, North America, India, and Afghanistan.

Here are harrowing, sometimes poignant stories by soldiers and sailors and their womenfolk, by traders and con men and by white as well as black slaves. By exploring these forgotten captives – and their captors – Colley reveals how Britain’s emerging empire was often tentative and subject to profound insecurities and limitations. She evokes how British empire was experienced by the mass of poor whites who created it. She shows how imperial racism coexisted with cross-cultural collaborations, and how the gulf between Protestantism and Islam, which some have viewed as central to this empire, was often smaller than expected. Brilliantly written and richly illustrated, Captives is an invitation to think again about a piece of history too often viewed in the same old way. It is also a powerful contribution to current debates about the meanings, persistence, and drawbacks of empire.

From the Trade Paperback edition.

About Linda Colley

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Born in Britain, Linda Colley has taught and written on history and current events on both sides of the Atlantic. Previously at Cambridge, Yale, and the London School of Economics, she is now Shelby M.C. Davis 1958 Professor of History at Princeton University. Her previous books include In Defiance of Oligarchy: The Tory Party, 1714-1760, Namier, and Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837, for which she won the Wolfson Prize.
Published December 18, 2007 by Anchor. 464 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences, War, Biographies & Memoirs. Non-fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Indeed, Colley writes, the most successful of the empire’s soldiers had the wisdom to acquire knowledge of the other, court “indigenous tolerance,” and even consent, and otherwise behave in un-Crusoe–like ways as they went about their business—behavior that counted as much as any weapon in colori...

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The Guardian

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Captives: Britain, Empire and the World 1600-1850 by Linda Colley Jonathan Cape £20, pp438 Throughout the seventeenth century, the relatives of captives held as slaves in North Africa regularly petitioned Parliament to intervene on behalf of their loved ones who had been seized by Barbary corsair...

Oct 13 2002 | Read Full Review of Captives: The story of Britai...

The Guardian

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The image of the British defeat at Pollilur, painted on the walls of Tipu's summer palace at Seringapatam, is brilliantly interpreted by Colley as showing how Mysore's victors viewed the surrounded and defeated British at the moment the British defeat became certain: "The white soldiers all appea...

Nov 09 2002 | Read Full Review of Captives: The story of Britai...

Publishers Weekly

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Colley (Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707–1837) brilliantly marshals an array of captivity narratives by everyday Britons captured by foreign powers to show the dizzying ethnic and cultural complexity of empire.

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London Review of Books

It is with the fate of these captives, and the thousands of others like them throughout the whole extent of the British Empire during the first 250 years of its history, that Linda Colley’s new book is concerned.

Apr 30 2009 | Read Full Review of Captives: The story of Britai...

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