Unfinished Empire by John Darwin
The Global Expansion of Britain

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As this sharp, thoughtful, enjoyable and levelheaded book shows, the real picture was a good deal murkier.
-NY Times

Synopsis

John Darwin's After Tamerlane, a sweeping six-hundred-year history of empires around the globe, marked him as a historian of "massive erudition" and narrative mastery. In Unfinished Empire, he marshals his gifts to deliver a monumental one-volume history of Britain's imperium-a work that is sure to stand as the most authoritative, most compelling treatment of the subject for a generation.

Darwin unfurls the British Empire's beginnings and decline and its extraordinary range of forms of rule, from settler colonies to island enclaves, from the princely states of India to ramshackle trading posts. His penetrating analysis offers a corrective to those who portray the empire as either naked exploitation or a grand "civilizing mission." Far from ever having a "master plan," the British Empire was controlled by a range of interests often at loggerheads with one another and was as much driven on by others' weaknesses as by its own strength. It shows, too, that the empire was never stable: to govern was a violent process, inevitably creating wars and rebellions.

Unfinished Empire is a remarkable, nuanced history of the most complex polity the world has ever known, and a serious attempt to describe the diverse, contradictory ways-from the military to the cultural-in which empires really function. This is essential reading for any lover of sweeping history, or anyone wishing to understand how the modern world came into being.
 

About John Darwin

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John Darwin is a University Lecturer and a Fellow of Nuffield College, Oxford. His books include Britain and Decolonization and The End of the British Empire.
 
Published February 12, 2013 by Bloomsbury Press. 496 pages
Genres: History, Travel, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Unfinished Empire
All: 4 | Positive: 3 | Negative: 1

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Alex Von Tunzelmann on Feb 22 2013

As this sharp, thoughtful, enjoyable and levelheaded book shows, the real picture was a good deal murkier.

Read Full Review of Unfinished Empire: The Global... | See more reviews from NY Times

Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Linda Colley on Dec 28 2012

...and studying imperial and world history at Oxford to set out, with great clarity and intelligence, and in a wry, un-illusioned style, the multiform meanings and manifestations of empire over time and geographical space.

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WSJ online

Good
Reviewed by Isaac Chotiner on Feb 08 2013

It is in telling the story of retreat that Mr. Darwin is at his strongest.

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Washington Times

Above average
Reviewed by Gary Anderson on May 15 2013

This book will not be for everyone. It has too much detail for casual readers.

Read Full Review of Unfinished Empire: The Global... | See more reviews from Washington Times

Reader Rating for Unfinished Empire
82%

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