Empire : How Britain Made the Modern World, Paperback

Empire : How Britain Made the Modern World Paperback

4 out of 5 (3 ratings)


Once vast swathes of the globe were coloured imperial red and Britannia ruled not just the waves, but the prairies of America, the plains of Asia, the jungles of Africa and the deserts of Arabia.

Just how did a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic achieve all this? And why did the empire on which the sun literally never set finally decline and fall?

Niall Ferguson's acclaimed Empire brilliantly unfolds the imperial story in all its splendours and its miseries, showing how a gang of buccaneers and gold-diggers planted the seed of the biggest empire in all history - and set the world on the road to modernity. "The most brilliant British historian of his generation...Ferguson examines the roles of "pirates, planters, missionaries, mandarins, bankers and bankrupts" in the creation of history's largest empire...he writes with splendid panache...and a seemingly effortless, debonair wit." (Andrew Roberts). "Dazzling...wonderfully readable." (New York Review of Books). "A remarkably readable precise of the whole British imperial story - triumphs, deceits, decencies, kindnesses, cruelties and all." (Jan Morris). "Empire is a pleasure to read and brims with insights and intelligence."(Sunday Times).


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 448 pages, Illustrations (some col.)
  • Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: General & world history
  • ISBN: 9780141007540



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Showing 1 - 3 of 3 reviews.

Review by

A very interesting book, particularly in regard to India and Africa but a bit sparse with regards to Ireland and in fact I found it occasionally annoying with it's attitude to Ireland. It was interesting to see how different ideologies build different colonies and the colonial legacy of several different nations. Also interesting were the comments re: American Imperialism in the modern age and how it struggles with acceptance of it's actual role while trying to appear not to be an empire and to decry empires and imperialism.

Review by

A masterly and balanced synthesis of the greatest historical story of the past 400 years.

Review by

Ferguson writes a pro-Empire historian, but one who is not blind to the awful aspects of the process. I learned much from this book. For example, the Indian "mutiny" of 1857 can be directly linked to the impact of missionary activity which had been barred by the East India Company, but which had been allowed to intrude in the years leading up to the mutiny. Second, who knew that India sent more troops to WW1 than Australia, New Zealand, Canada and South Africa combined? And third, that Roosevelt and the rest of the American leadership in the lead up to their involvement in WW2 were explicitly anti Empire - that their support for the UK was conditional on it not being support for the British Empire as it stood. (As it turned out, Britain was broke after the war so the empire collapsed of its own accord. The fact that the US was the creditor now makes it seem that the cause and consequence may have happily linked in the American's minds.) This is a good book well written. I was surprised to find, in the credits, that the book was the "book of the TV series" - it shows no sign of being a spin-off, and stands well on its own. Read April 2014.

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