Empire: A Very Short Introduction, Paperback Book
3.5 out of 5 (1 rating)


A great deal of the world's history is the history of empires.

Indeed it could be said that all history is colonial history, if one takes a broad enough definition and goes far enough back. And although the great historic imperial systems, the land-based Russian one as well as the seaborne empires of western European powers, have collapsed during the past half century, their legacies shape almost every aspect of life on a global scale.

Meanwhile there is fierce argument, and much speculation, about what has replaced the old territorial empires in world politics.

Do the United States and its allies, transnational companies, financial and media institutions, or more broadly the forces of 'globalization', constitute a new imperial system?

Stephen Howe interprets the meaning of the idea of 'empire' through the ages, disentangling the multiple uses and abuses of the labels 'empire', 'colonialism', etc., and examines the aftermath of imperialism on the contemporary world.

ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly.

Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 160 pages, numerous halftones
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Colonialism & imperialism
  • ISBN: 9780192802231



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When I first started reading this book, I found myself to be quite lost. I felt so confused because the author seemed to be jumping from topic to topic, where I guess I was hoping to have a chronological history of the topic. After reading for a while, however, his organization began to make more sense to me. This is a great book for putting history in perspective. I was all of a sudden able to understand why some countries hate others so much. A lot of this seems to be a result of imperialism and colonization. So many times it was due to the empire building done by European countries.Stephen Howe describes many of the effects of imperialism on the conquered peoples, their culture, economy, and religion, as well as how some groups of people suffered genocide at the hands of the conquerors. He explained how most countries that were forced into colonialism often did not have a choice because the imperial forces had much greater military technology. He also pointed out some of the arguments or justification of colonizing other nations, such as the fact that "almost all colonized areas developed more rapidly than they would have done if they had remained independent." This book was filled with historical facts and many thought provoking ideas, and would be great for aiding discussion in a college history course.