Modern history

The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830-1970

The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World-System, 1830-1970

The British Empire, wrote Adam Smith, 'has hitherto been not an empire, but the project of an empire' and John Darwin offers a magisterial global history of the rise and fall of that great imperial project. The British Empire, he argues, was much more than a group of colonies ruled over by a scattering of British expatriates until eventual independence. It was, above all, a global phenomenon. Its power derived rather less from the assertion of imperial authority than from the fusing together of three different kinds of empire: the settler empire of the 'white dominions'; the commercial empire of the City of London; and 'Greater India' which contributed markets, manpower and military muscle. This unprecedented history charts how this intricate imperial web was first strengthened, then weakened and finally severed on the rollercoaster of global economic, political and geostrategic upheaval on which it rode from beginning to end.

Introduction: the project of an Empire

Part I - Towards ‘The Sceptre of the World’: the elements of Empire in the long nineteenth century

Chapter 1. Victorian origins

Chapter 2. The octopus power

Chapter 3. The commercial republic

Chapter 4. The Britannic experiment

Chapter 5. ‘Un-British rule’ in ‘Anglo-India’

Chapter 6. The weakest link: Britain in South Africa

Chapter 7. The Edwardian transition

Part II - ‘The great liner is sinking’: the British world-system in the age of war

Chapter 8. The war for Empire, 1914–1919

Chapter 9. Making imperial peace, 1919–1926

Chapter 10. Holding the centre, 1927–1937

Chapter 11. The strategic abyss, 1937–1942

Chapter 12. The price of survival, 1943–1951

Chapter 13. The third world power, 1951–1959

Chapter 14. Reluctant retreat, 1959–1968



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