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Ghosts of Empire

Ghosts of Empire

Britain's Legacies in the Modern World

Book - 2012
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Kwasi Kwarteng is the child of parents whose lives were shaped as subjects of the British Empire, first in their native Ghana, then as British immigrants. He brings a unique perspective and impeccable academic credentials to a narrative history of the British Empire, one that avoids sweeping judgmental condemnation and instead sees the Empire for what it was: a series of local fiefdoms administered in varying degrees of competence or brutality by a cast of characters as outsized and eccentric as anything conjured by Gilbert and Sullivan.

The truth, as Kwarteng reveals, is that there was no such thing as a model for imperial administration; instead, appointees were schooled in quirky, independent-minded individuality. As a result the Empire was the product not of a grand idea but of often chaotic individual improvisation. The idosyncracies of viceroys and soldier-diplomats who ran the colonial enterprise continues to impact the world, from Kashmir to Sudan, Baghdad to Hong Kong.

Publisher: New York : PublicAffairs, [2012], c2011
Edition: 1st ed., U. S. ed.
ISBN: 9781610391207
Call Number: 909.0971 K9794
Characteristics: 446 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. (some col.), map ; 24 cm


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debkd Jan 14, 2014

This is a highly readable book and there is no doubt that the writer, who is currently serving as a Conservative MP has an excellent background. But I found this book disappointing on a number of counts, not the least of which is that he persists in the ill-conceived notion that it's legitimate to judge nineteenth-century politicians, administrators and writers from a narrow 21st-century perspective. Still, I would recommend this book as supplemental reading for someone who is already well-versed in British colonial history.


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