The influence of the British Empire is everywhere, from the very existence of the United Kingdom to the ethnic composition of our cities. It affects everything, from Prime Ministers’ decisions to send troops to war to the adventurers we admire. From the sports we think we’re good at to the architecture of our buildings; the way we travel to the way we trade; the hopeless losers we will on, and the food we hunger for, the empire is never very far away.
In this acute and witty analysis, Jeremy Paxman goes to the very heart of empire. As he describes the selection process for colonial officers (‘intended to weed out the cad, the feeble and the too clever’) the importance of sport, the sweating domestic life of the colonial officer’s wife (‘the challenge with cooking meat was “to grasp the fleeting moment between toughness and putrefaction when the joint may possibly prove eatable”‘) and the crazed end for General Gordon of Khartoum, Paxman brings brilliantly to life the tragedy and comedy of Empire and reveals its profound and lasting effect on our nation and ourselves.
So I picked up Jeremy Paxman’s Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British. A glimpse into the way the British Empire shaped the world, and more importantly, how the Empire shaped the British. Interesting and very readable.
I loved that the book was filled with interesting details and not overwhelmed by historical data. Explaining the way the British Empire got to its size and influence all around the globe.
Very logical and simple cause and effect events that make it easy to digest and to understand. I believe that the subject is an interesting one because I hadn’t looked too much into this part of history before. It helps understand some interesting ideas and attitudes one might find strange without a good historical context.
I believe it is worth checking out because it is short and simple. Yet when you finish it you do feel like you have learned something. It has a BBC short series following the roads that were taken within the book. That was interesting as well, but I believe it’s better reading it first.
Let me know what you guys think about it, and the subject for that matter.