The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

The Rise and Fall of the British Empire
Lawrence James

America is undeniably a global empire today, and so a lot of ink is spilled comparing the U.S. to Rome. That’s not wrong – Rome does occupy an important place in the genealogy of empire – but the better analogy is to Britain in the nineteenth century. The Brits showed how to operate a modern, industrial, “informal” empire through the arts of diplomacy, propaganda, and war, providing a model for their eventual successors. James gives a good account of how it was managed, and while not a cheerleader for empire of the Niall Ferguson school, he does see some benefit having come from the exercise and notes that it could have been much worse. Which is about as much as I’d allow.