Colley (Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837) brilliantly marshals an array of captivity narratives by everyday Britons captured by foreign powers to show the dizzying ethnic and cultural complexity of empire. She considers four zones of the British Empire-the Mediterranean, North America, India and Afghanistan-between the years 1600 and 1850. For reasons of size, population and geography, Britain couldn't run its empire alone. In India and the Mediterranean, for example, collaboration and accommodation with indigenous groups was the rule; most "British" troops in India were native-born sepoys. And over two and a half centuries, tens of thousands of Britons were taken captive by foreigners. In North America, settlers were seized by Native Americans; sailors were sold into slavery by Barbary (North African) corsairs. Colley describes how these captives handled painful encounters with the "other." To a surprising degree, she shows, captives learned to adapt to, and accommodate, a vastly different cultural milieu. Colley also provides an original account of the Revolutionary War, showing how captivity narratives became part of the propaganda war. In India, most British captives were soldiers taken in battle. These Indian narratives "served to personalize overseas and imperial events" to the larger British public. Colley, who in 2003 will become Shelby M.C. Davis professor of history at Princeton, makes a first-rate argument for her provocative thesis about the complex cross-cultural relations of empire, with lucid prose, exhaustive research and surprising insights from unexpected sources. This is highly recommended for those wishing a more nuanced, inclusive and less monolithic approach to the British empire. 74 illus.
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
The story of the British Empire has often been told as a steady, irresistible rise. Colley, however, shows how complex and uncertain that rise really was by examining the lives of the hundreds of thousands of Britons taken captive in America, North Africa, and India between 1600 and 1850. Captives embodied the costs of empire and the possibility of failure. Many of them came from the lower classes—a reminder of the fact that those who built the imperial edifice were usually not its prime beneficiaries. Often, they spent years living in—and even accommodating themselves to—foreign cultures, underscoring the fact that the Empire always depended as much upon negotiation and collaboration with local peoples as upon sheer force. Colley's final, provocative suggestion is that it wasn't just the actual hostages who were held captive but, rather, all Britons who found themselves in empire's thrall.
Copyright © 2005 The New Yorker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Clear and engaging work, but unfortunately weak effort to understand the British empire, the British nation, and the concept of slavery thru examination of three instances of... Read morePublished 10 months ago by Paul J. Edelson
In Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850, Linda Colley exposes a perspective of the Imperial Britain that goes against traditional history. Read morePublished 13 months ago by SFBook Reviewer
This was a great book from the stand point of History. The book opened my eyes too the whole world during this time period.Published on December 30, 2012 by Hermeine D. Ehlers
"Captives: The Story of Britain's Pursuit of Empire," focuses on an area of scholarly research that has been overlooked for decades. Read more
This is a disappointing book, long on Colley's opinions and very short on the details of captives' experiences. Read morePublished on June 30, 2008 by Keith Anderson
I very much enjoyed the book. It was, to me, a new perspective on England, the Empire and British influence in very different parts of the world. Read morePublished on November 23, 2007 by D. Montano
Colley takes what at first seems an interesting subject that fashionably appears to be "previously uncovered" or left "at the margins" of contemporary... Read morePublished on March 13, 2004 by yamambayamamba