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War and Empire: The Expansion of Britain, 1790-1830 (Modern Wars In Perspective) Paperback – May 6, 2010

ISBN-13: 978-0582494220 ISBN-10: 0582494222 Edition: 1st

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Editorial Reviews


‘This is an admirable survey - comprehensive, clear and readable.’

Brian Holden Reid, Kings College London

From the Back Cover

‘This is an admirable survey - comprehensive, clear and readable.’


Brian Holden Reid, Kings College London


The years 1790 to 1830 saw Britain engage in an extensive period of war-waging and empire-building which transformed its position as an imperial state, established its reputation as a distinctive military power and secured naval pre-eminence.


Despite this apparent success, Britain did not become a world super power in the conventional sense. Instead, as Professor Collins demonstrates, it operated as an enclave power, influencing or dominating many regions of the world without ever asserting global hegemony. Even in the 1820s, Britain still had to fight to maintain influence, and sometimes struggled to assert dominance on the borderlands of the empire.


By locating naval and military power at the heart of Britain's relationship with the wider world, Bruce Collins offers an insightful reinterpretation of the interaction between military and naval war-making, the expansion of the empire, and the nature of the British regime.  Using examples of conflicts ranging from continental Europe and Ireland to North America, Africa and India, he argues that the state’s effectiveness in war was crucial to its imperial expansion and gives new significance to British military conduct in an age of revolution and war.     


Bruce Collins is Professor of Modern History at Sheffield Hallam University.


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Product Details

  • Series: Modern Wars In Perspective
  • Paperback: 532 pages
  • Publisher: Routledge; 1 edition (May 6, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0582494222
  • ISBN-13: 978-0582494220
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,470,474 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Pink Fluffy Bunny on March 19, 2011
Format: Paperback
When I was a schoolboy, there was a BBC TV series called The British Empire. This was followed up by a weekly magazine serial of the same name. I remember a quote from one of the earlier issues, along the lines of "After Britain lost its first empire in North America (as a result of the War of American Independence); it then went on to create a second empire". This is the story of that second conquest; and it is an excellently well researched and written story.

Story, however, is probably the wrong word to describe this book, as it implies a dramatic narrative. This is an academic survey of several aspects of Britain's global military efforts and their impact on the nature of the British state. The book's sections are
1. War, Empire and British Identity pp1-58
2. The War against Republican France pp59-152
3. Military Imperialism in India pp153-226
4. The War against Napoleon pp227-316
5. Britain's Global Reach pp317-392
6. The Impact of War pp393-490

As the author states, "...restrictions of space limit the scope for going into the details of battles. I seek instead to convey the extent, challenges and complexity of Britain's projection of power by striking a balance between somewhat rarefied strategic analyses and the necessary assessment of selective individual campaigns".

This however is not a dry academic study, but a "clear, concise and readable" survey, with sufficient detail for the military enthusiasts (of which I an one), but camouflages with enough academic terms to keep pedants (hopefully) quiet, but used clearly enough not to confuse or bore the paying public.

Chapter 5, on the Irish Rebellion, I found particularly informative, as I knew nothing about it.
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