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Ghosts of Empire: Britain's Legacies in the Modern World Hardcover – February 7, 2012
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Intrigued by administrators of the British Empire, Kwarteng, a Conservative Party member of the House of Commons, looks at their rule in six former colonies: Iraq, Kashmir, Burma, Sudan, Nigeria, and Hong Kong. Such varied places militate against generalization; indeed, different forms of governing were applied in each place. One reason for the constitutional heterogeneity that Kwarteng details was the great latitude enjoyed by an official on the spot. Discussingthis freedom-of-action as he narrates each colony’s imperial and postimperial political history, Kwarteng describes the class and educational funnels of Britain, from which a character like Lord Kitchener would emerge to dispose of the fate of Sudan. Similarly self-confident if less famous imperialists populate Kwarteng’s account. They decided their assigned country’s future as seemed best, frequently triggering unintended consequences that persist to the present, like the India-Pakistan dispute over Kashmir, which originated in local British policies imposed in the 1840s. With his emphasis on individuals, Kwarteng enlivens the perennially popular topic of the British Empire and its lasting historical influence. --Gilbert Taylor
Indian Express, September 11, 2011
[Kwarteng’s] book is still a reminder that a superpower's legacy of intervention will be determined by outcomes that obtain after its eventual retreat.”
[A] fascinating debut Kwarteng effectively illustrates the effects of empire in a forceful and thorough book that holds important lessons for today’s leadersin particular that the cost of invading and occupying a country always exceeds expectations.” Business Day (Nigeria)[Ghosts of Empire is] one of several books that currently reappraising what might seem a tired old subject, but in the present strange mood now prevalent, it is worth more examination Kwarteng’s book is a useful reminder that Britain’s empire left many uncomfortable legacies on which the author focuses attention”.
John Spurling, The New Republic
This is an absorbing, richly researched book, smoothly written with a light touch, and suggests, if its gifted Ghanaian/British author is anything to go by, that the Empire at least got something right.”
Andrew Roberts, Wall Street Journal
Mr. Kwarteng is an engaging writer, and his pen portraits of British imperialists are subtle and scholarly.”
Thomas Wise, Daily Beast
While trained as a historian at Cambridge, Kwarteng is no ivory-tower dweller, but rather a man who believes in the power of history to inform, inspire, and challenge the present.. Using case studies from six different regions of the British EmpireIraq, Kashmir, Burma, Sudan, Nigeria, and Hong Konghe illustrates the ad hoc, ill-informed, incoherent, and frequently contradictory nature of British imperial rule.”
There is a lot to learn from Kwasi Kwarteng’s Ghosts of Empire. The text itself serves as a wonderful example of a historical work that can be palatable for the masses without sacrificing academic rigor or scholarshipexhaustive in detail and citation, but written in plain language. On a political-slash-historical level, Ghosts of Empire is proof of a certain self-awareness on the other side of the pond that will hopefully make its way over soon: the citizenry’s understanding of their country’s past mistakes, acknowledged without fear of public admonishment.”
Military ReviewProvides a fresh perspective that reminds us of our shared history and parallel paths As strategic thinkers increasingly suggest that we are compelled to global action with a responsibility to protect’ the embattled populations of the world, Ghosts of Empire serves as a stark reminder of the lessons of the past Ghosts of Empire is not just a great read, engaging readers from beginning to end. It is a thought-provoking historical study with startling modern implications that will prove informative for any student of imperial history.”
Top customer reviews
One of the strongest chapters is his conclusion with his analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of the British legacy in the various countries profiled. If I were to read this book again, I would probably read this chapter first to heighten my awareness of key points. Each section is independent of the others and readers would be free to read them in any order they choose or to pick those they find most relevant. However, each country offers a unique environment that affects the British legacy and omitting one would lose that lesson.
This book offers a marvelous view of the British class system and the elite public school and university backgrounds of those who served as colonial officials. The military connections, the eccentric personalities, and the surprising youth of many of these officials reveals a picture of the British Empire more detailed and more fascinating that usually offered in history books.
British Empire upon todays events. Much of the information I had read or known about. The manner in how he explained
different colonies and the depth in detail was superb. His ability to tie it together as he went along, especially in the
conclusion assisted me in my understanding today's foreign affairs problems and miscalculations The only down side was
the author could have short the part on Hong Kong. It seemed to drag.
After reading this book and having experienced some similar events, the book should be mandatory reading for the White House staff
regardless of party affiliation
Kwasi Kwarteng visits six different colonies (Iraq, Nigeria, Kashmir, Hong Kong, Burma, and Sudan), in which he reviews how the British administration governed those colonies. He reaches the conclusion that the British Empire was ruled by individuals and, therefore, each colony was ruled differently without any consistencies between them. Moreover, Kwarteng argues that even policies within the same colony tended to change when the governor was replaced by a new governor.
Although I was rather convinced by Kwarteng argument, I still cannot stop to think why he chose these specific colonies. And he failed to address the fact that central governments tend to change their policies all the time. Nevertheless, regardless if you agree or disagree, "Ghosts of Empire" is filled with very insightful and interesting information to be highly appreciated by every history fan out there.
Yet there remains some questions such as "had the Empire never existed would India as we know it even exist?" "What there be in place of India?"
The author notes the rigid social structure imposed and Hong Kong. The colony was maintained as dictatorship on the theory that the inhabitants, both Chinese and western were satisfied so long as law and order prevailed and one could get justice from the courts. Clearly a dismissive anti-democratic attitude by the British rulers. >>>>And yet consider in how many places on this planet (even in the 21th century) that "law & order and assurance of justice from the courts" must look like annunaobtsinable utopian dream.