Drawing on a lifetime's research and reflection on the history of the British Empire by one of the senior figures in the field, this wide-ranging volume covers key themes essential to understanding the complexities of the British Empire, including religion and ethics, sexuality, geopolitical and economic dynamics and imperial bureaucracy.
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'In this beautifully crafted collection, Hyam bids a fond farewell to a subject that has sustained an extraordinary and unique life's work. He deserves an equally fond commendation.' Joanna Lewis, The Times Higher Education Supplement
'Deeply informed and bristling with ideas.' History Today
'Hyam has written a diverse and distinguished book that presents the reader with a depth of understanding second to none. That he has done this with an almost quirky professionalism is testament not only to his skill as a writer but indeed his unquestionable knowledge of empire.' History Teaching Review
Understanding the British Empire draws on a lifetime's research and reflection on the history of the British Empire by one of the senior figures in the field. Essays cover six key themes: the geopolitical and economic dynamics of empire, religion and ethics, imperial bureaucracy, the contribution of political leaders, the significance of sexuality, and the shaping of imperial historiography. A major new introductory chapter draws together the wider framework of Dr Hyam's studies and several new chapters focus on lesser known figures. Other chapters are revised versions of earlier papers, reflecting some of the debates and controversies raised by the author's work, including the issue of sexual exploitation, the European intrusion into Africa, including the African response to missionaries, trusteeship, and Winston Churchill's imperial attitudes. Combining traditional archival research with newer forms of cultural exploration, this is an unusually wide-ranging approach to key aspects of empire.
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