- How Britain Made the Modern World
- Narrated by: Jonathan Keeble
- Length: 16 hrs and 11 mins
- Unabridged Audiobook
- Release date: 05-10-17
- Language: English
- Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Once vast swathes of the globe were coloured imperial red, and Britannia ruled not just the waves but the prairies of America, the plains of Asia, the jungles of Africa and the deserts of Arabia. Just how did a small, rainy island in the North Atlantic achieve all this? And why did the empire on which the sun literally never set finally decline and fall?
Niall Ferguson's acclaimed Empire brilliantly unfolds the imperial story in all its splendours and its miseries, showing how a gang of buccaneers and gold diggers planted the seed of the biggest empire in all history - and set the world on the road to modernity.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Don on 05-02-18
A useful overview, but with challenging biases
I enjoyed this book, though take issue with some of the content. The book is most interesting in its first half where it details the early stages of the British Empire, in particular the link between private and public institutions and the early growth of the Empire. The second half is more challanging, and is very much aimed at vindication of the Empire. The slightly contemptuous attitude to the United States and the convenience of ending the book before needed to fully engage with 1960s Africa/decolonisation are two negative elements towards the end. Ferguson does not shy away from the negative aspects of the Empire and highlights the deep injustices of the late 19th century scramble for Africa. However, in conclusion there is a strong sense that the end justifies the means and this was somehow a painful but necessary part of the creation of the modern world. I would certainly recommend the book both for its historical overview, as well as a clear example for those outside (or inside) Britain who want to understand the modern British attachment to the Empire and how traditionalist elements of society would like the Empire to be remembered.
8 of 9 people found this review helpful
By Elaine on 01-01-18
Superb book. Entertaining, informative and well written. To crown it all it is also beautifully read.
My only gripe is that it fails to recognise (as many books by British authors do) why Ireland chose neutrality in WW2. This was done to avert a return to civil war. A very real possibility at the time. Also, no recognition is given to the fact that while technically neutral Irish neutrality was heavily skewed in favour of the Allies.
However, the book remains an excellent and absorbing piece of work.
2 of 3 people found this review helpful
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Dorothy on 04-11-17
Such a great listen - What a History Lesson
I have listened to Niall Ferguson's book "Civilization" three times. I know I will do the same with this book. There is so much in this book which remains pertinent to the situations and times we are witnessing and living in today. This book pieced together and explained so many shadowy yet prevalent cultural happenings such as the Boar War and Gallipoli: things I knew the NAMES of but really had no understanding of why they had happened or what their importance meant to current events.
While there is much that was arrogant and even brutal about the British Empire, Mr, Ferguson explains the origins and outcomes in an even handed way. The book is written in an easy to comprehend manner, it is not a boring academic tome that people who lack a Phd can understand or enjoy.
I can't emphasize enough how amazing Jonathan Keeble is as a narrator. He is pitch perfect. I often look for his books because he seems to make anything he reads even better. I basically listened to this book in one sitting. It was very, very good.
22 of 23 people found this review helpful
By Dennis Arve Wilkinson on 18-01-18
It wasn’t all bad was it?
Empire building is not a popular idea today. It smacks of abuse and extortion
Ferguson breaks down the good the bad and the ugly of the British Empire, but doesn’t conclude with the expected thumbs down. It’s more of a thumbs sideways perhaps even pointed a little upwards. Can he do that? Both his primary source stories and his reasons are worth listening to!
6 of 6 people found this review helpful