The Pax Britannica trilogy is Jan Morris’s magnificent history of the British Empire from 1837 to 1965. Huge in scope and ambition, it is always personal and immediate, bringing the story vividly to life. Pax Britannica, the second volume, is a snapshot of the Empire at the Diamond Jubilee of 1897. It looks at what made up the Empire —from adventurers and politicians to communications and infrastructure, as well as anomalies and eccentricities. This humane overview also examines the muddle of jumbled ideologies behind it, and how it affected its 370 million people.
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Part two of Jan Morris’ eponymous history of the British Empire focuses on Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee of 1897, a year which in many ways represented the zenith of Britain’s economic, cultural, and political influence. Sonorous English actor Roy McMillan is regal and fluid as he presents Morris’ vibrant tapestry of anecdotes and testimonies. At the fin de siècle the British Empire included roughly a quarter of the world’s population and territory. British industrial capacity exceeded that of her competitors, as did her military might. Likewise, Victorian music and literature captivated audiences far beyond the empire’s borders. Morris’ history delivers a series of snapshots from Britain’s golden age, its stories and incidents combining to form a celebration as rich and varied as the queen’s jubilee.
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