Nelson A. Denis tells this powerful story through the controversial life of Pedro Albizu Campos, who served as the president of the Nationalist Party. A lawyer, chemical engineer, and the first Puerto Rican to graduate from Harvard Law School, Albizu Campos was imprisoned for twenty-five years and died under mysterious circumstances. By tracing his life and death, Denis shows how the journey of Albizu Campos is part of a larger story of Puerto Rico and US colonialism.
Through oral histories, personal interviews, eyewitness accounts, congressional testimony, and recently declassified FBI files, War Against All Puerto Ricans tells the story of a forgotten revolution and its context in Puerto Rico's history, from the US invasion in 1898 to the modern-day struggle for self-determination. Denis provides an unflinching account of the gunfights, prison riots, political intrigue, FBI and CIA covert activity, and mass hysteria that accompanied this tumultuous period in Puerto Rican history.
--The New York Times Book Review
Finalist for the Pulitzer Prize in history
New York Times Book Review Top Ten books of the Year
How did America begin? That simple question launches the acclaimed author of Bunker Hill and Valiant Ambition on an extraordinary journey to understand the truth behind our most sacred national myth: the voyage of the Mayflower and the settlement of Plymouth Colony. As Philbrick reveals in this electrifying history of the Pilgrims, the story of Plymouth Colony was a fifty-five year epic that began in peril and ended in war. New England erupted into a bloody conflict that nearly wiped out the English colonists and natives alike. These events shaped the existing communites and the country that would grow from them.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
George Washington – a figure synonymous with American history. His image is known worldwide, marked on American currency, postage stamps – even a state is named after him. George Washington in an Hour explores the man beneath the symbol. This is the essential chronicle of Washington’s life – his rise from middle class Virginian upbringing to America’s first President, elected unanimously twice.
Explore Washington’s legacy – from securing Independence, to his instrumental role in writing and adopting the American constitution. George Washington in an Hour covers Washington’s redefinition of greatness, relinquishing power not once but twice – at the end of Revolution and his second term in Presidency. Learn why Washington is still considered one of the most influential people in history, and how his impact shaped the world in this engaging overview of his life.
Love history? Know your stuff with History in an Hour...
Vansina’s case study of the colonial experience is the realm of Kuba, a kingdom in Congo about the size of New Jersey—and two-thirds the size of its colonial master, Belgium. The experience of its inhabitants is the story of colonialism, from its earliest manifestations to its tumultuous end. What happened in Kuba happened to varying degrees throughout Africa and other colonized regions: racism, economic exploitation, indirect rule, Christian conversion, modernization, disease and healing, and transformations in gender relations. The Kuba, like others, took their own active part in history, responding to the changes and calamities that colonization set in motion. Vansina follows the region’s inhabitants from the late nineteenth century to the middle of the twentieth century, when a new elite emerged on the eve of Congo’s dramatic passage to independence.
Land was another prize. The Romans relied on their colonies in northern Africa for vital grain shipments to feed the population of Rome. Arab invaders followed in their wake, eventually colonizing the entire region. More recently, foreign corporations have acquired huge tracts of land to secure food supplies needed abroad, just as the Romans did.
In this vast and vivid panorama of history, Martin Meredith follows the fortunes of Africa over a period of 5,000 years. With compelling narrative, he traces the rise and fall of ancient kingdoms and empires; the spread of Christianity and Islam; the enduring quest for gold and other riches; the exploits of explorers and missionaries; and the impact of European colonization. He examines, too, the fate of modern African states and concludes with a glimpse of their future.
His cast of characters includes religious leaders, mining magnates, warlords, dictators, and many other legendary figures—among them Mansa Musa, ruler of the medieval Mali empire, said to be the richest man the world has ever known. “I speak of Africa,” Shakespeare wrote, “and of golden joys.” This is history on an epic scale.
Along with French General Jean-Baptiste Rochambeau, George Washington made an astonishing march through New Jersey and trapped British General Charles Cornwallis and his forces in Yorktown, Virginia, where they unleashed a tremendous artillery assault, with the support of the French navy. But victory was never certain - both sides made a series of dramatic attacks and counterattacks.
Using the diaries and letters of participants in the siege, Fleming creates a moving and exciting depiction of the days in October 1781 that ended the American Revolution and changed the world.
Bernal Díaz del Castillo, himself a soldier under Cortes, presents a fascinatingly detailed description of the Spanish landing in Mexico in 1520 and their amazement at the city, the exploitation of the natives for gold and other treasures, the expulsion and flight of the Spaniards, their regrouping and eventual capture of the Aztec capital.
One of the sisters joined a rebel army, was imprisoned in Edinburgh Castle, and escaped in disguise in 1746. Her younger brother was a close friend of Adam Smith and David Hume. Another brother was fluent in Persian and Bengali, and married to a celebrated poet. He was the owner of a slave known only as "Bell or Belinda," who journeyed from Calcutta to Virginia, was accused in Scotland of infanticide, and was the last person judged to be a slave by a court in the British isles. In Grenada, India, Jamaica, and Florida, the Johnstones embodied the connections between European, American, and Asian empires. Their family history offers insights into a time when distinctions between the public and private, home and overseas, and slavery and servitude were in constant flux.
Based on multiple archives, documents, and letters, The Inner Life of Empires looks at one family's complex story to describe the origins of the modern political, economic, and intellectual world.
Each chapter begins with the story of one woman whose experience illuminates some larger theme of the book. In this way, it becomes clear that the politics of military rule were highly relevant to women and gender relations, just as the politics of gender were central to militarism. By drawing upon critical security studies, feminist studies, and violence studies, Decker demonstrates that Amin’s dictatorship was far more complex and his rule much more strategic than most observers have ever imagined.
How should the United States act in the world? Americans cannot decide. Sometimes we burn with righteous anger, launching foreign wars and deposing governments. Then we retreat—until the cycle begins again.
No matter how often we debate this question, none of what we say is original. Every argument is a pale shadow of the first and greatest debate, which erupted more than a century ago. Its themes resurface every time Americans argue whether to intervene in a foreign country.
Revealing a piece of forgotten history, Stephen Kinzer transports us to the dawn of the twentieth century, when the United States first found itself with the chance to dominate faraway lands. That prospect thrilled some Americans. It horrified others. Their debate gripped the nation.
The country’s best-known political and intellectual leaders took sides. Theodore Roosevelt, Henry Cabot Lodge, and William Randolph Hearst pushed for imperial expansion; Mark Twain, Booker T. Washington, and Andrew Carnegie preached restraint. Only once before—in the period when the United States was founded—have so many brilliant Americans so eloquently debated a question so fraught with meaning for all humanity.
All Americans, regardless of political perspective, can take inspiration from the titans who faced off in this epic confrontation. Their words are amazingly current. Every argument over America’s role in the world grows from this one. It all starts here.
The truth, as Kwarteng reveals, is that there was no such thing as a model for imperial administration; instead, appointees were schooled in quirky, independent-minded individuality. As a result the Empire was the product not of a grand idea but of often chaotic individual improvisation. The idosyncracies of viceroys and soldier-diplomats who ran the colonial enterprise continues to impact the world, from Kashmir to Sudan, Baghdad to Hong Kong.
The varied accounts in Under the Black Umbrella reveal a truth that is both more ambiguous and more human—the small-scale, mundane realities of life in colonial Korea. Accessible and attractive narratives, linked by brief historical overviews, provide a large and fully textured view of Korea under Japanese rule. Looking past racial hatred and repression, Kang reveals small acts of resistance carried out by Koreans, as well as gestures of fairness by Japanese colonizers. Impressive for the history it recovers and preserves, Under the Black Umbrella is a candid, human account of a complicated time in a contested place.
While Jefferson is better remembered today, it is actually Hamilton’s political legacy that has triumphed--a legacy that has subverted the Constitution and transformed the federal government into the very leviathan state that our forefathers fought against in the American Revolution. How did we go from the Jeffersonian ideal of limited government to the bloated imperialist system of Hamilton’s design? Acclaimed economic historian, Thomas J. DiLorenzo reveals how Hamilton, first as a delegate to the Constitutional Convention and later as the nation’s first and most influential treasury secretary, masterfully promoted an agenda of nationalist glory and interventionist economics. These core beliefs did not die with Hamilton in his fatal duel with Aaron Burr, but were carried on through his political heirs.
The Hamiltonian legacy wrested control into the hands of the federal government by inventing the myth of the Constitution’s “implied powers, transforming state governments from Jeffersonian bulwarks of liberty to beggars for federal crumbs. It also devised a national banking system that imposes boom-and-bust cycles on the American economy; saddled Americans with a massive national debt and oppressive taxation, and pushed economic policies that lined the pockets of the wealthy and created a government system built on graft, spoils, and patronage.
By debunking the Hamiltonian myths, DiLorenzo exposes an uncomfortable truth: the American people are no longer the masters of their government but its servants. Only by restoring a system based on Jeffersonian ideals can Hamilton’s curse be lifted, at last.
Now, for the first time, Lindqvist’s most beloved works are available in one beautiful and affordable volume with a new introduction by Adam Hochschild. The Dead Do Not Die includes the full unabridged text of "Exterminate All the Brutes", called "a book of stunning range and near genius" by David Levering Lewis. In this work, Lindqvist uses Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness as a point of departure for a haunting tour through the colonial past, retracing the steps of Europeans in Africa from the late eighteenth century onward and thus exposing the roots of genocide via his own journey through the Saharan desert.
The full text of Terra Nullius is also included, for which Lindqvist traveled 7,000 miles through Australia in search of the lands the British had claimed as their own because it was inhabited by "lower races," the native Aborigines—nearly nine-tenths of whom were annihilated by whites. The shocking story of how "no man’s land" became the province of the white man was called "the most original work on Australia and its treatment of Aboriginals I have ever read . . . marvelous" by Phillip Knightley, author of Australia.
With the passing of Nelson Mandela, ‘the father of the nation’, comes the end of an era, and the moment to look back on his remarkable saving, and remaking, of South Africa. After years of oppression and racial inequality, concentrated violence and apartheid, Mandela led the country to unite ‘for the freedom of us all’ as the country’s first black President.
SOUTH AFRICA: HISTORY IN AN HOUR gives a lively account of the formation of modern South Africa, from the first contact with seventeenth-century European sailors, through the colonial era, the Boer Wars, apartheid and the establishment of a tolerant democracy in the late twentieth century. Here is a clear and fascinating overview of the emergence of the ‘Rainbow Nation’.
Know your stuff: read about South African history in just one hour.
National Book Award winner Nathaniel Philbrick and his father, Thomas Philbrick, present the most significant and readable original works that were used in the writing of Mayflower, offering a definitive look at a crucial era of America's history. The selections include William Bradford's "Of Plymouth Plantation" (1651), the most comprehensive of all contemporary accounts of settlement in seventeenth-century America; Benjamin Church's "Entertaining Passages Relating to Philip's War 1716," an eye-opening account from Church's field notes from battle; and much more. Providing explanatory notes for every piece, the editors have vividly re-created the world of seventeenth-century New England for anyone interested in the early history of our nation.
For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The essays look at such issues as imaginary utopian perspectives leading to the 1856-57 Xhosa Cattle Killing in South Africa, the functioning racist utopia behind the Rhodesian independence movement, the utopia of the peaceful atom and its global dissemination in the mid-1950s, the possibilities for an everyday utopia in modern cities, and how the Stalinist purges of the 1930s served as an extension of the utopian/dystopian relationship.
The contributors are Dipesh Chakrabarty, Igal Halfin, Fredric Jameson, John Krige, Timothy Mitchell, Aditya Nigam, David Pinder, Marci Shore, Jennifer Wenzel, and Luise White.
In this wide-ranging, intellectually vigorous study, Said traces the origins of "orientalism" to the centuries-long period during which Europe dominated the Middle and Near East and, from its position of power, defined "the orient" simply as "other than" the occident. This entrenched view continues to dominate western ideas and, because it does not allow the East to represent itself, prevents true understanding. Essential, and still eye-opening, Orientalism remains one of the most important books written about our divided world.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, as the Western powers built empires that stretched from Australia to the West Indies, Western artists created masterpieces ranging from Mansfield Park to Heart of Darkness and Aida. Yet most cultural critics continue to see these phenomena as separate. Edward Said looks at these works alongside those of such writers as W. B. Yeats, Chinua Achebe, and Salman Rushdie to show how subject peoples produced their own vigorous cultures of opposition and resistance. Vast in scope and stunning in its erudition, Culture and Imperialism reopens the dialogue between literature and the life of its time.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
The essays in this volume explore the diverse repercussions of this event, tracing the diplomatic, intellectual, and sociocultural histories that have emanated from it. Making a World after Empire consequently addresses the complex intersection of postcolonial history and cold war history and speaks to contemporary discussions of Afro-Asianism, empire, and decolonization, thus reestablishing the conference's importance in twentieth-century global history.
Contributors: Michael Adas, Laura Bier, James R. Brennan, G. Thomas Burgess, Antoinette Burton, Dipesh Chakrabarty, Julian Go, Christopher J. Lee, Jamie Monson, Jeremy Prestholdt, Denis M. Tull
Black Skin, White Coats is the first work to focus primarily on black Africans as producers of psychiatric knowledge and as definers of mental illness in their own right. By examining the ways that Nigerian psychiatrists worked to integrate their psychiatric training with their indigenous backgrounds and cultural and civic nationalisms, Black Skin, White Coats provides a foil to Frantz Fanon’s widely publicized reactionary articulations of the relationship between colonialism and psychiatry. Black Skin, White Coats is also on the cutting edge of histories of psychiatry that are increasingly drawing connections between local and national developments in late-colonial and postcolonial settings and international scientific networks. Heaton argues that Nigerian psychiatrists were intimately aware of the need to engage in international discourses as part and parcel of the transformation of psychiatry at home.
For four years as her newspaper's Johannesburg bureau chief, Lynne Duke cut a rare figure as a black American woman foreign correspondent as she raced from story to story in numerous countries of central and southern Africa. From the battle zones of Congo-Zaire to the quest for truth and reconciliation in South Africa; from the teeming displaced person’s camps of Angola and the killing field of the Rwanda genocide to the calming Indian Ocean shores of Mozambique. She interviewed heads of state, captains of industry, activists, tribal leaders, medicine men and women, mercenaries, rebels, refugees, and ordinary, hardworking people. And it is they, the ordinary people of Africa, who fueled the hope and affection that drove Duke’s reporting. The nobility of the ordinary African struggles, so often absent from accounts of the continent, is at the heart of Duke’s searing story.
MANDELA, MOBUTU, AND ME is a richly detailed, clear-eyed account of the hard realities Duke discovered, including the devastation wrought by ruthless, rapacious dictators like Mobutu Sese Seko and his successor, Laurent Kabila, in the Congo, and appalling indifference of Europeans and Americans to the legacy of their own exploitation of the continent and its people. But Duke also records with admiration the visionary leadership and personal style of Nelson Mandela in south Africa as he led his country’s inspiring transition from apartheid in the twilight of his incredible life.
Whether it was touring underground gold and copper mines, learning to carry water on her head, filing stories by flashlight or dodging gunmen, Duke’s tour of Africa reveals not only the spirit and travails of an amazing but troubled continent -- it also explores the heart and fearlessness of a dedicated journalist.
From the Hardcover edition.
Twelve years later it was the brilliant Herbert Kitchener who struck back. Achieving the impossible he built a railway across the desert to transport his troops to the final devastating confrontation at Omdurman in 1898.
Desert explorer and author Michael Asher has reconstructed this classic tale in vivid detail. Having covered every inch of the ground and examined all eyewitness reports, he brings to bear new evidence questioning several accepted aspects of the story. The result is an account that sheds new light on the most riveting tale of honour, courage, revenge and savagery of late Victorian times.
GREAT IDEAS. Throughout history, some books have changed the world. They have transformed the way we see ourselves - and each other. They have inspired debate, dissent, war and revolution. They have enlightened, outraged, provoked and comforted. They have enriched lives - and destroyed them. Now Penguin brings you the works of the great thinkers, pioneers, radicals and visionaries whose ideas shook civilization and helped make us who we are.
Amid massacres and poisonings, plunder and multinational intrigue, two themes emerge: the grinding down of the Aborigines during the long rivalries of the El Dorado quest and, two hundred years later, the man-made horror of slavery. An accumulation of casual, awful detail takes us as close as we can get to day-to-day life in the slave colony, where, in spite of various titles of nobility, only an opportunistic, near-lawless community exists, always fearful of slave suicide or poison, of African sorcery and revolt. Naipaul tells this labyrinthine story with assurance, withering irony, and lively sympathy. The result is historical writing at its highest level.
The authors show that the oft-told narrative of a monolithic imperial power ruling inexorably over passive African victims no longer stands scrutiny; rather, at every turn, Africans and Britons interacted with one another in a complex set of relationships that involved as much cooperation and negotiation as resistance and force, whether during the era of the slave trade, the world wars, or the period of decolonization. The British presence provoked a wide range of responses, reactions, and transformations in various aspects of African life; but at the same time, the experience of empire in Africa – and its ultimate collapse – also compelled the British to view themselves and their empire in new ways.
Written by an Africanist and a historian of imperial Britain and illustrated with maps and photographs, Africans and Britons in the Age of Empires, 1660-1980 provides a uniquely rich perspective for understanding both African and British history.
In recent years, one book after another has sought to take the measure of the Bush administration's aggressive foreign policy. In their search for precedents, they invoke the Roman and British empires as well as postwar reconstructions of Germany and Japan. Yet they consistently ignore the one place where the United States had its most formative imperial experience: Latin America.
A brilliant excavation of a long-obscured history, Empire's Workshop is the first book to show how Latin America has functioned as a laboratory for American extraterritorial rule. Historian Greg Grandin follows the United States' imperial operations, from Thomas Jefferson's aspirations for an "empire of liberty" in Cuba and Spanish Florida, to Ronald Reagan's support for brutally oppressive but U.S.-friendly regimes in Central America. He traces the origins of Bush's policies to Latin America, where many of the administration's leading lights—John Negroponte, Elliott Abrams, Otto Reich—first embraced the deployment of military power to advance free-market economics and first enlisted the evangelical movement in support of their ventures.
With much of Latin America now in open rebellion against U.S. domination, Grandin concludes with a vital question: If Washington has failed to bring prosperity and democracy to Latin America—its own backyard "workshop"—what are the chances it will do so for the world?
Reinforcing a broad range of Western assumptions and prejudices, Eleanor M. Hight and Gary D. Sampson argue that such images often assisted in the construction of a colonial culture.
The father of the U.S. president, the first Barack Hussein Obama, was born in rural poverty in Kenya. His own father was a dominating figure who worked as a cook for the British colonists and broke with Luo tradition when he converted to the Muslim faith. Their household was a severe one from which Barack's mother fled in fear for her life. Despite such domestic turmoil, Barack was as fiercely smart as he was intrepid. Admitted to one of Kenya's premiere private schools, he was later thrown out for his defiant behavior.
Adrift in the political churning of Kenya's pre-independence days, Barack attracted the interest of an American literacy worker who took him under her wing. By day, they worked on the literacy primers that would change the lives of illiterate Africans. By night, they often went dancing in the full glare of disapproval of those racially segregated times. She helped him prepare for college in America and in 1959 paid his first year's tuition at the University of Hawaii.
The first African student on the UH campus, Barack stood out in many respects. One of those was the young white woman, Ann Dunham, whom he began to date. A year after they met, the couple had a son named Barack Hussein Obama II. Barack did not tell his young wife about the two children he had left behind in Kenya, nor did he tell university authorities about his family back home until much later. Luos were often polygamous and Obama saw no need to part with custom.
At Harvard University, Barack joined the academic elite and prepared to take his place among the big men in newly independent Kenya. But Barack's experience at Harvard was emblematic of a life that seesawed between high hopes and cruel frustrations, many of them self-inflicted in drunken furies. Yet the charm, the intellectual brilliance, and the fierce pride in his vision of independent Kenya never flagged. He was a bold and reckless man, whose life courted controversy and ultimately veered fatally out of his control. He was heroic in his ambition, deeply flawed, and, extraordinarily, the father of an American president, the other Barack.
Written in an entertaining, educational and assessible style, this biography is an accurate and well-researched portrayal of the man behind the uprising. Including the latest archival evidence, James Connolly is part of the Sixteen Lives series which looks at the events, lives and deeds of the sixteen men executed for their role in Ireland’s Easter 1916 Rising.
While he captures the tragedies that have repeatedly befallen Africa’s peoples, French also opens our eyes to the immense possibility that lies in Africa’s complexity, diversity, and myriad cultural strengths. The culmination of twenty-five years of passionate exploration and understanding, this is a powerful and ultimately hopeful book about a fascinating and misunderstood continent.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
Scotland is served by 37 national or daily newspapers. Not one supports independence. (The only publication to back a Yes vote is a weekly, the Sunday Herald.) Newspapers have no duty to be fair or balanced, but when Scotland faces a decision as big as the one it’ll make on September 18th, the press being so overwhelmingly skewed to one side is a problem for democracy.
Our website, Wings Over Scotland, is biased too. We support independence, because we think it’ll make Scotland a wealthier, fairer, happier place. We think Scotland will be better off choosing its own governments to solve its problems and make the most of its opportunities, rather than hoping that the people of Kent, Surrey and Essex might elect ones with Scotland’s interests at heart.
We think the facts comprehensively back that belief up. But we’re not going to ask you to take our word for it.
A very great deal of what you’ve been told about independence in the last few years by Unionist politicians and the media is, to be blunt, a tissue of half-truths, omissions, misrepresentations and flat-out lies. We want to show you the truth hidden behind those lies, but using fully-referenced and impartial sources that you can go and check for yourself.
We’ll be mostly using the UK government’s own figures, the views of academic experts and Unionist politicians and officials, NOT those who support independence.
On September the 18th you’re going to have to make the most important decision any Scot in history has ever made, and it seems only fair that you should be able to do it based on the real and full facts. Scotland’s media has only told you one half of the story. Don’t you at least want to hear both sides before you decide?
Rev. Stuart Campbell
Editor, Wings Over Scotland
Award-winning journalist and author Michael Foley recounts the extraordinary story of Bloody Sunday in Croke Park and the 90 seconds of shooting that changed Ireland forever. In a deeply intimate portrait he tells for the first time the stories of those killed, the police and military personnel who were in Croke Park that day, and the families left shattered in its aftermath, all against the backdrop of a fierce conflict that stretched from the streets of Dublin and the hedgerows of Tipperary to the halls of Westminster.
To fully understand both the social and political pressures wracking contemporary France—and, indeed, all of Europe—as well as major events from the Arab Spring in the Middle East to the tensions in Mali, Andrew Hussey believes that we have to look beyond the confines of domestic horizons. As much as unemployment, economic stagnation, and social deprivation exacerbate the ongoing turmoil in the banlieues, the root of the problem lies elsewhere: in the continuing fallout from Europe's colonial era.
Combining a fascinating and compulsively readable mix of history, literature, and politics with his years of personal experience visiting the banlieues and countries across the Arab world, especially Algeria, Hussey attempts to make sense of the present situation. In the course of teasing out the myriad interconnections between past and present in Algeria, Morocco, Tunisia, Beirut, and Western Europe, The French Intifada shows that the defining conflict of the twenty-first century will not be between Islam and the West but between two dramatically different experiences of the world—the colonizers and the colonized.
When the Indian people, inspired by the words of Mahatma Gandhi, overthrew British rule, they proved that great political change could exist without violence. Revered both as a saint and a master politician in his native country, Gandhi proffered a philosophy that combined Thoreau’s doctrine of civil disobedience with many Hindu beliefs. A comprehensive introduction to this influential modern thinker, The Wisdom of Gandhi recounts his deeply held views on a variety of topics, including passive resistance, self-discipline, democracy, and even well-being. This is essential text for the history and political reader, as well as anyone looking for words to inspire change.
Colonial lands, which in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century included most of Africa, South and Southeast Asia and the islands of the Pacific and Indian Oceans and the Caribbean, provided a haven for many Europeans whose sexual inclinations did not fit neatly into the constraints of European society.
Each of the case-studies is a micro-history of a particular colonial situation, a sexual encounter, and its wider implications for cultural and political life. Students both of colonial history, and of gender and queer studies, will find this an informative read.
In this acute and witty analysis, Jeremy Paxman, bestselling author of The English goes to the very heart of empire. As he describes the selection process for colonial officers ('intended to weed out the cad, the feeble and the too clever') the importance of sport, the sweating domestic life of the colonial officer's wife ('the challenge with cooking meat was "to grasp the fleeting moment between toughness and putrefaction when the joint may possibly prove eatable"') and the crazed end for General Gordon of Khartoum, Paxman brings brilliantly to life the tragedy and comedy of Empire and reveals its profound and lasting effect on our nation and ourselves.