Kwasi Kwarteng is the child of parents whose lives were shaped as subjects of the British Empire, first in their native Ghana, then as British immigrants. He brings a unique perspective and impeccable academic credentials to a narrative history of the British Empire, one that avoids sweeping judgmental condemnation and instead sees the Empire for what it was: a series of local fiefdoms administered in varying degrees of competence or brutality by a cast of characters as outsized and eccentric as anything conjured by Gilbert and Sullivan.
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.
©2012 Kwasi Kwarteng (P)2012 Audible, Inc.
"Kwarteng effectively illustrates the effects of empire in a forceful and thorough book that holds important lessons for today’s leaders - in particular that the cost of invading and occupying a country always exceeds expectations." (Kirkus Reviews)
"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." (The New Republic)
“Kwasi Kwarteng, in this fine book, argues that the empire granted far too much authority to the wrong people. ‘Accidents and decisions made on a personal, almost whimsical, level have had a massive impact on international politics,' Kwarteng writes. Ghosts of Empire explores six cases where this impact was felt: Iraq, Nigeria, Sudan, Hong Kong, Kashmir, and Burma. This is a list without many success stories, and Kwarteng, who is a Conservative member of Parliament with Ghanaian parents and who claims to want to transcend ‘sterile’ debates about the empire, ends up making a damning case…. Kwarteng is critical but not patronizing, allowing the reader to grasp the motivations of the British while simultaneously seeing the shortcomings of their decisions.” (New York Times Book Review)
My reading and listening tastes are eclectic.
Great listen while I was packing up to move. I really liked the insight into how different ways places were treated after colonization had impact on how the nation following has coped with its independence.
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