If you like history, complete with poetry and context, you will love this series! Jan Morris visited most of the locations he writes about and since ..Show More »that was in the '50's and '60's, we have a very interesting half way view to "what has happened" since. Halfway through, I started following the action on Google Earth, what a perspective! Some of these islands are so remote, I can't believe anyone knew about them, yet here they are with capitals like Victoria and Salisbury. I feel like I have been on a trip around the world in 50 hours. If Mr. Morris had written our history books, I may have paid more attention in HS. The author shows the Empire from all sides that represent themselves in the English attitudes of the day. Last but not least, Roy Mcmillan reads like a movie, voices of Kipling, Shaw, and Gandhi just to name a very few are as true as the cockney of the sailor and accent of the bartender down under. Truly this is one of the very best "stories/histories/audiobooks" I have ever listened to (I am getting close the my first 100). I hope you get it and enjoy it as much as I did. PS, the author does the forward, his voice is much less compelling than the reader, so do not be put off by the introduction as his voice is stilted and slightly muffled compared to Mr. McMillan's. Please enjoy.
In this, the second volume of Jan Morris's history of the British Empire, we are given a masterful overview of the British Empire on one specific day...Show More » That day is June 22, 1897 - the date of Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee (the 60th anniversary of her reign). Mr. Morris chooses this date as the ascendant point of the British Empire.
This book is a tour-De-force of history as it surveys almost every conceivable angle of the Empire as it stood on this one day. This covers not just the physical condition of the people in England, imperialists at work in the Empire, and the people who were being ruled - but their attitudes, literature, music, arts, military capabilities, and more.
There are so many things to recommend about this trilogy, but one of the most impressive is how many places Mr. Morris physically visited while putting it together. This gives its descriptions, which are lavish and highly evocative, a "been there" authority. Of course, we only know when an empire is at its peak when its decline is in view, but given that this book was originally written in the late 1960's Mr. Morris's choice of this date seems very prescient.
And it must be noted that the narrator - Roy McMillan - is simply brilliant in his performance.
This third volume in the Pax Britannica series picks up the story following Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee on June 22 1897 and takes it forward to th..Show More »e death of Winston Churchill in 1965. Of course, it didn't immediately seem that the British Empire was in any sort of decline. Following World War I, the empire was larger than it had ever been with the additions of Iraq and Palestine and Arabia.
However, the carnage of the Great War (as it was then known) had sapped all the confidence from the English people and their conviction that they had the right to rule other people. Not all of them, as the ones living in the colonial possessions in India and Southeast Asia and Africa - but the conviction that powers an imperialism had gone away.
As always Jan Morris moves this wonderful history along with many personal observations from those who had actually been in India and Singapore and Port Siad. The sights, smells, prejudices, and actions of empire are beautifully documented. After World War II (or as this history calls it "the last great imperial war') the British subdivided India and skedaddled in 73 short days in 1947 leaving carnage behind as India's peoples killed each other with ferocity. And from then on they gave away their empire just as quickly as they could. Even Churchill couldn't stop the tide, and by the time of his death empire and colonialism were considered anachronistic.
This wonderful and compelling story is superbly narrated by Roy McMillan. His work on this trilogy has made me look for other things he has narrated simply because of his terrific work.