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Publisher's Summary

John Darwin's After Tamerlane, a sweeping six-hundred-year history of empires around the globe, marked him as a historian of "massive erudition" and narrative mastery.

In Unfinished Empire, he marshals his gifts to deliver a monumental one-volume history of Britain's imperium - a work that is sure to stand as the most authoritative, most compelling treatment of the subject for a generation.

Darwin unfurls the British Empire's beginnings and decline and its extraordinary range of forms of rule, from settler colonies to island enclaves, from the princely states of India to ramshackle trading posts. His penetrating analysis offers a corrective to those who portray the empire as either naked exploitation or a grand "civilizing mission."

Far from ever having a "master plan," the British Empire was controlled by a range of interests often at loggerheads with one another and was as much driven on by others' weaknesses as by its own strength. It shows, too, that the empire was never stable: to govern was a violent process, inevitably creating wars and rebellions. Unfinished Empire is a remarkable, nuanced history of the most complex polity the world has ever known, and a serious attempt to describe the diverse, contradictory ways - from the military to the cultural - in which empires really function.

This is essential reading for any lover of sweeping history, or anyone wishing to understand how the modern world came into being.

©2012 John Darwin (P)2013 Audible, Inc.

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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Great History of the British Empire

Would you consider the audio edition of Unfinished Empire to be better than the print version?

Probably a tossup

What did you like best about this story?

Learning about the early days of the British Empire

Have you listened to any of Alex Hyde-White’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

No

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

No, too long.

Any additional comments?

Very illuminating on the justifications for Empire. Basically, no matter how much governments say they want to help 'backward' peoples, they are just in it for the money.

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Perfect

I want to understand the empire. It 25 hours, but now I do. That is all I need to say

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Good Read

I thought this was a fair and even handed review of the British empire. The trend these days is to blame empire for all of the problems and issues that former colonies are having, and to debase the motives of all involved in the creation of empire.
John Darwin takes a more honest look at the creation of empire and does an admirable job of presenting the motives and events that lead to the creation of empire.
This book is an overview, so occasionally lacks depth in some areas, and assumes a lot of knowledge on the readers part. Probably not the best book to start with, but if you are familiar with the British empire it is worth the read.

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  • J.
  • Moorhead, MN, United States
  • 05-13-14

Somewhat workmenlike

Darwin covers the bases, but there's not much new insight here. I found myself wanting more.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful