Britain's Empire, By Richard Gott


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The Independent Culture

Anyone unpersuaded by the latterday imperialism of Niall Ferguson et al will relish this eye-opening panorama of a institution "maintained through bloodshed, violence, brutality, conquest and war".

From the 30,000 killed in the Great Irish Rebellion of 1798 to the 50 unarmed Aborigines shot in 1804, page after page is drenched in blood.

Cherished beliefs about liberal Britain are undermined: after slavery was abolished, the "seizure of Africans for the armed forces continued".

Gott's sobering account ends in 1858 but there seems no shortage of material for a sequel.