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The Empire Project
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  • Cited by 85
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    This book has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Steer, Philip 2018. The historians, the literary critics, and the Victorian settler empire. Literature Compass, Vol. 15, Issue. 5, p. e12466.

    Dabi, Tajen 2018. Medicine in British Frontier Policy. Indian Historical Review, Vol. 45, Issue. 1, p. 124.

    Schulze, Simon 2018. Postkolonialismus und Dekolonisation in den Internationalen Beziehungen. Zeitschrift für Politikwissenschaft, Vol. 28, Issue. 2, p. 233.

    Chin, Rachel 2018. The Levant mandates and Charles de Gaulle’s provisional government: power, culture and messages of imperial reform. European Review of History: Revue européenne d'histoire, Vol. 25, Issue. 2, p. 312.

    Rossiter, Ash 2018. Getting Out of Belize: Britain’s Intractable Military Exit from Central America. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, p. 1.

    Black, Jack 2018. The United Kingdom and British Empire: a figurational approach. Rethinking History, Vol. 22, Issue. 1, p. 3.

    Hadjiathanasiou, Maria 2018. Colonial Rule, Cultural Relations and the British Council in Cyprus, 1935–55. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, p. 1.

    Spracklen, Karl 2018. Leisure, Popular Culture and Memory: The Invention of Dark Age Britain, Wales, England, and Middle-Earth in the Songs of Led Zeppelin. International Journal of the Sociology of Leisure, Vol. 1, Issue. 2, p. 139.

    Patience, Allan 2018. Australian Foreign Policy in Asia. p. 51.

    Callinicos, Alex 2017. Britain and Europe on the geopolitical roller-coaster. Competition & Change, Vol. 21, Issue. 3, p. 185.

    Phillipson, Robert 2017. Myths and realities of ‘global’ English. Language Policy, Vol. 16, Issue. 3, p. 313.

    Dubow, Saul 2017. The Commonwealth and South Africa: From Smuts to Mandela. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 45, Issue. 2, p. 284.

    De Keersmaeker, Goedele 2017. Polarity, Balance of Power and International Relations Theory. p. 67.

    Edgar, Robert and Houser, Myra Ann 2017. “The most patient of animals, next to the ass:” Jan Smuts, Howard University, and African American Leadership, 1930. Safundi, Vol. 18, Issue. 1, p. 29.

    Highmore, Ben 2017. A Companion to Critical and Cultural Theory. p. 327.

    Markham, Ben 2017. The Challenge to ‘Informal’ Empire: Argentina, Chile and British Policy-Makers in the Immediate Aftermath of the First World War. The Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History, Vol. 45, Issue. 3, p. 449.

    Smith, Andrew 2016. The winds of change and the end of the Comprador System in the Hongkong and Shanghai Banking Corporation. Business History, Vol. 58, Issue. 2, p. 179.

    Rasch, Astrid 2016. Life Writing After Empire. Life Writing, Vol. 13, Issue. 2, p. 163.

    Evans, Stephen 2016. The English Language in Hong Kong. p. 53.

    Farrell, Brian P. 2016. The Encyclopedia of Empire. p. 1.


Book description

The British Empire, wrote Adam Smith, 'has hitherto been not an empire, but the project of an empire' and John Darwin offers a magisterial global history of the rise and fall of that great imperial project. The British Empire, he argues, was much more than a group of colonies ruled over by a scattering of British expatriates until eventual independence. It was, above all, a global phenomenon. Its power derived rather less from the assertion of imperial authority than from the fusing together of three different kinds of empire: the settler empire of the 'white dominions'; the commercial empire of the City of London; and 'Greater India' which contributed markets, manpower and military muscle. This unprecedented history charts how this intricate imperial web was first strengthened, then weakened and finally severed on the rollercoaster of global economic, political and geostrategic upheaval on which it rode from beginning to end.


‘… a tour de force. Never before have the dynamics of the British Empire been analysed with such deep knowledge and penetrating insight.'

Piers Brendon - author of The Decline and Fall of the British Empire

'The Empire Project is a brilliant and highly readable account of one of the great themes in modern history. It will attract the general reader as well as fellow historians because of the sweep of the narrative from the early part of the nineteenth century to the end of Empire in the 1970s. It possesses compelling insight into the links between India, the 'white dominions' and the colonial dependencies throughout the world. This is a life's work and a landmark in the subject.'

Wm. Roger Louis - author of Ends of British Imperialism: the Scramble for Empire, Suez, and Decolonization

‘Historians are more than ever inclined to fight shy of over-arching histories of Britain's empire. Nothing daunted, and with style, splendid assurance, and encyclopaedic knowledge John Darwin unravels the dynamic connections and external pressures that forged a British world system and then influenced its dissolution. His account will command attention for years to come.'

Andrew Porter - author of European Imperialism, 1860–1914

'John Darwin's The Empire Project: The Rise and Fall of the British World System, 1830–1970 is surely now the finest, and will be the most influential, general survey of British imperial history.'

Source: Independent

'… a hugely insightful book that questions lazy notions of 'hegemonic' power. It's a brilliant marriage of the scholarly to the readerly.'

Edward Quipp Source: The Times Higher Education Supplement

'With its clear narrative, detailed analysis and penetrating insight, Andrew Porter is right that it ‘will command attention for years to come'. This is certainly the book to read if you are teaching British colonisation.'

Source: Historical Association

'[Darwin has] inspired generations of Oxford undergraduates at Nuffield College. Now we get a chance to eavesdrop on all those tutorials and lectures. The result is a finely tuned panoramic study of the British Empire that grasps a thorny issue: the complex relationship between Britain as an imperial power and Britain as a world power, and how those tensions were understood at the time and resolved (or not) … The scholarship and the writing are faultless. Expect prose sprinkled with musicality (such as the 'long diminuendo' of decline) and delightful details, especially Lord Salisbury's classic definition of the diplomatic arts: 'sleepless tact, immovable calmness, a series of microscopic advantages … serene, impassive intelligence'. The imperial politics of the white Dominions might be boring compared with those of Africa or India, but Darwin makes them almost captivating.'

Joanna Lewis Source: The Times Higher Education Supplement

'… there is no doubting the high quality of Darwin's book. It is based on profound scholarship, is engaging and inquiring, and shows a mastery of both the detail and the bigger picture … It is not merely in the grand overview and in the skilful synthesising of so much material that Darwin impresses. The book is also a masterly work of exposition and analysis. On almost every page one is aware of the sheer weight of scholarship that is able not merely to present information clearly and with ease, but also to draw together a host of facts, interpretations, even speculation, and continually make sense of it all.'

Source: The Times Literary Supplement

'… this is the best general history of British imperialism to date; a tremendous achievement.'

Bernard Porter Source: British Scholar

'Darwin has written a thorough, fluent and well-researched history.'

Source: Literary Review

'John Darwin’s The Empire Project is a tour de force, a major work of revisionist synthesis and interpretation, rich in data and insight, to which this short review cannot do justice … It is a ‘must-read’ for all serious students of the British Empire.'

Source: Soldiers of the Queen: Journal of the Victorian Military Society

'Among the most important new books written on the British Empire is John Darwin's The Empire Project. This was awarded the 2010 Trevor Reese Memorial Prize and shows how the loose-knit Empire was the basis but not the whole of that amazing federation called the 'British World'. This marks another important step in a more mature understanding of the Empire's role in world history.'

Source: Contemporary Review

'The great contribution of Darwin’s book is that it hammers a final nail into the coffin of an imperial history that saw the British empire as crafted solely from London.'

Source: History Workshop Journal

'… [this] book is a welcome addition to the ever-growing studies [on] British imperial history … well-researched and convincingly argued … [and] gracefully written in a fluent style. Darwin provides readers with a comprehensive and in-depth insight into the rise and decline of the British world system … very informative and engaging …'

Chia-Lin Huang Source: European History Quarterly

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Printed sources
Gooch, G. P. and Temperley, H. (eds.), British Documents on the Origins of the War 1898–1914, 12 vols. (1927–38).
Woodward, E. L., Butler, R., Dakin, D. and Lambert, M. (eds.), Documents on British Foreign Policy 1919–1939, Three Series (1946–86).
McMadden, A. F. and Fieldhouse, D. K. (eds.), Select Documents on the Constitutional History of the British Empire and Commonwealth, 8 vols. (1985–2000), especially vols. 5, 6, 7, 8.
Mansergh, P. N. S. (ed.), Documents and Speeches on British Commonwealth Affairs 1931–1952, 2 vols. (1953).
Mansergh, P. N. S., Lumby, E. W. and Moon, E. P. (eds.), Constitutional Relations between Britain and India: The Transfer of Power, 1942–1947, 12 vols. (1970–83).