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Empire: What Ruling the World Did to the British (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 21. Juni 2012

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  • Taschenbuch: 368 Seiten
  • Verlag: Viking (7. Juni 2012)
  • Sprache: Englisch
  • ISBN-10: 0670919594
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670919598
  • Größe und/oder Gewicht: 13 x 2,3 x 19,8 cm
  • Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 5.0 von 5 Sternen  Alle Rezensionen anzeigen (2 Kundenrezensionen)
  • Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 115.938 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)

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He writes with wit and penetration, and every page of Empire can be read with relaxed pleasure (Spectator )

Paxman is witty, incisive, acerbic and opinionated . . . In short, he carries the whole thing off with panache bordering on effrontery (Piers Brendon Sunday Times )

A very engaging account...with a good sprinkling of jokes, funny nicknames and sexual references. Paxman makes some very sharp points and writes well (Guardian ) -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine andere Ausgabe: Gebundene Ausgabe .

Über den Autor und weitere Mitwirkende

Jeremy Paxman was born in Yorkshire and educated at Cambridge. He is an award-winning journalist who spent ten years reporting from overseas, notably for Panorama. He is the author of five books including The English. He is the presenter of Newsnight and University Challenge and has presented BBC documentaries on various subjects including Victorian art and Wilfred Owen.

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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von vilma lechner am 12. August 2014
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Das Buch hat meine Erwartungen nicht nur erfüllt, sondern bei weitem übertroffen. Der Stil ist ausgezeichnet, es bietet eine Fülle an Informationen und detailliertem Wissen, das auch für Leser denen die Geschichte des Imperiums bekannt ist, eine Menge an Überraschungen birgt. Ich schätze überaus Paxmans Art Geschichtswissen aufzubereiten, sein Urteil ist klug, manchmal scharf und immer wieder ironisch. Ein großes Lesevergnügen für Interessierte.
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1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich Von iizzzii am 13. August 2013
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The book is both entertaining and well-written. Jeremy Paxman has a thorough journalistic style combined with a healthy measure of British humour. The book is both easy and pleasurable to read.
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Amazon.com: 14 Rezensionen
16 von 17 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
A sparkling account of the British Empire 15. Oktober 2011
Von Ralph Blumenau - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
Jeremy Paxman stylishly, wittily, sardonically and graphically summarizes the history of the British Empire. The Introduction is a treat in itself, and already it shows the author ready to spice his comments with adjectives like "unhinged" (for Gordon's mission to Khartoum) or "cracked" (for Baden-Powell) - there will be more such in the rest of the book.

It is quite a challenge to cover some three and a half centuries and involving every continent - many of which Paxman has visited for the television series to be based on his book - in under 300 pages of text (plus a bibliography of 32 pages! No wonder he pays generous tribute to Jillian Taylor, his researcher). In such a small space, Paxman not only manages to tell the stories - brutalities, heroics and all - with which many members of an earlier generation would have been more familiar than among those who have grown up in our post-imperial days - but he also finds room, in the text or in the footnotes, for the unfamiliar, the illuminating or witty anecdote, and for personal comment or interpretation. There is, for instance, the lovely scene of the first trade mission to the Chinese emperor in 1793 (followed by the weasel words with which the website of Jardine & Matheson conceals the origin of that firm's prosperity in the opium trade); or the extended account of the building of the Uganda Railway, beset as it was by two huge man-eating lions (one of whom had too diseased a lower jaw to kill larger prey - Paxman's comment: "the railway workers were a sort of convenience food.")

Scathing though Paxman is about the materialist motives (often cloaked in beliefs about the superiority of the white man and of his religion) which led to the expansion of the Empire, he pays due tribute when he comes to the high-minded: the Evangelicals who put an end to the slave trade; the genuine outrage about the abuse of power in 18th century India and the subsequent insistence on standards of integrity; the sincerity, endurance, unselfishness and educational work of the missionaries, who often strove to protect the local people against exploitation and sometimes supported the cause of independence; the ethos of pluck, fairness, leadership, team-work, and playing by the rules inculcated in so many colonial district officers on the games fields of their public schools (and, he might have added, the belief in hierarchy, the sense of responsibility and the confidence of command resulting from the prefect system).

Given the space devoted to anecdotes and many extended accounts of picturesque incidents, it is remarkable that almost all the major themes of British imperial history appear in this book. One exception, I think, is the story of how, learning from the loss of the American colonies, the British, between the 1840s and the 1870s, relaxed their grip successively on Canada, the Australian colonies, New Zealand and Cape Colony, giving them "responsible government" - essentially what would now be called autonomy or Home Rule - so that, by the outbreak of the First World War, they were all but independent. The British declared war on their behalf in 1914, but effectively acknowledged their full independence when it invited them to sign the Treaty of Versailles. That treaty gave Britain yet more territories to control - acquisitions by which Paxman considers "the reach of empire finally exceeded its grasp."

And so we come to the decline of the Empire. Paxman mentions diminishing lack of public interest as early as 1924, when the Empire Exhibition at Wembley was rather a flop. There was some anti-imperialism on the left; but that was as nothing compared to the influence of anti-imperialism from outside: from the United States (critical at Suez), the Soviet Union, and of course the increasingly vocal nationalist opposition in the colonies themselves, which had begun in India as early as the foundation of the Congress Party in 1885 and the Muslim League in 1906.

The Empire survived the First World War, but, as Paxman says, it was the Second World War which "really sank" it. At its end, Britain recovered the lands she had so shamefully lost to the Japanese; but, like France and Holland, she was too exhausted to hold on to what she had regained and, during the next two decades, to hold on to almost all her other colonial territories. Today, Paxman tells us, there are just fourteen tiny specks left; the most important of these are Gibraltar and the Falkland Islands, reconquered from the Argentinians.

Paxman thinks that Dean Acheson's 1962 dictum that "Great Britain has lost an empire and has not yet found a role" is still true today. In a rather acid conclusion, he writes that, though Britain no longer has an Empire and has even all but forgotten it, she still thinks that this island nation is so different from her European neighbours that she stands aside from it; that the work of her colonial subjects had brought her wealth that, according to him, still makes her feel that the world owes her a living; and that this has made her economic decline steeper than it might otherwise have been. A sparkling book ends on this rather depressing note.
6 von 6 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
The Fishing Fleet is in, lads! 1. Juli 2012
Von Mr. Joe - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
"Anyone who has grown up or grown old in Britain since the Second World War has done so in an atmosphere of irresistible decline to the point where now Britain's imperial history is no more than the faint smell of mothballs in a long-unopened wardrobe. Its evidence is all around us, but who cares?" - from EMPIRE: WHAT RULING THE WORLD DID TO THE BRITISH

"When India became independent in August 1947, the Empire lost four out of five of its citizens and freedom beckoned for all the others: Without India, the Empire was no more than a sounding gong." - from EMPIRE: WHAT RULING THE WORLD DID TO THE BRITISH

I acquired a fondness for England early. Growing up in my demographic - white, upper-middle class - in Southern California in the 1950s, it's not surprising that I was exposed to the tales of Robin Hood, King Arthur, and Sherlock Holmes by parents who loved to read. Moreover, while attending Catholic elementary school, the nuns instilled a horrible fascination with Henry VIII, who beheaded wives and wrenched England from the embrace of the Holy Mother Church. (Dude!)

And, while collecting stamps, my perception soon expanded to Great Britain and the Empire. There were so many little, gummed pieces of paper from a multitude of faraway, exotic places with the young Queen's image on them! But even by then, the Empire was dissolving, India having gone its own way two years before I was born. But I wasn't aware of it.

EMPIRE by Jeremy Paxman is an intelligent and congenial discourse on the sociological effects on the British of possessing an Empire. Mind you, it's not, nor claims to be, a chronological history of the imperium, though the scope of the book is from beginning to end of the Empire's golden age.

The author is quite candid about a significant portion of the early Empire's financial underpinnings, i.e. the trade in slaves and opium. However, Paxman also points out that, once the British government took over administration of the foreign territories from the great trading houses and put it into the fairly reliable hands of the stolid colonial officers recruited from the home island's middle class eager to serve Queen and country, the British Empire wasn't a necessarily bad empire to be ruled by as far as such go; it left many valuable legacies (as exemplified in Road through Kurdistan: The Narrative of an Engineer in Iraq). It was only after the Second World War that a growing sentiment among the British public of "Why bother?" acted as a catalyst to bring the Empire low.

Occasionally, the author injects a bit of wry humor:

"Even those who had arrived in (India) as bachelors had only to wait for the longed-for cold season and the arrival of what later became known as the Fishing Fleet - young women from the home country out to net themselves a husband from among the single men serving in India ... The women who failed to find anyone suitable went back to England, nicknamed 'returned empties'."

A reader well-versed in Empire history may wonder why the author barely touches on some topics, if at all: the loss of the American colonies, the rise (and decline) of the British navy, the Afghan Wars, the partition of India. However, these omissions do not detract from the effect of the whole narrative in any way.

As an adult reader, such books as Seize the Fire : Heroism, Duty, and the Battle of Trafalgar and LIKE WOLVES ON THE FOLD: The Defence of Rorke's Drift created for me mental pictures accompanied by a soundtrack that included "Land of Hope and Glory" and "Rule Britannia." Of course, there's not much of that anymore. As Paxman concludes:

"The British Empire had begun with a series of pounces. Then it marched. Next it swaggered. Finally, after wandering aimlessly for awhile, it slunk away."

Nowadays, the state of the Empire is best reflected in Outposts: Journeys to the Surviving Relics of the British Empire and Teatime Islands, though even here, as noted in the former by author Simon Winchester when visiting Tristan da Cunha, the last faint echoes of Empire can still call-up some of the old feelings:

"A bugle was blown, a banner was raised, a salute was made, an anthem was played - and the Colonial Governor of St. Helena was formally welcomed on to the tiniest and loneliest dependency in the remnant British Empire. I found I was watching it through a strange golden haze, which cleared if I wiped my eyes with the back of my hand: the children looked so proud, so eager to please, so keen to touch the hand from England, from the wellspring of their official existence."

The reader may be left wondering what Queen Elizabeth II, who's presided over the Empire's ever diminishing status over the past 60 years, thinks of it all, but she's never been interviewed - not ever. Perhaps, "We are not amused."
5 von 5 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
Erudite, educational and entertaining 11. März 2012
Von R. Parry - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Gebundene Ausgabe
You would have to be a very mean-spirited critic (even more vicious than a Newsnight presenter on a bad day) not to like this book. The British Empire combined the ludicrous and laughable with the impressive and the inspiring. The thesis of the book is that its very creation and collapse shaped the nation that is Britain today. Empire tells the story of development and decline and does it with the skill of a great writer on top form.

Jeremy Paxman (helped by a lifetime of practice) has a wonderful way with words and tells his chosen story with wit, verve and skill. The characters he introduces to us like Kitchener, Gordon, Rhodes and Baden-Powell are intriguing and captivating. The stories of Sudan, Rhodesia, India and the rest are told here with a greater levity but no less insight than would be in a more formal history. Events such as the comic farce of the first navel battle of World War One, which took place in colonial Africa on Lake Nyasa, illuminate almost every page. The book is probably greatly helped by its association with a BBC television series as this has enabled an enormous volume of research which provides the rich stream of detailed anecdotes. On a more serious note the book explains the context for much of the present days political strife from Ireland to Israel; from Iraq to Iran. All can trace their roots to British colonial decisions.

The premise that building the Empire has changed the British themselves is not wholly explored and indeed it feels a bit like a publishers gimmick to provide a catchy subtitle but this book must be judged as a popular work of non-fiction rather than a PhD thesis. As such it is 100% successful and worth every penny.

For those of us born this side of WWII this book goes a long way to helping to explain a earlier generation's state of mind and the models they had of the place of Britain in the world. As the author notes in the famous phrase "Britain lost an empire and is yet to find a role"

For non-British readers of this review Mr Paxman, on BBC television, is a master exponent of the raised eyebrow and the quizzical expression. The text of this book abounds with a similar spirit of sceptical interrogation. So for entertainment and enlightenment settle down with Empire to enjoy a master craftsman, at the top of his game, treating you to a slightly cynical but always informative view of the absurd and oddly admirable British Empire.
1 von 1 Kunden fanden die folgende Rezension hilfreich
An entertaining account of the British Empire, but....... 1. Juni 2013
Von Peter Gregoire - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verifizierter Kauf
In this hugely entertaining book, Paxman seeks to explain how it came about that Britain, a small island off the coast of Europe, established an Empire on which the sun never set.

His answer appears to be through technological advancement (which gave the British the means), mercantilist opportunism (which gave the British the motives) pure accident (which, in Robert Clive's victory at Plassey, fortuitously gave the British India) and self-delusion (which gave the British the belief that they had a moral pre-eminence to do whatever they wanted). The consequent sustainability of the Empire, so Paxman goes onto explain, can be put down to the British public school system, which turned out jolly good chaps to go into the colonial service and their stiff-upper lip wives to support them in their endeavours.

Paxman's judgement is not only that the British Empire was a bad thing at the time for the world, but that in the longer term it has been the worst thing that could have happened to Britain herself. Dean Rusk once said that Britain has lost an Empire, but yet to find a role. Paxman puts it in far more `Paxmanic' terms: that the only country not yet to have decolonized is Britain itself. It remains, firmly stuck in its past glories which, well, were not so glorious, as it turns out.

The book, then, would be rather depressing if you (like me) are British, were it not for Paxman's style of writing and sardonic humour which makes this a brilliant read. He writes like he interviews politicians, with a kind of prosecutorial approach where questions are asked in such a loaded tone, that the viewer will be left guffawing at the answer for the lie that it is, before the politician's mouth has even opened. In his writing style, one can hear Paxman's disdainful, accusatory voice being used to full effect on nutcases ranging from General Gordon, to Cecil Rhodes, to a retired brigadier grumbling about how "politicians don't know Orientals like we do".

My personal favourite part of this book is the description of the colonial service recruitment process, which sought to select sound-but-not-too-bright chaps churned out by the public school system, able to take the hardship of serving as district officers in the remotest parts of the world. The most important quality, it seemed, was a sense of fair play inculcated through the game of cricket. (This take on things certainly gives new meaning to the phrase "Test Match").

However, whilst I enjoyed this book, I have come away from it with the view that Paxman's harsh judgement is too much of a blunt instrument. The British Empire, unfairly, comes off worse than Home Secretary Michael Howard did after Paxman had (quite fairly) bludgeoned him into being the parody of an evasive politician, in their notorious interview. For a fairer more balanced depiction of Empire, I would refer readers to Niall Ferguson's "Empire: How Britain Made the World".

The export of the rule of law, globalization through international trade and English as a Lingua Franka, are achievements not to be sniffed at. I live and work in Hong Kong (and, incidentally, being part British and part Chinese, am a product of a union between one of those public-school jolly good chaps and a Hong Kong lass). Not for nothing does Hong Kong, one of the most important international finance centres in the world, trumpet these three achievements as its main selling points. Yes, the "two systems" part of the "one country, two systems" formula, are product of the British Empire.

In education as well, one cannot help noticing that the British public school system which Paxman punishes, is still much in demand (if not from the British) from the wealthy families in China, India and other countries fast advancing towards superpowerdom.

Probably the most lasting feature of Empire, however (and Paxman does elude to this) are the sports which the British created to keep their district officers trained and entertained: soccer, cricket and rugby. The globalization of English Premier League football may in fact be viewed as the continuation of the British Empire in today's world, albeit in another form. On a Monday morning, offices from Shanghai to Singapore, from Hong Kong to Hanoi, will abound with conversations about the exploits Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal at the weekend. The Premier League football shirt is one of the most observable fashion items across Asia; David Beckham a more recognized figure than David Cameron, even in the former's retirement.

For this reason, Paxman's observation of Britain being the last country in the world not to decolonize may not be too far from the truth. And the multi-cultural Britain on display in the Jubilee and Olympic year of 2012, showed a nation more comfortable with its place in the world, and the contribution it has made to it, than perhaps Paxman makes out.

All in all, therefore, although I may not agree with all his conclusions, this is a well-written, thoroughly thought-provoking book, full of wit and observation and worthy of a five-star rating.

Peter Gregoire (author of Article 109)
Informative, Provocative, Entertaining 14. März 2013
Von George W. Spencer - Veröffentlicht auf Amazon.com
Format: Taschenbuch Verifizierter Kauf
Although I lectured on the British Empire and especially British India for decades before retirement, this sweeping account of the Empire told me many things that I did not know before. Paxman, a popular author and media personality, knows how to capture and hold his readers' attention. He generally strikes exactly the right tone in discussing the long-lasting (and continuing, even after the Empire's rapid demise) British obsession with Empire, and how that experience shaped British notions about what constitutes heroism and leadership. Alas, these days those notions are markedly at variance with world realities.
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