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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. 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.
A must add to your library.
4 of 4 people found this review helpful
What did you love best about Pax Britannica?
Mesmerizing history of the British Empire
What did you like best about this story?
The context it set for me vastly improved my understanding
What about Roy McMillan’s performance did you like?
Lovely voice, nicely cadenced
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
This review is for all three large volumes of Mr Morris's brilliant and exhaustive work tracing the rise and fall of the British Empire in exquisite detail. From the grand sweep of history to the obscure backwoods incidents and the always fascinating explanations of all sorts of things and "facts" that we take for granted today which it turns out did not happen in the way traditional history would have us believe.
Another amazing part of the book is as it was written in the 1960s there isno PC rubbish or mincing of words to avoid notional offense given to any race or religion, all are treated equally and their stories told in all the gory details good or bad - this is certainly not a glorious whitewash of the Empire's history it is honest and frank in every way possibe.
The most unusual thing for me are the Irish sections which in mostly tends to be glossed over in the UK and still is today, this however was a relevation to me on the course and history of the "Irish Troubles".
The whole thing is a must for anybody interested in World History, I doubt I could have sat and read the books but on Audio they are brilliant.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful