The Rise and Fall of the British Empire : The Great Courses: Modern History

  • by The Great Courses
  • Narrated by Professor Patrick N. Allitt
  • Series: The Great Courses: Modern History
  • 18 hrs and 8 mins
  • Lecture

Publisher's Summary

What were the forces that thrust the British Empire to its extraordinary position of greatness and then just as powerfully drove it into decline? And why is nearly every nation on earth, in one way or another, the consequence of the British Empire?
In these 36 lectures, Professor Allitt leads you through four centuries of British power, innovation, influence, and, ultimately, diminishment - four profound centuries that literally remade the world and bequeathed the complex global legacy that continues to shape your everyday life. This is a remarkable lecture series; one that will give you fresh insights into world history in a wide range of areas - political, economic, technological, social, and more. And it will also give you a comprehensive overview you won't find offered anywhere else - a context into which you can integrate new knowledge about this country, as well as understand the background of current events in so many other countries that were once part of Britain's empire, from Ireland to China, and in Africa and the Caribbean. Indeed, it seems fair to say that one cannot truly understand the most important aspects of world history without a firm grasp of the history of the British Empire. In giving you that grasp, these lectures draw on a vast range of critical events, riveting personalities, revealing anecdotes, and eloquent quotations.
Compelling, comprehensive, and astonishing in the force of its narrative power, each lecture will give you a refreshing new understanding of what made the British Empire both great in its achievements and vulnerable to its eventual downfall.


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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Comprehensive and Thoughtful

The full consequences of the rise and (perhaps especially) the fall of the British Empire are still very much unfolding in our world. In Africa and the Middle East especially, the transformation to independence has been so recent that no historian can give true perspective to the influences, rights, and wrongs of the Age of Empire.

That said, it seems to me that Professor Allitt's course is very comprehensive and as balanced as any modern European historian's can be at this point. I learned a tremendous amount and am so glad for the recent inclusion of "The Great Courses" series into the Audible library.

There are 400 years of stories in this (some familiar, some not), well organized and very entertainingly presented. My husband has been abruptly disturbed many times by my exclamations of "did you know?" and "can you believe?" and "wow, I didn't know that!"- always a sign that I'm deeply involved in an absorbing and valuable listening experience!

This is certainly a wonderful overview of a long arc of history which has so influenced the development of today's political map. The evolving and widely differing motives and opinions about empire are presented with modern sensibilities (of course), but also with an attempt to recapture the mindset of the times, both in Britain and in the countries of the Empire. Non-Western historians no doubt have differing points of view, ones of equal value, but this is a great introduction to the complexities that have defined the age of imperialism.

Whether inclined or not to agree with his perspective and his conclusions, I believe anyone will benefit from listening to Professor Allitt!
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- C. Telfair "Audible has changed my life! Dry , itchy eyes were destroying one of my greatest pleasures - reading. Now I am experiencing books again!"

Learn About Great Britain from a Great Briton!!!

Any additional comments?

This was a masterful survey of the British Empire. It is a lecture series from the Great Courses series. The professor is intelligent, well organized in his thoughts, and very interesting to listen to. He takes you on a sweeping survey of the British empire from its beginnings in late Medieval Europe to its dismantling after the Second World War and beyond.

What it Covers: The lectures are thematic with a generally chronological progression. In them you will hear about every major part of the empire and its story, including the American Colonies, Canada, the Caribbean, India, South Africa, other African ventures, the British presence in Egypt and the middle east, Ireland, British East Asia, as well as the colonization and development of Australia and New Zealand.

Some Highlights: The professor is thorough and engaging in his covering of the material. He is great at highlighting and bring out the different major personalities that were important to the British Empire such as Cecil Rhodes and Winston Churchill. Touches like this bring life and character to his overview. Likewise he also gives some mention of the arts, especially literature. I also think he was very fair in his approach to the morality of the British empire. He tries hard to be balanced and recognize both the blessings and the curses of British rule. Also, as an added treat, the last few of his lectures go on to talk about Britain in the modern era since the loss of its empire.

Some Limitations: As an overview, the professor covers everything in brief but few things in detail. If you are looking for a deep history on any one area, such as the history of British rule in a region, in depth political or military history, or an overview of British monarchs and government, you will be disappointed. But, if you are looking for a general but thorough overview you will be satisfied. There were some personalities, places, and events that were left out. For example, little was said about Britain's scattered island possessions, save some of the Caribbean islands and a brief mention of the Falklands, or British Guyana.

Overall this was a very enjoyable and worthwhile listen. Anyone who is interested in the topic will leave with a nice overview of the history of the British empire... and probably enjoy the ride! : )

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- Mike

Book Details

  • Release Date: 07-08-2013
  • Publisher: The Great Courses