By Simon Schama
'While Britain used to be wasting an empire, it was once discovering itself...' The compelling establishing phrases to "The destiny of the Empire", set the tone and schedule for the ultimate level of Simon Schama's epic voyage round Britain, her humans and her previous. Spanning centuries, crossing the breadth of the empire and overlaying an enormous expanse of issues - from the beginning of feminism to the destiny of freedom - he explores the forces that formed British tradition and personality from 1776 to 2000. the tale opens at the eve of a bloody revolution, yet no longer a British one. The French Revolution by no means fairly crossed the Channel, even though its spirit of fiery defiance and Romantic idealism did, sparking off a around of radical revolts and reforms that accrued momentum over the arriving century - from the Irish uprising to the Chartist Petition. the good query of the Victorian century used to be how the world's first commercial society may possibly come via its becoming pains with no falling aside in social and political clash. may the computing device age smash or enhance the associations that held Britain jointly, from the family members to the farm? And if the British Empire helped to make Britain reliable and wealthy, did it dwell as much as its promise to assist the governed in addition to the rulers? with the intention to answering those questions, "The destiny of the Empire" makes stops at either celebrations, just like the nice Exhibition, and catastrophes, just like the Irish potato famine and the Indian Mutiny. Amidst the army and fiscal shocks and traumas of the 20 th century, and during the voices of Churchill, Orwell and H. G. Wells, it asks the query that remains with us - is the sizeable weight of our background a blessing or a curse, a present or a millstone round the neck of our destiny? it's a monstrous compelling epic, made extra so by means of the energetic storytelling and massive daring characters on the middle of the motion. yet along flamboyant heroes, like Nelson and Churchill, Schama recollects unsung heroines and almost unknown enemies. along the grand rules, he exposes the grand illusions that rate untold lives. Schama seems head on on the evidence and asks, 'What went mistaken with the liberal dream?' The solutions emerge in "The destiny of the Empire", which unearths the residing beliefs of Britain's lengthy historical past, 'a heritage that tied jointly social justice with bloody-minded liberty'.
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Additional resources for A History of Britain: Fate of Empire 1776-2001 v. 3: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000
She was also blacksmith, shoemaker, boat-builder, harp-maker, and well into her 70s had been ‘the best wrestler in the country’. Pennant became the specialist in documenting the remnants of ancient, outlandish, unpolished Britain: the wildcat and the ptarmigan; the mysterious, lichen-flecked megalith and the poor, tough people who lived among them. A few years after his ‘excursion’ into north Wales – and a year before James Boswell and Dr Johnson – he sailed through the Hebrides, taking with him Moses Griffith, his Welsh manservant and illustrator.
Wherever they looked, the Romantic enthusiasts of rough Britain believed, there were lessons to be learned that confounded the equation of cultivation with nobility. It was in the places furthest from corrupting fashion, in the heart of Britain’s oldest landscapes – the landscapes which gave ‘Capability’ Brown nightmares – that truly modern marvels were to be beheld. In 1746 a builder called William Edwards had attempted to throw a single 140-foot stone bridge across the river Taff. After two collapses, by 1755 he had succeeded – no one quite knew how – and the bridge was still standing.
The Confessions – made available to the public through the good offices of an English friend and devotee, Brooke Boothby – recorded his first decisive illumination as he walked from Paris to Vincennes to see his then friend, the writer and philosopher Denis Diderot. Somewhere along that road it dawned on Rousseau, as he walked away from the city, that the entire values of the polite world were upside down. He had been taught to assume that progress consisted of a journey from nature to civilization, when that transformation had, in fact, been a terrible fall.
A History of Britain: Fate of Empire 1776-2001 v. 3: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000 by Simon Schama