A skin-deep empire

The Absent-minded Imperialists: Empire, Society And Culture In Britain, by Bernard Porter, Oxford University Press, €36.

5th February, 2005

The Absent-minded Imperialists: Empire, Society And Culture In Britain, by Bernard Porter, Oxford University Press, €36.

The British empire, according to Niall Ferguson, created the modern world. It spread the gospel and institutions of the free market, the rule of law, and democracy around the globe, albeit sometimes in an underhand and violent manner.

The extent of the empire, its triumphs and occasional tribulations, it has been argued, were central to the British experience in...

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