The Creation of the British
Although British traders had been present in India since the 17th century, the subcontinent was under direct rule for just 90 years, from 1857 to 1947. This study focuses on the 20 aristocratic men who wielded supreme power as Viceroy – literally the monarch’s deputy – from Charles Canning to Louis Mountbatten. It assesses their characters, policies, achievements and failures, and examines the continuing influence of this autocratic system of government in both Britain and India today.
The Catalogue of Shipwrecked Books
Young Columbus and the Quest for a Universal Library
Christopher Columbus’s illegitimate son Hernando Colón dreamed of creating a universal library to rival his father’s achievement by bringing order to the vast amount of information that was becoming available in the burgeoning age of print. This biography follows Hernando on travels with his father in the New World; on visits to the great European figures of the age; and on his quest to assemble, organize and catalogue an unprecedented collection of 15,000 books, ephemera, printed images and music.
Ribbons Among the Rajahs
A History of British Women in India Before the Raj
During the 18th and early 19th centuries, legions of women made the long, costly and hazardous journey to India, some accompanying husbands, others seeking a husband or employment, others still from a sense of adventure; but while the women of the Raj are familiar from literature, these pioneers are generally forgotten. Between the voyage out and their deaths in India, Patrick Wheeler’s social history offers an account of everyday life for these ‘Indian British’ women during the pre-imperial era.
Blood and Sand
Suez, Hungary and the Crisis that Shook the World
This detailed account of 16 days in late 1956 juxtaposes the Hungarian Uprising and the Suez Crisis (or Second Arab-Israeli War) which, though thousands of miles apart, were both driven by Cold War tensions and threatened the precarious stability between the USA and USSR. Alex von Tunzelmann’s tense narrative, which switches rapidly between locations (London, Tel Aviv, Washington, Budapest, etc.), describes the powerplay between protagonists, including Ben-Gurion, Eden, Eisenhower, Nasser and Nagy, which resulted in conspiracy, assassination and bloodshed.
The Tiger and the Ruby
A Journey to the Other Side of British India
In 1841 Nigel Holleck left Britain to work as a clerk in the East India Company. After eight years in the post, he disappeared without trace in Nepal. A century and a half later, Kief Hillsbery set out to find the final resting place of his ancestor. The result is this remarkable tale of a clash of civilizations, a quest to discover one’s own identity, and a moving story of one man against an empire.
A British Lion in Zululand
Sir Garnet Wolseley in South Africa
The Anglo-Irish soldier Field Marshal Garnet Joseph Wolseley (1833–1913) was a household name in his lifetime. In just one year, he captured two powerful Zulu leaders who had inflicted crushing defeats on the British. Drawing on hitherto unused material, including 600 of Wolseley’s own letters, and field trips to long-forgotten battle sites, William Wright brings this ambitious, clever, insecure officer vividly to life, and sheds new light on an important but neglected aspect of colonial history.
We Die Like Brothers
The Sinking of the SS Mendi
On a foggy morning in 1917, a large British mail ship travelling dangerously fast off the Isle of Wight collided with SS Mendi, a steamship carrying more than 600 members of the South African Native Labour Corps (SANLAC). The Mendi sank in 20 minutes, leaving few survivors. Drawing on recent archeological evidence from the wreck, the book reconsiders this terrible tragedy and tells the story of the SANLAC in the British war effort.
Scandal of Colonial Rule
Power and Subversion in the British Atlantic During the Age of Revolution
James Epstein’s study examines the colonial drama that unfolded in 1806, when General Thomas Picton, Britain’s first governor of Trinidad, was tried in England, accused of torturing (by ‘piquet’) a mulatto girl named Louisa Calderon.
Imperial Boundary Making
The Diary of Captain Kelly and the Sudan-Uganda Boundary Commission of 1913
Written during the Sudan-Uganda Boundary Commission’s 1913 expedition by its leader, Harry Kelly, this day-by-day account gives rare insights into how imperial boundaries were drawn, and into the indigenous peoples encountered.
Race, Religion, and Law in Colonial India
Trials of an Interracial Family
Examining the story of a South Indian interracial family in the mid 19th century, this study addresses issues such as how British rule transformed persons from lower social classes and whether Indians could rise in the world by marrying Europeans.
The English Assault on the New World, 1497–1630
English colonizing efforts in North America were painfully unsuccessful in comparison with Spain's empire-building further south. Investigating the reasons for England's slow progress, Childs uses primary sources to examine vessels and voyages from Cabot's Matthew in 1497 to Winthrop's fleet in 1630; the unrealistic ambitions of promoters like Ralegh; the nature of the conflict with Native Americans; and the lack of leadership and co-operation that doomed English attempts to settle on the American coast to failure.
How British Aristocrats Staked a Claim to the American West 1830–1890
From the 1830s onwards, a succession of British aristocrats headed for the American West, taking with them their valets, their dogs – and their prejudices. This sparkling account describes the newcomers' experiences as they crossed the country to meet Native Americans, hunt buffalo and build cattle empires. Packed with lively incident and colourful personalities, it also charts their reception by Americans often less than pleased at the return of their former colonial overlords.
My African Journey
Winston Churchill toured the British territories in East Africa in 1907, when he was Under-Secretary of State for the Colonies, and his account of the journey reflects his serious interest in Africa, beyond the natural beauties of the landscape and the thrill of big-game hunting. His thoughts on settlement, race and government and in particular the role of the railways provide an intriguing insight into early 20th-century imperialism and African history. First published in 1909.
Bringers of War
The Portuguese in Africa during the Age of Gunpowder and Sail
Long before steamships and machine-tooled artillery, the Portuguese established an empire in Africa, capturing trading towns, seizing slaves and plundering mineral riches. This impeccably researched history describes how, between the 15th and the late 18th centuries, they fought their ancient Muslim foes, overthrew African kingdoms and resisted Dutch, Omani and Ottoman rivals in a quest for wealth and power as ruthless as the Spanish conquests in the Americas.
How Australia Became British
Empire and the China Trade
The discovery of the Eastern Passage to China in the mid-18th century, which meant that ships no longer had to wait for the monsoon winds, sparked fierce competition for trade between the warring nations of Britain and France. This study explains how the need to safeguard its sea-lanes to China and India drove Britain to explore the great Australian landmass – glimpsed by the Dutchman Abel Tasman in the previous century – and erect a 'ring fence' around it.