By Simon Schama
'While Britain was once wasting an empire, it used to be discovering itself...' The compelling beginning 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 earlier. Spanning centuries, crossing the breadth of the empire and masking an unlimited expanse of subject matters - from the start 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 rather crossed the Channel, although its spirit of fiery defiance and Romantic idealism did, sparking off a around of radical revolts and reforms that accumulated momentum over the arriving century - from the Irish uprising to the Chartist Petition. the nice query of the Victorian century was once how the world's first commercial society may well come via its becoming pains with no falling aside in social and political clash. might the computing device age smash or increase the associations that held Britain jointly, from the relatives to the farm? And if the British Empire helped to make Britain solid and wealthy, did it reside as much as its promise to assist the governed in addition to the rulers? with a purpose 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 monetary shocks and traumas of the twentieth century, and during the voices of Churchill, Orwell and H. G. Wells, it asks the query that remains with us - is the tremendous weight of our historical past a blessing or a curse, a present or a millstone round the neck of our destiny? it's a huge compelling epic, made extra so through the vigorous storytelling and massive daring characters on the center of the motion. yet along flamboyant heroes, like Nelson and Churchill, Schama remembers unsung heroines and nearly unknown enemies. along the grand rules, he exposes the grand illusions that expense untold lives. Schama seems to be head on on the evidence and asks, 'What went fallacious with the liberal dream?' The solutions emerge in "The destiny of the Empire", which unearths the residing beliefs of Britain's lengthy heritage, 'a historical past that tied jointly social justice with bloody-minded liberty'.
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Extra resources for A History of Britain: Fate of Empire 1776-2001 v. 3: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000
This, at any rate, was the task that another of the Lichfield Rousseauites, Thomas Day, set himself. His mission would be as a father–teacher to a purer generation of Britons, who would respect nature – all of it, for Day had become an ecologist avant la lettre, who believed in the inter-connectedness of all created life and was therefore a vegetarian and an ardent foe of the then popular sports of cock-fighting and bull-baiting. Animals, he believed, just as much as humans, could be conditioned by kindness towards a life of gentle happiness.
About the Author Simon Schama is University Professor of Art History and History at Columbia University and the prize-winning author of fourteen books, which have been translated into twenty languages. They include The Embarrassment of Riches: An Interpretation of Dutch Culture in the Golden Age; Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution; Landscape and Memory; Rembrandt’s Eyes; the History of Britain trilogy and Rough Crossings, which won the National Book Critics Circle Award. He has written widely on music, art, politics and food for the Guardian, Vogue and the New Yorker.
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. Nature decreed equality; culture manufactured inequality. So liberty and happiness consisted not in replacing nature by culture, but in precisely the reverse. Towns, which imposed an obligation to conduct one’s life according to the dictates of fashion, commerce and wit, were a web of vicious hypocrites and predators.