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Ten Cities that Made an Empire

by Tristram Hunt

Ten Cities that Made an Empire Synopsis

From Tristram Hunt, award-winning author of The Frock-Coated Communist and leading UK politician, Ten Cities that Made an Empire presents a new approach to Britain's imperial past through the cities that epitomised it Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and the end days of Empire, Britain's colonial past has been the subject of passionate debate. Tristram Hunt goes beyond the now familiar arguments about Empire being good or bad and adopts a fresh approach to Britain's empire and its legacy. Through an exceptional array of first-hand accounts and personal reflections, he portrays the great colonial and imperial cities of Boston, Bridgetown, Dublin, Cape Town, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Bombay, Melbourne, New Delhi, and twentieth-century Liverpool: their architecture, culture, and society balls; the famines, uprisings and repressions which coursed through them; the primitive accumulation and ghostly bureaucracy which ran them; the British supremacists and multicultural trailblazers who inhabited them. From the pioneers of early America to the builders of modern India, from west to east and back again, Hunt follows the processes of exchange and adaptation that collectively moulded the colonial experience and which in their turn transformed the culture, economy and identity of the British Isles. This vivid and richly detailed imperial story, located in ten of the most important cities which the Empire constructed, demolished, reconstructed and transformed, allows us a new understanding of the British Empire's influence upon the world and the world's influence upon it. Praise for The Frock-Coated Communist: 'Beautifully written and consistently engaging' - Independent 'An excellent book ... Hunt has a mastery of 19th-century British culture and European political thought' - Robert Service, Sunday Times 'Thoughtful and engaging' - Telegraph Review

The Good Book Guide Review

This ingenious book explores the changing character of British imperialism through its architecture and civic institutions, street names, fortifications and places of worship. Avoiding the issues of whether empires were simplistically ‘good’ or ‘bad’, Hunt’s history of colonialism suggests a more diffuse process of exchange, interaction and adaptation. Hunt explores the intimate geography and complex history of ten cities – from Boston, Bridgetown and Bombay to Cape Town and Calcutta – showing how diverse the reasons for expansion were. He takes the reader from the Puritan settlement of Massachusetts during the reign of Charles I to the dismay of Prince Charles having to oversee the handover of Hong Kong nearly three centuries later.

Ten Cities that Made an Empire Press Reviews

A grand history of the British empire ... this is a book about ideas, for all that it is rich in architectural description, economic fact and colourful anecdote ... well-written, cleverly constructed and beautifully balanced -- James McConnachie * Spectator * A fascinating and readable book -- Justin Huggler * Independent * Ingenious and timely ... Hunt skilfully constructs his itinerary to provide a lively and cliche-busting survey of imperial history ... he uses the urban lens to terrific effect -- Maya Jasanoff * Guardian * An original and inventive approach to tackling empire ... This is a book which is experienced through the life on the streets, in the buildings and across the physical layout of large urban centres, where jostled men and women of different races and creeds ... readable and engaging ... It is a work of great ambition ... impressive -- Kwasi Kwarteng * Standpoint *

Book Information

ISBN: 9780141047782
Publication date: 4th June 2015
Author: Tristram Hunt
Publisher: Penguin Books Ltd
Format: Paperback / softback
Pagination: 544 pages
Categories: Colonialism & imperialism, General & world history,

About Tristram Hunt

Tristram Hunt is one of Britain's best-known historians. Since 2010 he has been MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, and in October 2013 was made Shadow Secretary of State for Education. He is a senior lecturer in British history at Queen Mary, University of London, and has written numerous series for radio and television. His previous books include Building Jerusalem and The Frock-Coated Communist: The Revolutionary Life of Friedrich Engels, published in more than a dozen languages.

More About Tristram Hunt

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