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The Rise and Fall of the British Empire

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What were the forces that thrust the British Empire to its extraordinary position of greatness and then just as powerfully drove it into decline? And why is nearly every nation on earth, in one way or another, the consequence of the British Empire?

In these 36 lectures, Professor Allitt leads you through four centuries of British power, innovation, influence, and, ultimately, diminishment - four profound centuries that literally remade the world and bequeathed the complex global legacy that continues to shape your everyday life. This is a remarkable lecture series; one that will give you fresh insights into world history in a wide range of areas - political, economic, technological, social, and more. And it will also give you a comprehensive overview you won't find offered anywhere else - a context into which you can integrate new knowledge about this country, as well as understand the background of current events in so many other countries that were once part of Britain's empire, from Ireland to China, and in Africa and the Caribbean. Indeed, it seems fair to say that one cannot truly understand the most important aspects of world history without a firm grasp of the history of the British Empire. In giving you that grasp, these lectures draw on a vast range of critical events, riveting personalities, revealing anecdotes, and eloquent quotations.

Compelling, comprehensive, and astonishing in the force of its narrative power, each lecture will give you a refreshing new understanding of what made the British Empire both great in its achievements and vulnerable to its eventual downfall.

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying reference material will be available in your Library section along with the audio.

©2009 The Teaching Company, LLC (P)2009 The Great Courses
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5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : wag more le 22/09/2013

British imperial history for Americans

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would for someone interested in history

What did you like best about this story?

I liked that each of the lectures were generally around 30 minutes. Each lecture was well organized and presented in an easy to understand manner.

What does Professor Patrick N. Allitt bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

He does bring to life many interesting topics, such as Britain's various colonial occupations of India, Australia, the US, Canada, Egypt and the Middle East, South Africa, West Indies. The more modern chapters were particularly compelling, particularly how Britain ultimately dissolved the empire in India/Pakistan and Israel/Jordan/Palestine/Egypt.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many, but the chapters most interesting were on Africa - Boer War, finding Dr. Livingston, Egypt.

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24 sur 24 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : Mike le 26/04/2014

Learn About Great Britain from a Great Briton!!!

Any additional comments?

This was a masterful survey of the British Empire. It is a lecture series from the Great Courses series. The professor is intelligent, well organized in his thoughts, and very interesting to listen to. He takes you on a sweeping survey of the British empire from its beginnings in late Medieval Europe to its dismantling after the Second World War and beyond.

What it Covers: The lectures are thematic with a generally chronological progression. In them you will hear about every major part of the empire and its story, including the American Colonies, Canada, the Caribbean, India, South Africa, other African ventures, the British presence in Egypt and the middle east, Ireland, British East Asia, as well as the colonization and development of Australia and New Zealand.

Some Highlights: The professor is thorough and engaging in his covering of the material. He is great at highlighting and bring out the different major personalities that were important to the British Empire such as Cecil Rhodes and Winston Churchill. Touches like this bring life and character to his overview. Likewise he also gives some mention of the arts, especially literature. I also think he was very fair in his approach to the morality of the British empire. He tries hard to be balanced and recognize both the blessings and the curses of British rule. Also, as an added treat, the last few of his lectures go on to talk about Britain in the modern era since the loss of its empire.

Some Limitations: As an overview, the professor covers everything in brief but few things in detail. If you are looking for a deep history on any one area, such as the history of British rule in a region, in depth political or military history, or an overview of British monarchs and government, you will be disappointed. But, if you are looking for a general but thorough overview you will be satisfied. There were some personalities, places, and events that were left out. For example, little was said about Britain's scattered island possessions, save some of the Caribbean islands and a brief mention of the Falklands, or British Guyana.

Overall this was a very enjoyable and worthwhile listen. Anyone who is interested in the topic will leave with a nice overview of the history of the British empire... and probably enjoy the ride! : )

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34 sur 35 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : Carole T. le 18/03/2014

Comprehensive and Thoughtful

The full consequences of the rise and (perhaps especially) the fall of the British Empire are still very much unfolding in our world. In Africa and the Middle East especially, the transformation to independence has been so recent that no historian can give true perspective to the influences, rights, and wrongs of the Age of Empire.

That said, it seems to me that Professor Allitt's course is very comprehensive and as balanced as any modern European historian's can be at this point. I learned a tremendous amount and am so glad for the recent inclusion of "The Great Courses" series into the Audible library.

There are 400 years of stories in this (some familiar, some not), well organized and very entertainingly presented. My husband has been abruptly disturbed many times by my exclamations of "did you know?" and "can you believe?" and "wow, I didn't know that!"- always a sign that I'm deeply involved in an absorbing and valuable listening experience!

This is certainly a wonderful overview of a long arc of history which has so influenced the development of today's political map. The evolving and widely differing motives and opinions about empire are presented with modern sensibilities (of course), but also with an attempt to recapture the mindset of the times, both in Britain and in the countries of the Empire. Non-Western historians no doubt have differing points of view, ones of equal value, but this is a great introduction to the complexities that have defined the age of imperialism.

Whether inclined or not to agree with his perspective and his conclusions, I believe anyone will benefit from listening to Professor Allitt!

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23 sur 24 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : Lance le 09/12/2014

Awesome overview of the British Empire

I am a bit of a history amateur. I've read plenty of history books, but as far as the history of the British Empire, the closest I had come was schoolboy textbooks and a few Winston books. So I was a little wary about whether I really wanted to indulge in 36 or so lectures about the subject.

But I was wrong. I found this subject to be very fascinating. To gain an appreciation for the other side of the US revolution, gave me a better appreciation for the uniqueness of the British and American empires. Seeing how the spheres collided time and time again, finally leading to the passing of the torch is interesting in that it never really needed to be this way. Not that I've become a Tory or that the book lectures the British in a positive light, its just that seen through the prism of time and global influence, the English speaking peoples had much more in common than they had differences. Of course most serious historians have been repeating that for decades, but these lectures really drove the point home. It was also refreshing to see the history from the eyes other than a Churchill biographer. Churchill had a profound impact upon the world, but was a rare and unique breed of person that said little about the British leaders themselves. People and their aspirations perhaps, but even then the record is mixed.

It also struck me that the US from the time of WWI argued through WW's principles that imperialism had run its course and by the end of WWII, the British themselves agreed they no longer wanted to be responsible for running an imperialist system either from an economic or moral perspective. There is quote about opportunities for freedom bringing forth the best in the nature of man, the opportunities to allocate the governance once that freedom has been won bringing forth the worst in that same man. And so it began as the British Empire dissolves, myriad immature systems elevate their men to the pedestal... nationalism, socialism, fabianism, democracy ... the book touches upon how these and other systems compete for power as men and women across the Empire are given their "freedom".

For me a good book whets the appetite, and this series will certainly inspire many more book choices for me. There is much more in the lecture series to recommend. Recommend going to the great courses website to see the titles of the lectures. This covers the major territories of the British Empire, including India, South Africa, US, Australia and discussed their formation, operating modes and events, and dissolution from the empire. It also touches upon social and political changes over the years and shows how they had a very large impact upon public opinion and subsequent British desires to stop the imperialist system. Highly recommended lecture series. Seemed to be fair and balanced to me, but I am a bit of a history noob. I may have called this lecture series a book, but there is no book that I could find. Just 36 lectures.

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10 sur 10 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : Sarah le 07/08/2013

A good educational course on the British Empire

What made the experience of listening to The Rise and Fall of the British Empire the most enjoyable?

Professor Patrick N. Allitt's clear and easy-to-understand presentation on the history of the British Empire.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

It gave me a good prospective on world history esp. between the world wars.

Any additional comments?

I would recommend this to anybody interested in British history. It is easy to follow, with key events well presented.

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16 sur 18 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : BoroEagle le 08/01/2015

Wonderful overview!

I thoroughly enjoyed this lecture series by Professor Allitt. While he cannot, due to time constraints, go deep with any one time period or geographic dimension of the BE, he does a fantastic job of giving an overview of the history of the British Empire. He is entertaining and easy to listen to from a performance standpoint. Professor Allitt left me with a desire to read further into many aspects of British History touched on in this course. He does an excellent job of presenting a point of you that is fair, though decidedly British, perspective, therefore providing an American audience the opportunity to see perhaps familiar events through another lens. Well done! Highly recommended.

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4 sur 4 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : Sean le 07/12/2017

Great but not what I expected

The lectures are exceptionally well performed and very informative. I deeply enjoy the fact than instead of taking a stance of the empire being strictly good or bad, it takes a neutral approach that shows both the benefits the British brought and the atrocities they committed.

My only gripe is the lack of British history. I was hoping for a history of The UK and both why and how the empire was created and sustained. It instead focuses entirely on the colonies and how they were run. I learned more about India, Canada and Australia than the U.K. during these lectures. It shows a lot about what the empire was, but very little about the people who ran it in there far off islands.

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3 sur 3 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

4 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : Stef le 23/06/2016

Easy to listen to, lots of anecdotes

The lectures are easy to listen to, with lots of anecdotes. They cover a lot of material, but the content is not particularly chronological and somewhat repetitious.

Allitt is a brisk, fast speaker. Sometimes I found his voice a bit annoying.

Allitt presents the history from the point of view of what I would call Economist Magazine–type conservatism (i.e., the notion that democracy and capitalism are better than other kinds of governments and economic strategies). Overall he seems to argue that although British imperialism did a lot of damage in the world, the damage is outweighed by the degree to which these ideas were seeded everywhere it went.

I'm giving the course 4 stars because that's the rating I give to something I mostly enjoyed but wouldn't want to listen to again.

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3 sur 3 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : SAMA le 13/04/2014

A real history

This is a course that explores the history of the British Empire without glorification or condemnation, giving a balanced look at both the good and the bad. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

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5 sur 6 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : HY le 10/04/2014

Immensely good!!

Would you consider the audio edition of The Rise and Fall of the British Empire to be better than the print version?

Have not seen the print version.

Who was your favorite character and why?


What about Professor Patrick N. Allitt’s performance did you like?

He delivers the lectures in an enthusiastic and knowledgeable manner. Very listenable despite the complexity of the subject manner.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes! I listened to it as much as I possibly could over the last several days, and many times drove longer routes so I could listen in the car.

Any additional comments?

Just wonderful. I recommend it very highly. My only complaint is that it brought up so many interesting topics and ideas and perspectives that I have more avenues of interest to pursue now than I have time for :)

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2 sur 2 personne(s) ont trouvé cet avis utile.

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5 out of 5 stars
Écrit par : "michaelharling" le 17/04/2019

Eine facettenreiche Gesamtübersicht

Sehr unterhaltsamer Kurs, der sowohl einen guten Gesamtüberblick über die Etappen des britischen Empire gibt, als auch ein Narrativ ("eine Story") zu entwerfen versucht und diese mit interessanten Quellen (Tagebucheinträge, Romane, offizielle Dokumente) von Regierenden, Regierten, Historikern und Schriftstellern untermalt. Allzu viel kritische Tiefe kann man aber nicht erwarten.

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