By Simon Schama
'While Britain was once wasting an empire, it was once discovering itself...' The compelling beginning phrases to "The destiny of the Empire", set the tone and time table for the ultimate degree of Simon Schama's epic voyage round Britain, her humans and her earlier. Spanning centuries, crossing the breadth of the empire and overlaying an enormous expanse of issues - 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 now not a British one. The French Revolution by no means fairly 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 business society may well come via its turning out to be pains with out falling aside in social and political clash. could the laptop age ruin or develop the associations that held Britain jointly, from the kin to the farm? And if the British Empire helped to make Britain reliable and wealthy, did it stay as much as its promise to assist the governed in addition to the rulers? which will 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 financial 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 monstrous weight of our background a blessing or a curse, a present or a millstone round the neck of our destiny? it's a mammoth compelling epic, made extra so by way of the energetic storytelling and massive daring characters on the middle of the motion. yet along flamboyant heroes, like Nelson and Churchill, Schama recollects unsung heroines and nearly unknown enemies. along the grand principles, he exposes the grand illusions that expense untold lives. Schama seems to be head on on the evidence and asks, 'What went mistaken 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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Additional info for A History of Britain: Fate of Empire 1776-2001 v. 3: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000
As for Day himself, his peculiar life ended abruptly in September 1789 in his 42nd year, during an experiment to test his pet theories about taming horses with gentleness rather than breaking them. An unbroken colt he was riding failed to respond to the tender touch, and threw Day on his head. The problem with Day’s experiment, some of his friends might have told him, was that virtuous conditioning could only go so far. Perhaps the damage to Sabrina’s and Lucretia’s natures had already been done by the time that Day got to them, beginning with the contamination of their mother’s milk.
Bewick was too much a son of the British countryside to be against all hunting, especially where he considered the animals had a fair chance of giving the dogs and men a run for their money – badgers, for example, could fight back ferociously. But he hated gratuitous cruelty. When he knocked a bullfinch off its perch with a rock he took the bird in his hand, where it ‘looked me piteously in the face; and, as I thought, could it have spoken, it would have asked me why I had taken away its life’, and suffered another terrible pang of conscience, turning the dead bird over and over as he looked at its feathers.
The economies of scale were said by Young and others to be another necessary condition for making the kind of investment that would bring about improved crop yields and better livestock, and thus enable the burgeoning population of Britain’s cities to be fed. And they were probably right. But the casualty of the estate manager’s relentless drive towards maximizing rents and profits was, so those same critics insisted, not just the countless numbers who now swelled the migrations to the towns – of America as well as Britain – but the collapse of an older, communally based way of life.
A History of Britain: Fate of Empire 1776-2001 v. 3: The Fate of Empire 1776-2000 by Simon Schama