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This wide-ranging and ambitious work begins from, but moves well beyond, the common observation that empire had a significant role in the making of modern Britain. Thompson weighs the relevant evidence from elites to the working classes, from women and children to international economics and domestic politics. In so doing he treats an enormous body of material with judicious insight ...It deserves close attention by specialist scholars as well as a prominent place on student reading lists. Saul Dubow, University of Sussex The concept of empire and its influence seems to be everywhere today, debated widely both in the media and academe. How did the British people regard their empire? Was it seen as a source of strength or weakness? How far did the imperial experience define British nationhood? And why are imperial legacies still debated so vigorously? The Empire Strikes Back? is the first full length study of the influence of empire on British society, past and present. In this path-breaking book, Thompson examines the impact of empire on Britain's political culture, social development and economic performance.
He shows how the effects of overseas expansion on Britain were complex and even contradictory. There was not, and never could be, any single or monolithic response to imperialism. Rather, the empire markedly extended the boundaries of British domestic society, and its meaning was contested by different social groups. The book concludes by examining the British people's relation to empire in recent times, engaging with many contemporary issues, such as the Falklands conflict, the repatriation of Hong Kong, and the impact of immigration. A fascinating study for all those concerned with how the past shapes both the present and the future, this book is essential reading for students and scholars alike. Andrew Thompson is Senior Lecturer in Modern British History, and Pro-Dean for Learning and Teaching in the Arts Faculty, at the University of Leeds. His previous publications include Imperial Britain: The Empire in British Politics 1880-1932 (2000) and The Impact of the South African War, 1899-1902 (2002), co-edited with David Omissi.
Andrew Thompson is a lecturer at Leeds University and is the author of '"Imperial Britain'" (Longman, 2000).