The Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez and Decolonization

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The Ends of British Imperialism: The Scramble for Empire, Suez and Decolonization

By Wm. Roger Louis
I.B. Tauris, 2006
1,082 pp. $35.00
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Louis is arguably the preeminent scholar in the field of British imperial history -- and is surely so among those who write on British imperial ventures in the Middle East. Somewhat more than half of the 35 essays collected here, written over more than three decades, deal directly with the Middle East. The others include two overviews of European decolonization after World War II, three historiographical essays, and specific studies treating mainly the United Kingdom in Africa and India. The turning point that was the 1956 Suez crisis offers one organizing theme, and the period of British (and European) decolonization as a discrete historical era with its own distinctive characteristics provides another. Most of these separate stories -- whether about decolonization in Sudan or Libya, the end of the Palestinian mandate, or the British withdrawal from the Persian Gulf -- center on the perceptions and actions of the principal British statesmen at the time. These include Ernest Bevin, Winston Churchill, and Anthony Eden, of course, and those just below them in rank as well. Louis notes in his preface that he is "approaching his forty-sixth summer at the Public Record Office (National Archives)." Time well spent.

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