Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire

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9780140297614: Ornamentalism: How the British Saw Their Empire

The British Empire has generally been seen as a racist empire (most influentially in Edward Said's "Ornamentalism"). While not wholly denying this, Cannadine, in this funny, often horrifying book, suggests a different dynamic. The British rulers were motivated not by race but by class - they loathed Indians or Africans no more or less than they loathed the great majority of Englishmen, dreaming of an empire based on deference and feudalism. The often farcical gap between these views and reality make "Ornamentalism" both highly enjoyable and extremely provocative for anyone wishing to understand how the British Empire really worked.

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About the Author:

David Cannadine is the Director of the Institute of Historical Research at the University of London. His previous books include THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE BRITISH ARISTOCRACY; and CLASS IN BRITAIN. He is the general editor of the Penguin History of Britain and The Penguin History of Europe and is Penguin Press' history advisor.

Review:

"A lively account....As entertaining in its anecdotes as it is thought-provoking."--Boston Globe"Cannadine is excellent on the uses of pageantry and on the kitschy extremes it had reached by the nineteen-twenties."--New Yorker"A thoughtful and spirited book....In the privacy of their small worlds, away from the postmodernists and the radical historians writing 'peripheral' history, there can be heard fond retrospects of the empire and its pageantry by ordinary, unfashionable men and women. Were these people to tell us what they recall of the empire's doings, I suspect that they would echo some of the truths of Cannadine's subtle and learned retrieval of that imperial history."--Fouad Ajami, The New York Times Book Review"A study of British imperial attitudes that is light in size and tone but filled with weighty significance. In less than 200 pages of text, he has reopened the debate on the British Empire and has brought fresh insight into the ways that nations project

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