Empire by a good journalist does not make good history.

Well it only took 6 months of putting it down and picking it up but finally I have finished Jeremy Paxman’s book on Empire!

 

Let me start by saying as well as thinking the man himself is fabulous and that his books on the English, Monarchy and the Political Animal were very good, this book in comparison was a let down.

 

As a collection of antidotes about Empire it is a great piece of investigation and interviews but as a piece of historical writing doesn’t flow, there are disjointed themes and no timeline or geographical ordering. Also it has no dept and does not answer the question on the cover “what ruling the world did for the British.

 

I can see what Paxman was trying to do but sadly he misses the point. I think what he was hoping to achieve was look at what Empire brought to our lives good and bad in the 21st century half a century after it started to fail. I also think he wanted to remove the rose tinted image his generation have of empire, the history they were taught at school that conveniently forgot the atrocities that the British committed against native peoples of the Empire in an effort to civilise them.

 

The TV program that accompanied the book, was an enjoyable watch but wasn’t for me a history programme but a well crafted travel log that was up there with Michael Palin and Clive James.

 

If you don’t think of this work as history but as a collection of stories about the former empire its entertaining enough but as a piece of historical research it fails, keep to the politicians Mr Paxman.

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One Response to Empire by a good journalist does not make good history.

  1. Colin says:

    Thanks for the review. I have been finding this offering very resistable in the book shop. I’ll give it a miss.

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