Ghosts of Empire
Britain's Legacies in the Modern World
By Kwasi Kwarteng
(PublicAffairs, Hardcover, 9781610391207, 466pp.)
Publication Date: February 2012
List Price: $29.99*
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The truth, as Kwarteng reveals, is that there was no such thing as a model for imperial administration; instead, appointees were schooled in quirky, independent-minded individuality. As a result the Empire was the product not of a grand idea but of often chaotic individual improvisation. The idosyncracies of viceroys and soldier-diplomats who ran the colonial enterprise continues to impact the world, from Kashmir to Sudan, Baghdad to Hong Kong.
Indian Express, September 11, 2011
“[Kwarteng’s] book is still a reminder that a superpower's legacy of intervention will be determined by outcomes that obtain after its eventual retreat.”
“[A] fascinating debut…Kwarteng effectively illustrates the effects of empire in a forceful and thorough book that holds important lessons for today’s leaders—in particular that the cost of invading and occupying a country always exceeds expectations.” Business Day (Nigeria)“[Ghosts of Empire is] one of several books that currently reappraising what might seem a tired old subject, but in the present strange mood now prevalent, it is worth more examination … Kwarteng’s book is a useful reminder that Britain’s empire left many uncomfortable legacies on which the author focuses attention”.
John Spurling, The New Republic
“This is an absorbing, richly researched book, smoothly written with a light touch, and suggests, if its gifted Ghanaian/British author is anything to go by, that the Empire at least got something right.”
Andrew Roberts, Wall Street Journal
“Mr. Kwarteng is an engaging writer, and his pen portraits of British imperialists are subtle and scholarly.”
Thomas Wise, Daily Beast
“While trained as a historian at Cambridge, Kwarteng is no ivory-tower dweller, but rather a man who believes in the power of history to inform, inspire, and challenge the present.. Using case studies from six different regions of the British Empire—Iraq, Kashmir, Burma, Sudan, Nigeria, and Hong Kong—he illustrates the ad hoc, ill-informed, incoherent, and frequently contradictory nature of British imperial rule.”
“There is a lot to learn from Kwasi Kwarteng’s Ghosts of Empire. The text itself serves as a wonderful example of a historical work that can be palatable for the masses without sacrificing academic rigor or scholarship—exhaustive in detail and citation, but written in plain language. On a political-slash-historical level, Ghosts of Empire is proof of a certain self-awareness on the other side of the pond that will hopefully make its way over soon: the citizenry’s understanding of their country’s past mistakes, acknowledged without fear of public admonishment.”
Military Review“Provides a fresh perspective that reminds us of our shared history and parallel paths… As strategic thinkers increasingly suggest that we are compelled to global action with a ‘responsibility to protect’ the embattled populations of the world, Ghosts of Empire serves as a stark reminder of the lessons of the past… Ghosts of Empire is not just a great read, engaging readers from beginning to end. It is a thought-provoking historical study with startling modern implications that will prove informative for any student of imperial history.”