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Out of Empire
Publisher: Penguin Books Australia
The British empire is long gone. Conventional wisdom has decreed it was A Bad Thing and that there's no more to be said. Darkest night has fallen over the empire on which the sun never set. Or so we like to think. In Out of Empire, Jeremy Paxman examines this belief and finds it wanting. The influence of empire is everywhere, from the very existence of the United Kingdom to the ethnic composition of our cities. It affects everything, from Prime Ministers' decisions to send troops to war to the adventurers we admire. From the sports we think we're good at to the architecture of our buildings; the way we travel to the way we trade; the hopeless losers we will on, and the food we hunger for, the British Empire is never very far away. In this acute and witty analysis, Paxman goes to the very heart of empire.As he describes the selection process for colonial officers ('intended to weed out the cad, the feeble and the too clever'), the importance of sport, the sweating domestic life of the colonial officer's wife ('the challenge with cooking meat was “to grasp the fleeting moment between toughness and putrefaction when the joint may possibly prove eatable” ') and the crazed end for General Gordon of Khartoum, Paxman brings brilliantly to life the tragedy and comedy of Empire and reveals its profound and lasting effect on our nation and ourselves.
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