Friday, June 20, 2008

The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire, by Peter Clarke

Martin Rubin writes perceptively HERE about Clarke's The Last Thousand Day's of the British Empire. Clarke sees the end not as a parade of leading figures (Churchill, Mountbatten, Gandhi) but in material terms, Britain being unable to feed its own people while becoming a debtor to its then-colony India. He recognizes the seeds of inevitable dissolution of the empire in the decisions Churchill took over the preceding ten years.

Clarke also shows a visceral distaste for the US and its postwar rise, and with gratuitous viciousness and obtuse moral vision writes that that, by 1947, "the British Empire was now in the hands of the liquidators. Churchill's thousand-year Reich had barely outlasted Hitler's."

Still the book sounds very interesting. I'll be curious when I read it to see if from Clarke's perspective a distasteful subtext argument arises: If Britain had reached an early accommodation with Nazi Germany, as had been urged on by certain segments of the British upper class, and abjured Churchill's Anglo-American unity, would Britain have retained its empire?

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