From ancient times, empires have risen and fallen, driven by war, territorial acquisition, trade, plunder, religion, ideology, technology, culture and information. In this ambitious book, Samir Puri — formerly at the Foreign Office, now a lecturer on war and international studies — attempts to analyse how all this has affected the world today.
Over eight chapters, he recounts the histories of empires around the globe, omitting only South America and Oceania. He looks at how their very different narratives linger in modern geopolitics. If we are living, as he says, through a ‘great imperial hangover’ it must have been one almighty booze-up.
In the United States he considers the paradox of a nation that has invested heavily in a story of freeing itself from empire but has pursued imperial actions itself, from ‘manifest destiny’ to modern interventions supposedly spreading freedom and democracy.