Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850


Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850

Pub. price: $27.50

ISBN10: 0375421521 ISBN13: 9780375421525 Publisher: Pantheon Books Published: Jan 1 2003 Pages: 438 Weight: 1.68lbs. Height: 9.75" Width: 6.50" Depth: 1.50" Language: English

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Britain's pursuit of empire seems an inexorable march across continents toward its ultimate--if temporary---global hegemony. But, as Linda Colley shows in this masterfully written book, Britain's overseas enterprises were always constrained by its own limitations in size, population, and armed forces, and by divisions among its subjects---constraints and deficiencies that could make the dream of empire an ordeal even for its makers. Drawing on a wealth of captivity narratives by men and women of different social and ethnic backgrounds from the early seventeenth century to the Victorian era, Colley chronicles the complicated dynamic between invader and invaded.
Here are the stories of Sarah Shade, who was married to a succession of British military officers, attacked by tigers, and imprisoned by Indian ruler Tipu Sultan; Joseph Pitts, a white slave in Algiers from 1678 to 1693 and author of the first authentic--and very complimentary--English account of the pilgrimage to Mecca; and Florentia Sale, a captive in the Kabul insurrection of 1841 who used her time in confinement as an opportunity to interview military men for her memoir. There were also those who crossed the cultural divide and switched identities, like the Irishman George Thomas, a mercenary fighter for Indian rulers and failed dictator, and those who crossed but made it back, like John Rutherfurd, the onetime Chippewa warrior and Scot.
Colley uses these extraordinary tales to trace the changing boundaries of Britan's pursuit of empire and its shifting attitudes toward Islam, slavery, race, and American revolutionaries.
Hailed by "The Financial Times" as a "White Teeth version of imperial history," Captives is atonce an
original chronicle and a prescient meditation on the meaning of empire.

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