The British Empire changed the face of the modern world. At its zenith it governed more than a quarter of the world’s population, and spanned at least a fifth of its surface. Through these sovereign acquisitions, the British people derived wealth, influence and prestige. Empire also became a defining aspect of British identity, affording the nation a sense of international purpose and political and social unity.  Yet, for many of those that it controlled, the Empire often represented something darker: an arbitrary power which disrupted local customs, social structures and government.

In this new edition of his classic work, Denis Judd analyses the sweep of the British colonial story, from the American Revolution to the present day, decisively illustrating the influence of Britain’s imperial past on her place in the twenty-first century. This renowned book, fully updated, will be essential reading for anyone interested in understanding modern Britain and its imperial history.