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Book Series

Britain and the World

A Palgrave Macmillan History Series

Series Editors

> Click here to visit the book series webpage

Series Description

Britain’s influence on the modern world has been profound and far reaching, touching every continent and subject, from Africa to South America and archaeology to zoology. Britain and the World is a book series examining the extent and significance of that influence, and of the world’s influence on Britain, from the late seventeenth century to the present.

From the seventeenth century onward, the histories of Britain and the world became increasingly intertwined. Yet mainstream British history still neglects the world’s influence upon domestic developments, and British overseas history remains largely confined to the study of the British Empire. This series takes a broader approach to British history, seeking to investigate the full extent of these influences.

The seventeenth century saw the establishment of British settlements in the Americas and trading outposts in Asia. It also witnessed the last invasion of Britain, with the arrival of King William of Orange, the establishment of a half-Dutch monarchy, and the infusion of Dutch banking. In the eighteenth century, Britain’s influence on the world and the world’s influence on Britain touched the lives of millions: from British goods and governance overseas to foreign foods and fashions at home. By the nineteenth century, these influences and the spread of ideas had a profound impact on Britain and the wider world. In the twentieth century, the world came to Britain through the process of decolonization as millions of immigrants from the colonies flocked to Britain for work and a new life.

Today, no area of the world remains untouched by Britain and its Empire, and no part of Britain remains untouched by the world. English is the world’s language for business, education, and politics; parliamentary houses can be found throughout the world; British common law is used on every continent; and British networks of telegraphs, ports, railways, and financial flows have shaped the way we communicate, travel, talk, and trade. This globalization of Britain occurred primarily through its formal and informal empires. The gold standard was adopted in many countries because of British advisors in foreign governments. Mines and infrastructure in Argentina, Thailand, and China were built and used by British businesses. Imperial networks made possible the flow of migrant workers, emigrants, capital, and ideas. Universities modeled on Oxford and Cambridge were established around the world. In these and other ways, countless features of the modern world can be traced back to the influence of Britain and its Empire.

The study of British history from a global perspective also helps to clarify many central paradoxes, problems, and questions that have arisen from national histories. Nationalism and national identity in Britain have occurred through larger global processes. British identity was forged in part vis-à-vis Britons’ encounters with their Empire, Europe, and the wider world. The resurgence of Scottish nationalism in the middle of the twentieth century, the economic ascendency of Ireland after joining the European Union in the late twentieth century, and questions arising over British identity all show the complex European, imperial, and global origins to modern identity and politics in Britain. Historians cannot seek to understand national or regional identities in Britain, or any country it interacted with, during the modern era without considering the complex interactions between local and global forces.

Submitting Proposals

If you would like to submit a book proposal the series, please fill out the proposal form found here and submit it, together with your book’s table of contents, a sample chapter or two, your CV, and the names of five potential peer reviewers to: editoratbritishscholardotorg  (editoratbritishscholardotorg)  .

Information for Authors

Please click here for further information.

Selected Titles in the Series

Pax Britannica ImagePax Britannica: Ruling the Waves and Keeping the Peace before Armageddon by Barry Gough
(Publication Date: July 2014)

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

When at last peace descended with the end of the Napoleonic War and the War of 1812, British statesmen sought to enhance their new-won world order. They had to seek security under financial restraint. They pared back the Navy. The put their faith in bases as ‘anchors of empire’ on every ocean and annex. Profit and power were twin pillars of state thinking, to which were added freedom of navigation, the end of the slave trade, the crusade against piracy and above all slavery. In addition, the Navy took up surveying the waters of the world, as an inducement to safe navigation and prosperous trade. This book by world-expert Barry Gough examines the period of Pax Britannica, in the century before World War I.

Following events of those 100 years, the book follows how the British failed to maintain their global hegemony of sea power in the face of continental challenges. How they made accommodations with Japan in order to secure their interests against Imperial Russia, a new Pacific power. How they faced the insurmountable threat of Imperial Germany on the Continent of Europe. And how, apart from the Foreign Office and the Admiralty, the British state was largely unprepared for the war that came in 1914, and the crisis of 1914, which marks the end of Pax Britannica.The long recessional followed, with the United States forming the new naval power of the twentieth century. From the British to the American naval ascendancy the fate of the world turned.

Review: ‘The history of the British Empire, which was once the preserve of either misplaced nostalgia or misdirected derision, has been reinvigorated in recent years by a number of wide-ranging books. Here is a significant new contribution to this literature, enlisting Barry Gough’s expertise as a naval historian in restoring a neglected dimension to the story of the Pax Britannica. In its Victorian heyday, he argues, the Pax was underpinned by the Royal Navy, as ‘a hoped-for state of affairs’ that was to be crucially challenged by the ambitions of Germany – but ultimately displaced by the global reach of the United States.’

– Peter Clarke, Professor Emeritus of Modern British History, Cambridge University, and author of The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire, 1944-47

Science and Empire: Knowledge and Networks of Science Across the British Empire, 1800-1970 edited by Brett M. Bennett and Joseph M. Hodge (Publication date: 13 September 2011 (UK) and 22 November 2011 (US))

An excellent review of this book is available from the Journal of Historical Geography: Hodge and Bennett – Historical Geography

To purchase this book and many others on Britain’s interactions with the wider world please visit The British Scholar Society Store at Amazon.

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

This new survey of scientific endeavor within the British Empire is the most wide-ranging yet published, examining the interconnections between science, the British Empire, and the emergence of a globalized world. It identifies and analyzes the web of scientific networks crisscrossing the British Empire through which scientific knowledge and authority were produced, circulated and legitimated, critically engaging with new ways of thinking about networked connections across space. It offers a comparative perspective that surveys a variety of scientific initiatives and circuits, including networks of agronomists, anatomists, botanists, foresters, geologists, marine biologists, oceanographers and physicists. As they chart the evolving practices, strategies, theoretical ideas and agendas among research scientists, technical advisers, imperial administrators, and native peoples in Africa, Australia, Britain, India and elsewhere; each chapter combines rigorous research with theoretical reflection based on the latest literature, as well as serving as a useful introduction to that literature.

British Diplomacy and the Descent into Chaos: The Career of Jack Garnett, 1902-19 by John Fisher (Publication date: 16 December 2011 (UK), 17 January 2012 (US))

To purchase this book and many others on Britain’s interactions with the wider world please visit The British Scholar Society Store at Amazon.

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

In his diplomatic career, from 1902–19, Jack Garnett served widely overseas during a period of dramatic change in international politics and in Britain’s role on the world stage. In this book, John Fisher reveals Garnett as a fascinating individual: head-strong, indiscreet, and accident-prone. Garnett’s early career was promising, but he left the Diplomatic Service under a cloud. Tired of the ‘old diplomacy’, he desired a holistic approach to the management of Britain’s overseas interests. Then, attracted by notions of constructive imperialism after the First World War, he undertook social work, before returning to the family seat in Lancashire. His correspondence provides the local, overseas, perspective on British foreign policy and is full of insights into life lived in embassies and legations. Fisher uses Garnett’s story to illuminate key issues in British overseas interests, including consular representation and the promotion of British commerce, as well as previously neglected subjects such as diplomats’ wives, travel, and expatriate communities.


Ordering Independence: The End of Empire in the Anglophone Caribbean, 1947-69 by Spencer Mawby (Publication Date: 20 August 2012 (UK), 18 September 2012 (USA))

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

In August 1962, Trinidad and Jamaica became the first territories in the Caribbean to gain independence from Britain. After four centuries of expansion and consolidation, the relinquishment of British imperial control was intended to mark a new era but the subsequent history of the region has been a troubled one. Ordering Independence analyses the conflicts and controversies which accompanied the gradual transfer of power away from British politicians and officials to locally elected representatives and includes coverage of disputes between the British government and Caribbean nationalists over regional integration, the Cold War, immigration policy and financial aid. The central argument of the book challenges those accounts which attribute the post-independence problems of the Anglophone Caribbean to the inadequacies of nationalist leadership and provides a new assessment of the failures of British policy. Based on research in British, Caribbean and American archives, Ordering Independence offers the first comprehensive account of the end of empire in Jamaica, Trinidad, Barbados, St. Kitts, Grenada and British Guiana.


British Images of GermanyBritish Images of Germany: Admiration, Antagonism & Ambivalence, 1860-1914 by Richard Scully (Publication Date: 30 October 2012 (UK), November 2012 (USA))

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

British Images of Germany: Admiration, Antagonism & Ambivalence, 1860-1914 is the first full-length cultural history of Britain’s relationship with Germany and the Germans in the key period before the First World War. Representing a recent about-face in scholarly appreciations of Anglo-German relations, Richard Scully reassesses the assumption that the relationship in the lead up to 1914 was increasingly fraught and reveals a more complex picture: that a longstanding sense of kinship felt by Britons for Germany and the Germans persisted right up to the outbreak of war, even surviving times of acute diplomatic tension. This innovative re-examination incorporates the reading of British images of Germany in maps, travel literature, fiction and political cartoons: forms which have never before been appreciated for the light they shed on this fascinating period of history.


Anglo-American Paper WarThe Anglo-American Paper War: Debates about the New Republic, 1800-1825 by Joseph Eaton (Publication Date: 28 November 2012)

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

The Anglo-American Paper War analyzes the forgotten literary conflict that garnered the attention of many renowned British and American writers: a war over images of the United States. The Paper War illustrated the diversity of nationalisms in both the United States and Britain, as Britons used America within their own domestic paper wars and Americans contested the meaning of their young republic. The creation of images of America was a two-way process, as Americans contributed to the creation of British commentaries regarding the United States and Britons shaped American self-understanding. Despite their Anglophobic proclamations of independence, Americans continued to use Britain as their measure. In this volume, Joseph Eaton offers valuable insight into the multiplicity of British and American nationalisms, the maturation of apologetics for slavery, the post-revolution exclusion of women from politics, and the early development of anti-Americanism.


HelenecoverBritish Policy in the Persian Gulf, 1961-1968: Conceptions of Informal Empire by Helene von Bismarck (Publication Date: 25 March 2013)

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

Based on comprehensive research in the British National Archives, this book offers an in-depth and critical analysis of Great Britain’s policy in the oil-rich Persian Gulf region during the last years of British imperialism in the area, covering the period from the independence of Kuwait in 1961 to the decision of the Wilson Government in January 1968 to withdraw from the Gulf by 1971. Helene von Bismarck explains the motivation and methods of British imperialism in an area which was of great strategic and economic value to Great Britain. The book demonstrates that the British decision-makers in authority regarded Great Britain’s role in the Persian Gulf as an interdependent system of military power, formal treaty rights and political influence that included the treaty-bound states Bahrain, Qatar and the seven Trucial States (today’s United Arab Emirates), as well as the officially independent states Kuwait and Oman.


HagermancoverBritain’s Imperial Muse: The Classics, Imperialism, and the Indian Empire, 1784-1914 by Christopher Hagerman (Publication Date: 16 April 2013)

Description from Palgrave Macmillan’s website:

Located at the intersection of British imperial and cultural history, and classical reception studies, Britain’s Imperial Muse explores the classics’ contribution to Britain’s culture of imperialism and to the experience of empire in India through the long nineteenth century. Dismissing grammar-grind stereotypes, this study argues that classical education left powerful images of empire in many students destined to play a part in Britain’s imperial drama; and that these classically founded images constituted a key pillar of British imperial identity. But it simultaneously acknowledges the classics’ role as a rhetorical arsenal used and abused by commentators to justify imperial domination, particularly of India. In its final act, the book follows the classics to India, where they provided knowledge of Indian civilization, defined and maintained the cultural solidarity of the imperial elite, entrenched the ‘difference’ of Indians, and helped Britons cope with the social, physical, and cultural alienations of life in India.

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