WHO KILLED THE BRITISH EMPIRE? by George Woodcock

WHO KILLED THE BRITISH EMPIRE?

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Woodcock seems faintly regretful about the loss of empire, and thinks failure of nerve had a good deal to do with it. The book includes an extensive historical survey of the Empire at the height of its sway, which deals rather perfunctorily, however, with such questions as whether Egypt was chiefly valuable as a route to India, or whether its loan repayment was a significant source of revenue. An unusually full treatment of Canadian political institutions is noteworthy. Woodcock insists, in a variation of the ""fit of absence of mind"" theory of empire, that ""the Empire was such a strange and unimperial structure. . .that it was often hard to understand how it hung together. . . ."" He underestimates the psychological and ""belief structure"" aspects of colonial control, for example, when he comments that there was no British attempt to ""impose conversion on subject peoples"" -- indeed, religious superstitions and divisions were exacerbated! The book chooses 1930 as the key year in the evolution of India's independence, the linchpin in loss of empire. Though Woodcock recognizes the U.S. attempt to move in on British spheres, neither the extent nor the mechanisms of American success (especially during World War II) is sufficiently stressed. And on the other hand Woodcock minimizes the basic friendliness of Gandhi, Kenyatta, et al., to the Crown. Needless to say, he finds no individual assassins of the Empire. A pleasant, unremarkable study.

Pub Date: Nov. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Quadrangle