The Weight of Imperial Inheritance
Although written before the Black Lives Matter campaign burst into an international consciousness, Puridraws in BLM’s key issues of institutional brutality, slavery and racism.
Slavery was the ultimate manifestation of colonisation, not of land but of people,’ he writes.
The book’s publication coincides with this moral spotlight being shone on colonial history, manifested by debates over the statues that pepper the landscape of London and other cities.
The Great Imperial Hangover: How Empires have Shaped the World by – Samir Puri, Atlantic Books, London
The Great Imperial Hangover would have benefited from a separate section on the imperial history of Japan, whose brutal colonisation of Asia continues to shape the strategic mindset of the region.
After the colonial era came neo-colonialism or neo-imperialism, which Puri describes as bywords for international bullying. A weaker state might have the outward trappings of international sovereignty while, in reality, its economic system and politics are directed from outside.
Empires are still shaping the twenty-first century in profound ways through their abiding influences on present generations, he writes.
Therefore, it might be wise if negotiators hunting for new trade deals with Britain’s former colonies carry a copy of The Great Imperial Hangover in their briefcases so as not to be caught out over the Chinese Opium Wars or methods of repression used in the Indian Mutiny.