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Linda Colley's latest book is at once a grand saga, a remarkable detective story, and a major work of revisionist British and imperial history. Ranging in setting from white slave markets in North Africa, to imperial conflicts and catastrophes in North America and India, it recovers the experiences of a vital but forgotten category of individuals. The captives in question are those hundreds of thousands of English, Welsh, Scottish and Irish settlers, soldiers, sailors, traders and travellers seized and subordinated by different non-European peoples in the course of Britain's early imperial enterprise and expansion. At one level, Captives is an exploration of what happened to these aggressorvictims and why. Here are the tales of Sarah Shade, a camp follower in the East India Company's army who became a captive in Mysore; of Joseph Pitts, seized by Algerian corsairs and the first Briton ever to complete the pilgrimage to Mecca; and many more. But Colley also uses these captivity tales to investigate Britain's imperial story far more broadly, re-assessing the depth and quality of British power. She investigates what these overseas captivities reveal about British relations with and attitudes towards non-European peoples - and vice versa. The result is a book that raises questions both about the impact and meanings of British empire in the past, and about this empire's legacies and successors today. Illustrated throughout, and evocatively written, Captives will change the way in which the British empire is looked back on, both amongst those who still retain some admiration for it, and amongst those to whom it remains profoundly controversial and troubling.
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In this path-breaking book Linda Colley reappraises the rise of the biggest empire in global history. Excavating the lives of some of the multitudes of Britons held captive in the lands their own rulers sought to conquer, Colley also offers an intimate understanding of the peoples and cultures of the Mediterranean, North America, India, and Afghanistan.
Here are harrowing, sometimes poignant stories by soldiers and sailors and their womenfolk, by traders and con men and by white as well as black slaves. By exploring these forgotten captives – and their captors – Colley reveals how Britain’s emerging empire was often tentative and subject to profound insecurities and limitations. She evokes how British empire was experienced by the mass of poor whites who created it. She shows how imperial racism coexisted with cross-cultural collaborations, and how the gulf between Protestantism and Islam, which some have viewed as central to this empire, was often smaller than expected. Brilliantly written and richly illustrated, Captives is an invitation to think again about a piece of history too often viewed in the same old way. It is also a powerful contribution to current debates about the meanings, persistence, and drawbacks of empire.
“Captives is rich and unfailingly inquisitive about the anxieties of imperialism, the experiences of those who did [its] hard labour, and, above all, the vulnerability of empire.”
—John Mullan, Times Literary Supplement
“In her reappraisal of what used to be called the first British Empire, Colley . . . counters as many received truths as she can with bracing antidotes. [She is] a completely original intelligence [and her book] is a sort of White Teeth version of early imperial history—full of interracial relationships, strange life journeys, good jokes, and cross-cultural borrowings.”
—Ray Foster, Financial Times
“Captives is sublimely well written: cunningly paced, beguilingly fluent, deftly allusive, vividly evocative. It is a major contribution to understanding the paradox of the British: the weak who wangled the earth and were cursed for it and by it.”
—Felipe Fernandez-Armesto, Literary Review
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Book Description Jonathan Cape, 2002. Hardcover. Condition: New. Next day dispatch from the UK (Mon-Fri). Please contact us with any queries. Seller Inventory # mon0000457054
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Book Description Jonathan Cape 2002, 2002. Condition: New. New hardback. May show some slight shelf wear but content fine and unread. Seller Inventory # A174476
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Book Description Jonathan Cape, 2002. Condition: Brand New. Brand New. Seller Inventory # 82066
Book Description Jonathan Cape Ltd, 2002. Condition: New. book. Seller Inventory # M0224059254