Empires of the Imagination: Politics War, and the Arts in the British World, 1750–1850

Holger Hoock, Profile (Consortium, dist.), $30 (544p) ISBN 978-1-86197-859-2
Hoock, an associate professor in British history and founding director of the 18th Century Worlds Centre at the University of Liverpool, provides a thorough examination of Britain as a world power in this dense yet accessible anthology of that country's reign. From 1750 to 1850, Britain built an empire that was much more than a military achievement. It absorbed and collected the cultures of America, Egypt, the Middle East, and India. The loss of the American colonies stimulated the need for didactic art and, as England perfected culture building, they employed not only grand ceremony (such as Coronation Day), but also painting, writing, sculpture, music, and architecture to create a unique civilization. Official monuments, such as those to Trafalgar and Waterloo, raised armies by fostering patriotism and emulation. At the same time, the British began "collecting" treasures, not only to prevent their acquisition by other European powers, but to also increase national pride, preserve antiquities, and corroborate the Bible. Hoock clearly shows the culture of power and the power of that culture in this amazingly-detailed scholarly work. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 11/08/2010
Release date: 08/01/2010
Genre: Nonfiction
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