Books of the year 2011: Richard Gott

To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora - T M Devine

 

Empire remains a perennial subject of interest and, having just published my own book on the subject (which I shall dutifully refrain from plugging), I cannot help recalling how many excellent books on the subject have appeared this year that might appear on anyone's Christmas wish-list.

T M Devine's To the Ends of the Earth: Scotland's Global Diaspora (Allen Lane, £25) is a sparkling account of the Scottish role in the British empire that can be read with profit by non-Scots. The same is true of Emma Rothschild's The Inner Life of Empires: an 18th-Century History (Princeton University Press, £24.95), a wonderful excavation of the story of an individual family (the Johnstones) of seven brothers and four sisters and their interaction with the wider imperial world, from Scotland to the Caribbean to Bengal. And Julia Lovell's The Opium War: Drugs, Dreams and the Making of China (Picador, £25) makes an excellent read for anyone who feels underbriefed about the historical reason for Chinese resentments towards the outside world.

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