Saturday, April 07, 2007


I love reading good quality history books. Well written, detailed, accurate, they are hard to come by.

Over Easter, you might like to read this two books:

The first is by John Darwin, After Tamerlane: The Global History of Empire.

Darin argues that European colonialism was not unique - all Great Powers from the time of Genghis Khan's Mongols and beyond did it.

The notion that colonialsm is ‘the original sin of European peoples, who corrupted an innocent world’ is a utter fallacy.

To understand how empires are formed you have to examine the histories of, not just 17th century - 20th century Europe and America but also the ancient histories of the Ottomans, Chinese, Mongols etc..

In other words, the British Empire didn't invent imperialism. Its merely a natural consequence.

Darwin starts in the 15th century - examining the Mongol ruler - Tamerlane - who governed Eurasia - stretching from China to Russia. He explains why despite the move towards globalism and democracy, the tendency of people to gravitate to power and the need for order and security means that the concept of Empire will not die.

The second book that is worth reading for those nostalgic buffs is by Emily Cockayn's - Hubbub: Filth, Noise and Stench in England, 1600-1770.

We all love those quaint old English cottages- and dream of going back to Ye Olde England. But imagine a world where there's no proper sanitation, no flush toilets, no garbage disposal, no sense of hygiene, and everyone is drunk on cheap gin. Well, what do you get - a world of filth and foulness. Not to mention the fact that most people drank some form of alcohol daily (water was not clean) and defecated in the streets like cats and dogs.

Think of that - before you start complaining about Methodism and Victorian morality.

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