Britain and the World in the Twentieth Century

Young, John W.
Date published: 
June 1997

Britain's departure from Hong Kong in 1997 marks the end of a century of Imperial retreat and relative decline in the world. From being the world's largest empire at the time of Victoria's Diamond Jubilee a century earlier, Britain has now become primarily a European power. Yet Britain's reluctant commitment to the European Union reflects the fact that it is still an island nation, with commercial and financial interests throughout the world. And the transition from global Empire to European power was not a smooth affair. This book looks at all the main phases of British policy from the 1890s to the 1990s. It pays attention to such major events as the Boer War, Appeasement, and the Suez Crisis, but it looks well beyond traditional diplomacy, taking in strategic, technological, economic, and ideological factors, as well as looking at such subjects as the rise of propaganda agencies and the intelligence community. The Empire and Commonwealth, relations with major allies like the United States, and rivalries with Germany and Russia all receive attention alongside domestic influences in Whitehall and the Whitehall and the persistent British desire for peace and order as the way to maximize trade and investments and secure wealth and social stability at home.