Cross-posted at Albion’s Seedlings.
This is cool. Andrew Roberts, one of the best English historians of this generation, is about to have his History of the English-Speaking Peoples Since 1900 published. I have not gotten my hands on it yet, but here are two quotes, one from the extract on his website, and the other extracted from a review.
This from the extract: Just as we do not today differentiate between the Roman Republic and the imperial period of the Julio-Claudians when we think of the Roman Empire, so in the future no-one will bother to make a distinction between the British Crown-led and the American Republic-led periods of English-speaking dominance between the late-eighteenth and the twenty-first centuries. It will be recognised that in the majestic sweep of history they had so much in common – and enough that separated them from everyone else � that they ought to be regarded as a single historical entity, which only scholars and pedants will try to describe separately. A Martian landing on our planet might find linguistic or geographical more useful than ethnic factors when it came to analyzing the differences between different groups of earthlings; the countries whose history this book covers are those where the majority of people speak English as their first language.
Yes — this lays out one of the most basic points very succinctly. Most of the people of the Anglosphere are so close to the matter that all we see is the visible differences, which are often just a matter of “ethnographic dazzle” — colorful but fundamentally trivial differences. The more perspective the observer gains, either through cultural distance, passage of time, or geographical distance, the more the similarities and continuities of the Anglosphere stand out. Once you have gained this perspective, proper study of the Anglosphere can begin.
And here is a quote presented in Michael Burleigh’s review: A Maori spokesmen expressed this very well in 1918 as he outlined why his people had fought so courageously for the British Crown:
�We know of the Samoans, our kin: we know of the Eastern and Western natives of German Africa, and we know of the extermination of the Hereros, and that is enough for us. For seventy-eight years we have been, not under the rule of the British, but taking part in the ruling of ourselves, and we know by experience that the foundations of British sovereignty are based upon the eternal principles of liberty, equity and justice�.
An interesting footnote, and chilling foreshadowing that the Maori quoted could not have imagined when he spoke those words in 1918, is that the extermination of the Herero in South-West Africa in 1905 took place under the governorship of Paul Goering — father of Reichsmarshall Hermann Goering.
I’m sure I will have much more to say when I have read the book. And I look forward to what Lex, James, Helen and our other illustrious co-bloggers have to say as well.