Piers Brendon

The Sun Does Set

Britain’s Declining Empire: The Road to Decolonisation, 1918–1968

By

Cambridge University Press 464pp £17.99 order from our bookshop

This magisterial volume, a sequel to Britain’s Imperial Century, 1815–1914 (1976), is the distillation of a lifetime’s learning and teaching about the British Empire. The earlier work, Ronald Hyam explains, was a kind of ‘user’s handbook’. The present study, based on mountains of documentary evidence, concentrates more specifically on the politics of decolonisation. Such a rigorous scholarly enterprise would have every excuse to be dry. But as became instantly apparent to his Cambridge pupils (of whom, to declare an interest, I was one), Hyam is entertaining, incisive and sardonic to the point of ribaldry.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • A piece of Literary Review history from way back in 1983: John Haffenden talks to the great Iris Murdoch. ,
    • Britain’s only travelling lit fest, the Garden Museum Literary Festival is heading to Houghton Hall, Norfolk, for a… ,
    • 'The 19th-century German sage is not my idea of a pleasant travel companion' goes hiking with Friedr… ,
    • If you want ideas about what to read next, sign up to our free email newsletter, and get book reviews, archive mate… ,
    • 'The heroic male nude could not, I think, be used today to signify civic pride and glory', as Michelangelo’s 'David… ,
    • 'Munch’s later works show us a man liberated from the torments that gave rise to some of the best-known early works… ,
    • 'We read from left to right and from start to finish. Or do we?' Stuart Hannabus considers the merits of reading i… ,