Jan Morris

The Sun Will Set

Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World

By Niall Ferguson

Allen Lane The Penguin Press 392pp £25 order from our bookshop

History may not be exactly bunk, or even just sound and fury, but it is certainly a fearful mess, and no great historical progress has been more jumbled, muddled, ambiguous, equivocal, contradictory or confused than the rise and fall of the British Empire, from its piratical beginnings to its somewhat sidelong end. You can make art out of it; you can philosophise and theorise over it; but you can never really make of it a straightforward, chronological one-volume narrative.

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