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Niall Ferguson - Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World - Empire for Sale 3/5

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Uploaded on Oct 26, 2009

Historian and presenter Niall Ferguson takes us on a fascinating journey in both time and space to explore the impact of the British empire on the modern world. From the earliest British settlers in Virginia to the decline of the empire in the aftermath of the two World Wars, positive and negative aspects of the empire are illustrated through key events and players.

Niall Ferguson uses a wealth of original sources such as quotes, documents, film footage and photographs, as well as taking a contemporary look at key locations and drawing parallels with recent history, such as the USA's war against terrorism.

The series is highly entertaining, informative and thought-provoking, and provides an excellent and balanced overview of the British empire and its continuing legacy in the world.

Part six: Empire for Sale

The fall of the British empire is usually attributed to Nationalist groups fighting for independence, yet as Niall Ferguson argues in this final programme of the series, it was really due to the crippling cost of running the empire and financing the two World Wars. He reflects on the achievements and problems of the empire and concludes that in its twilight years Britain did more good than harm in fighting two far worse empires, namely Japan and Germany. Visiting some of the hot spots of the two World Wars and of the campaigns for independence that followed, such as Gallipoli, Istanbul, Suez, Amritsar and Singapore, presenter Niall Ferguson gives us a vivid picture of an empire on its last legs.

The British empire took 300 years to build and less than three decades to dismantle, leaving just a few scattered islands in its charge. Niall summarises the legacy of the empire in terms of the English language, a free market economy and parliamentary democracy across most of the world, yet doesn't hesitate in reminding us of the horror of the empire for millions of people.

In conclusion, Niall claims that America now controls an empire, not by owning colonies but by virtue of the spread of its brands, culture, economy, faith and ideals across the globe.

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