Saki Ruth Dockrill Memorial Lecture 2018 – “The Lion and the Eagle” by Professor Kathleen Burk





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Published on Mar 7, 2018

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Throughout modern history, British and American rivalry has gone hand in hand with common interests. In this book Kathleen Burk examines the different kinds of power the two empires have projected, and the means they have used to do it. What the two empires have shared is a mixture of pragmatism, ruthless commercial drive, a self-righteous foreign policy and plenty of naked aggression. These have been aimed against each other more than once; yet their underlying alliance against common enemies has been historically unique and a defining force throughout the twentieth century.

This is a global and epic history of the rise and fall of empires. It ranges from America's futile attempts to conquer Canada to her success in opening up Japan but rapid loss of leadership to Britain; from Britain's success in forcing open China to her loss of the Middle East to the US; and from the American conquest of the Philippines to her destruction of the British Empire. The Pax Americana replaced the Pax Britannica, but now the American world order is fading, threatening Britain's belief in her own world role.


Kathleen Burk is Professor Emerita of Modern and Contemporary History at University College London. Her general field is international history, concentrating especially on politics, diplomacy and finance. Kathleen specialises in the twentieth century, although publishes on earlier periods as well. Her primary area of research is Anglo-American relations, on which she has published three books and a number of articles, but she has also written on the history of merchant banks, and on international history generally. Furthermore, Kathleen writes on wine and its history, on which she has published a book and a number of articles.' Her newest book, 'The Lion and the Eagle: The Interaction of the British and American Empires, 1783-1972', will be published next June.'

This lecture is given annually in memory of Professor Saki Ruth Dockrill, who first came to the Department of War Studies in 1983 as a research student supervised by successive Heads of Department, Wolf Mendl and Lawrence Freedman. She went to Yale University as a John M. Olin Fellow in 1988-89 before returning to the Department as a MacArthur Fellow and then in 1992 as a lecturer in war studies; promotion to senior lecturer followed in 1997 and then appointment to a personal chair as Professor of Contemporary History and International Security in 2003. Professor Dockrill was a leading international historian, with four substantial, well researched books to her credit and five edited or co-edited. One of her best books was a study of the defence policy of Harold Wilson's two Labour Governments, 1964-70, and she made a notable contribution to the revival of Wilson's reputation as Prime Minister that had begun in the early 1990s.


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