The United States invaded Afghanistan in October 2001 as a result of the 9/11 attacks. It invaded Iraq in March 2003 in response to the alleged threat of Saddam Hussein’s weapons of mass destruction.
These acts prompted an unprecedented flood of articles in newspapers and magazines, TV documentaries, conferences, seminars, papers and hundreds of books speculating whether America was now, finally, at last revealed to be an ’empire’ with nakedly ‘imperial’ ambitions.
British economic historian Niall Ferguson entered the debate with a Channel 4 TV series and book on the subject – which also neatly complemented the C4 TV series and book he had published in 2003 about the British Empire.
When I bought it I thought, from its subtitle (‘The rise and fall of the American empire’), that it would be a history, maybe a chronological account of the growth of American power.
But it isn’t. Even more so than…
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The problem of why civilisations fall is too important to be left to the purveyors of scissors-and-paste history. It is truly a practical problem of our time, and this book is intended to be a woodsman’s guide to it. (Preface p.xxii)
Ferguson doesn’t shy away from the big subjects, in fact he enjoys storming the big subjects – the Origins of the Great War, why the British Empire was a Good Thing, the Future of America, a Complete History of Money, a Complete History of the 20th Century. It is no coincidence that the last four of these books were written to accompany four blockbusting TV series, TV being a medium which favours striking stories and bold statements, contrarian points of view and press release-friendly controversy.
This is Ferguson’s fifth book-of-the-TV-series, created after the crash of 2008 revealed the weakness at the heart of the western financial system and events…
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The Anglo-Saxon kings of England used numerous different titles, including “King of the Anglo-Saxons” and “King of the English. Around the mid 880s Is period in which almost all chroniclers agree that the Saxon people of pre-unification England submitted to Alfred. This was not, however, the point at which Alfred came to be known as King of England; in fact, he would never adopt the title for himself.
Initially Alfred was titled King of Wessex until 886 when in London Alfred received the formal submission of “all the English people that were not under subjection to the Danes”, and thereafter he adopted the title Anglorum Saxonum rex (King of the Anglo-Saxons). While Alfred was not the first king to claim to rule all of the English, his rule represents the start of the first unbroken line of kings to rule the whole of England, the House of Wessex.
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It is the final Friday before Shemini Atzeret, also known as Election Day in Canada this year, And what an interesting campaign it has been! The polls have moved quite a lot, especially recently. The New Democrats (NDP) seem to be enjoying a surge. Not on anything like the scale of 2011, but still something notable, as it was not long ago that there was talk about the Greens possibly passing them for third place. The Greens have slipped somewhat, as has been the case in past campaigns. No longer do they look likely to win as many as four seats; two (which is their current number) looks most likely.
The striking thing is that the poll aggregate at CBC (compiled by Éric Grenier) shows both major parties–incumbent seat-majority Liberal and opposition Conservative) barely above 30% of the vote (31.7-30.8 at my latest check). From 1949 to present, the largest party…
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