Portrait of an empire: the largest of empires, the British, at a culminating moment, the Diamond Jubilee of 1897. Using the advantages of the traveller and the techniques of the descriptive reporter, James Morris has recreated Victoria's empire just as it was-îwhat it looked like, how it worked, what its purposes were, who ran it. In some ways the book, in its romantic sweep and its affectionate mass of detail, is a microcosm of its own subject-îa narrative picture. 'I have fondly imagined it', the author says, 'orchestrated by the young Elgar and illustrated by Frith; its pages are perfumed for me with saddle-oil, joss-stick and railway steam ; I hope my readers will feel, as they close its pages, that they have spent a few hours looking through a big sash window at a scene of immense variety and some splendour, across whose landscapes there streams a remarkable people at the height of its vigour, in an outburst of creativity, pride, greed and command that has affected all our lives ever since.' Pax Britannica is the centre-piece of a trilogy. The next volume Heaven's Command traces the rise of Victoria's empire to the climax of the 1890s, the third will describe its final progress towards what the author regards as the emancipation of the British.