9780385721462 / 0385721463

Captives: Britain, Empire, and the World, 1600-1850





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About the book:

Linda Colley's Captives: Britain, Empire and the World, 1600-1850 looks at the history of British imperialism from an entirely novel perspective. Instead of concentrating on the familiar tales of those who got away with empire--emigrants, fortune-hunters, generals, missionaries and statesmen--she focuses on the narratives of those British men, women and children who were captured.

Colley points out that whether in the Islamic Mediterranean, tribal North America, or the Mughal states of India, the British overseas were always vulnerable to the mighty powers of other European and non-European empires. Many were taken prisoner, some sold into slavery and not a few literally went native--taking on the language, costume and religion of their captors.

Colley, author of the widely-read and hugely influential Britons: Forging the Nation, 1707-1837, has discovered and recounts some hundred or so of these stories, many of them accompanied by sketches and illustrations. She uses this fascinating material not only to highlight the adaptive and cross-cultural manner in which the British interacted with other empires and peoples, but also to reflect on how, when and why the British were able to transcend their small island status and become an enduring global power.

Beautifully written and handsomely produced, Captives should be read with care. It is a most profound, original and erudite study of the British empire, with implications for how we think about race relations, Islam and the West, and the global reach of modern day America. --Miles Taylor

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