The British Empire has generally been seen as a racist empire (most influentially in Edward Said's ORIENTALISM). While not wholly denying this, Cannadine, in this funny, often horrifying book, suggests a different dynamic. The British rulers were motivated not by race but by class - they loathed Indians or Africans no more or less than they loathed the great majority of Englishmen, dreaming of an empire based on deference and feudalism. The often farcical gap between these views and reality make ORNAMENTALISM both highly enjoyable and extremely provocative for anyone wishing to understand how the British Empire really worked.
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