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Palgrave Macmillan

Pax Britannica

Ruling the Waves and Keeping the Peace before Armageddon

ISBN 9780230354302
Publication Date July 2014
Formats Hardcover Ebook (PDF) Ebook (EPUB) 
Publisher Palgrave Macmillan
Series Britain and the World

When at last peace descended with the end of the Napoleonic War and the War of 1812, British statesmen sought to enhance their new-won world order. They had to seek security under financial restraint. They pared back the Navy. The put their faith in bases as 'anchors of empire' on every ocean and annex. Profit and power were twin pillars of state thinking, to which were added freedom of navigation, the end of the slave trade, the crusade against piracy and above all slavery. In addition, the Navy took up surveying the waters of the world, as an inducement to safe navigation and prosperous trade. This book by world-expert Barry Gough examines the period of Pax Britannica, in the century before World War I.

Following events of those 100 years, the book follows how the British failed to maintain their global hegemony of sea power in the face of continental challenges. How they made accommodations with Japan in order to secure their interests against Imperial Russia, a new Pacific power. How they faced the insurmountable threat of Imperial Germany on the Continent of Europe. And how, apart from the Foreign Office and the Admiralty, the British state was largely unprepared for the war that came in 1914, and the crisis of 1914, which marks the end of Pax Britannica.The long recessional followed, with the United States forming the new naval power of the twentieth century. From the British to the American naval ascendancy the fate of the world turned.

Barry Gough is the author of many prize-winning and critically acclaimed histories dealing with the Royal Navy and the British Empire. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Fellow of Kings College London, UK, and Archives By-Fellow Churchill College, Cambridge, UK. His most recent book is Juan de Fuca's Strait: Voyages in the Waterway of Forgotten Dreams (2012).

1. Defining Pax Britannica
2. Empire of the Seas
3. Anchors of Empire
4. Surveying the Seas, Expanding the Empire of Science
5. Informal and Formal Empires in the Americas
6. Challenges of Europe, the Mediterrarnean, and the Black Sea
7. Indian Ocean, Singapore and the China Seas
8. Imperial Web in the South Pacific
9. Send a Gunboat!
10. Anti-Slaver: West Affrica and the Americas
11. Treaty Making and Dhow Chasing in the Indian Ocean
12. Darkening Horizons
13. The Lion and the Eagle
14. Trident Bearers: The Navy as Britannia's Instrument
15. Recessional: End of Pax Britannica and the American Inheritance


Honourable Mention in the Canadian Nautical Research Society's Keith Matthews Award 2014.
"One committee member noted that what he had "regarded as a brilliant synthesis of a bunch of literature ... [was] considerably more than that. Gough book is something bigger - a substantial essay of globalism in the 19th-early 20th century." In it, he really addresses all of the big historiographical issues in studies of British imperialism for the past 50 years, ... including the superb chapters on controlling the slave trade.Along the same lines, another member noted, "It is balanced, judicial and comprehensive. It also covers a vast topic." In sum, the committee agreed that Gough's book is 'life's work' in the sense that it brings together his reading and reflections over a whole career. It will rank up there with such scholars as Arthur Marder and Gerald Graham." - Canadian Nautical Research Society
'The history of the British Empire, which was once the preserve of either misplaced nostalgia or misdirected derision, has been reinvigorated in recent years by a number of wide-ranging books. Here is a significant new contribution to this literature, enlisting Barry Gough's expertise as a naval historian in restoring a neglected dimension to the story of the Pax Britannica. In its Victorian heyday, he argues, the Pax was underpinned by the Royal Navy, as 'a hoped-for state of affairs' that was to be crucially challenged by the ambitions of Germany - but ultimately displaced by the global reach of the United States.' - Peter Clarke, Professor Emeritus of Modern British History, Cambridge University, and author of The Last Thousand Days of the British Empire, 1944-47
'Attractively written, it is an absorbing, accessible, interesting and enlightening work and deserves a wide readership.' - Navy News
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