Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (excerpt)

This study guide will help you analyze the excerpt from Niall Ferguson’s non-fiction book Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (2003) which can be found in the textbook Angles (pp. 189-190). You can also find a summary of the text, as well as inspiration for putting it into perspective

Niall Ferguson (b. 1964) is a Scottish historian who is known for his positive attitude regarding the influence of the British Empire. His views are presented in the book Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World, where he portrays the British Empire as one of the most powerful forces in the process of globalization and modernization. The excerpt you have to analyze is part of the book’s conclusion. 


Here, you can read an extract from our study guide: 

Humor and irony

At times, Ferguson introduces humor and irony in his text:

Sir Richard Turnbull (…) once told (…) that ‘when the British Empire finally sank beneath the waves of history, it would leave behind it only two monuments: one was the game of Association Football, the other was the expression “Fuck off”’. (p. 189, ll. 15-19)

In this example, humor and irony mark a change in the serious tone of the text and provide readers with a pause for amusement. Ferguson also uses this example to draw attention to his main arguments, as he is trying to prove that the British Empire actually left quite a considerable legacy.

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Empire: How Britain Made the Modern World (excerpt)

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