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British Empire—Book Summaries

The Core Reading Assignments for the BRITISH EMPIRE class are:

  • The final 10 chapters of Harding's Story of England
  • First half of Synge's Reign of Queen Victoria
  • Parts IV and V (Africa and India) of Marshall's Our Empire Story.

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Story of England    by S. B. Harding
This book, which can be used as a middle-school history of England, provides a thorough and succinct introduction to the history of the British Isles from the early Britons to the end of the Victorian era. Besides giving a chronological account of events, a brief explanation of some of the important industrial and social changes are discussed. The later chapters focus on the difficulties of administering an enormous empire spanning the entire globe.

Reign of Queen Victoria    by M. B. Synge
This book traces the history of the British Empire during the reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901. Important domestic reforms of the Victorian era include restrictions on child labor, manhood suffrage, independence for Ireland, and free trade. Short histories of many of the diverse colonies of Britain are given, including Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India. The most important wars of the British Empire, including the Crimean War, the Indian Mutiny, The Zulu and Boer Wars in South Africa, and the wars in Egypt and Sudan are also covered.

Our Empire Story    by H. E. Marshall
This book provides a vivid and picturesque account of the principal events in the building of the British Empire. It traces the development of the British colonies from the days of discovery and exploration through settlement and establishment of government. Included are stories of the five chief portions of the British Empire: Canada, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and India.

Supplemental Reading

In addition to these essential books we recommending reading at least two or three of the suggested supplements. Beatrice Home's Peeps at History —" India can be read INSTEAD of the India unit of "Our Empire Story", and it is somewhat shorter.

Hanoverians    by C. J. B. Gaskoin
This book presents an excellent intermediate history of the rise of the British Empire under the Hanoverian Monarchs, from the first Hanoverian king to the first world war (1714 to 1911). The first five sections of the books give the chronological history under the most important Prime Ministers, including Walpole, the elder Pitt (Chatham), the Younger Pitt, Robert Peel, Gladstone and Disraeli. The later sections provide more detail about such developments as the industrial revolution, the reformed English Government, and the nations included in the British Empire.

Story of Nelson    by Edmund F. Sellar
Nelson was one of the most popular and romantic naval heroes of all history. He went to sea at an early age, but first made a name for himself at the Battle of St. Vincent, in 1797. From that time until his death at Trafalgar in 1805, he led the British navy in several daring and audacious sea-fights, including the Nile and Copenhagen. His victories gave Britain undisputed control of the seas at a time she was at great threat from an invasion by Napoleon.

Story of Lord Clive    by John Lang
Robert Clive was a controversial, but extremely effective soldier, who is credited with gaining India for the British Empire. Though he started his career as a mere clerk for the East India Company, he was thrust into a series of adventures during which he showed extraordinary daring, and military genius. He made a great name for himself, and through a series of astounding victories, secured a foothold in several of the most important provinces of India.

India: Peeps at History    by Beatrice Home
This history of India begins well before era of British colonization, during the age of the invasion of Alexander the Great, which was the west's first contact with the east. For much of the next millennium various Moslem lords rules parts of northern India. Finally, in the eighteenth century, France and Britain contested for control of the Asian trade centered in India, and for the following two centuries, India was Britain's most important colony.

Great Inventors and Their Inventions    by Frank Bachman
Twelve stories of great inventions, grouped under inventions of steam and electric power, inventions of manufacture and production, and inventions of printing and communication. The final chapter introduces the famous inventors of the early twentieth century. The story of each invention is interwoven with that of the life of its inventor. Through these stories the reader learns how great things are brought about and how perseverance and hard work make for success.