From Tristram Hunt, award-winning author of The Frock-Coated Communist and leading UK politician, Ten Cities that Made an Empire presents a new approach to Britain's imperial past through the cities that epitomised it. Since the return of Hong Kong to China in 1997 and the end days of Empire, Britain's colonial past has been the subject of passionate debate. Tristram Hunt goes beyond the now familiar arguments about Empire being good or bad and adopts a fresh approach to Britain's empire and its legacy. Through an exceptional array of first-hand accounts and personal reflections, he portrays the great colonial and imperial cities of Boston, Bridgetown, Dublin, Cape Town, Calcutta, Hong Kong, Bombay, Melbourne, New Delhi, and twentieth-century Liverpool: their architecture, culture, and society balls; the famines, uprisings and repressions which coursed through them; the primitive accumulation and ghostly bureaucracy which ran them; the British supremacists and multicultural trailblazers who inhabited them. From the pioneers of early America to the builders of modern India, from west to east and back again, Hunt follows the processes of exchange and adaptation that collectively moulded the colonial experience and which in their turn transformed the culture, economy and identity of the British Isles. This vivid and richly detailed imperial story, located in ten of the most important cities which the Empire constructed, demolished, reconstructed and transformed, allows us a new understanding of the British Empire's influence upon the world and the world's influence upon it. Praise for The Frock-Coated Communist: "Beautifully written and consistently engaging." (Independent). "An excellent book...Hunt has a mastery of 19th-century British culture and European political thought." (Robert Service, Sunday Times). "Thoughtful and engaging." (Telegraph Review).
This is a history of the ideas that shaped not only London, but Manchester, Glasgow, Liverpool, Leeds, Birmingham, Sheffield and other power-houses of 19th-century Britain. It charts the controversies and visions that fostered Britain's greatest civic renaissance. Tristram Hunt explores the horrors of the Victorian city, as seen by Dickens, Engels and Carlyle; the influence of the medieval Gothic ideal of faith, community and order espoused by Pugin and Ruskin; the pride in self-government, identified with the Saxons as opposed to the Normans; the identification with the city republics of the Italian renaissance - commerce, trade and patronage; the change from the civic to the municipal, and greater powers over health, education and housing; and finally at the end of the century, the retreat from the urban to the rural ideal, led by William Morris and the garden-city movement of Ebenezer Howard.