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Race and Imperial Defence in the British World, 1870–1914


  • Date Published: February 2019
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781316503959

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About the Authors
  • The first comprehensive account of the cultural and racial origins of the imperial security partnership between Britain, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa. Drawing on research from every corner of the globe, John C. Mitcham merges studies of diplomacy, defense strategy, and politics with a wider analysis of society and popular culture, and in doing so, poses important questions about race, British identity, and the idea of empire. The book examines diverse subjects such as the South African War, the Anglo-German naval arms race, Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee, and the birth of the Boy Scout Movement, and positions them within the larger phenomenon of British race patriotism that permeated the fin de siècle. Most importantly, Mitcham demonstrates how this shared concept of 'Britishness' gradually led to closer relations between the self-governing states of the empire, and ultimately resulted in a remarkably unified effort during the First World War.

    • The first study of the cultural origins of the British/colonial partnership of the First World War
    • Demonstrates how ideas of defense and international security were essential to how Britons thought about their empire
    • Enables a better understanding of why British and colonial populations eagerly volunteered for military service during the First World War
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'John C. Mitcham demonstrates how the rise of European nation states, and the scale of contemporary warfare, transformed British identity into a tool in the global Darwinian competition for survival, one which linked Britain and the Anglophone dominions in a defence partnership, against other powers, and the non-British 'other' within.' Andrew Lambert, King's College London

    'Often the study of British imperial defence is divorced from the glue which underpinned the entire system: racial and social cohesion. This study is a needful corrective to that lacking and as such a welcome addition to the literature on the topic.' Greg Kennedy, King's College London at the Joint Services Command and Staff College

    'A brave, exhaustively researched and fashion-resisting work, Race and Imperial Defence in the British World, 1870–1914 challenges many conventional assumptions about the character and perceptions of empire and imperialism in Britain and the colonies in the years before the Great War. Elegantly persuasive while courting controversy, this book deserves our attention.' R. J. Q. Adams, Texas A&M University

    '… there is much to recommend about this book, which cleverly uses a cultural lens to elucidate the imperial defence relationships in the decade before the First World War.' Steven Gray, Journal of War in History

    '… Mitcham has written the first comprehensive account of the evolution of the process that integrated the 'white' dominions - Australia, New Zealand, Canada, and South Africa - with Britain in an overarching imperial security partnership. … This is a valuable read for anyone seriously interested in the evolution of British imperial defense policy, the history of the Commonwealth, and even late nineteenth-century popular culture in the British world.' New York Military Affairs Symposium

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    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2019
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781316503959
    • dimensions: 228 x 151 x 13 mm
    • weight: 0.38kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Imperial Britons: race, identity, and Greater Britain
    2. Defending Greater Britain: race and the evolution of Victorian imperial defense
    3. Imperial unity, masculinity, and the South African war
    4. The empire on parade: public representations of Greater Britain
    5. 'Sea league of all the Britons': race, navalism, and empire
    6. A young Briton's duty: youth, militarism, and empire
    7. 'A Britannic alliance': the dominions and imperial defense policy, 1900–14
    Conclusion: the 'call of the blood': the empire and the outbreak of the Great War

  • Author

    John C. Mitcham, Duquesne University, Pittsburgh
    John C. Mitcham is an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Duquesne University, Pittsburgh. He holds a Ph.D. in Modern European History from the University of Alabama. He has received fellowships from the University of Alabama and the Australian Army Historical Unit, and has lectured throughout the United States, Europe, and Australia. He is an active member of the British Scholar Society, the Society for Military History, and the North American Conference of British Studies.

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