The Great Imperial Hangover

Samir Puri


A groundbreaking book that explains how the world’s history of empires still shapes our lives and politics today.

For the first time in millennia we live without formal empires. But that doesn’t mean we don’t feel their presence rumbling through history. The Great Imperial Hangover examines how the world’s imperial legacies are still shaping the thorniest issues we face today.

From Russia’s incursions in Ukraine to Brexit; from Trump’s ‘America-first’ policy to China’s forays into Africa; from Modi’s India to the hotbed of the Middle East, Puri provides a bold new framework for understanding the world’s complex rivalries and politics.

Organised by region, and covering vital topics such as security, foreign policy, national politics and commerce, The Great Imperial Hangover combines gripping history and astute analysis to explain why the history of empire affects us all in profound ways.

Advance praise for The Great Imperial Hangover

Masterly. I found new insights on almost every page. It achieves the remarkable feat of deepening our self-knowledge while at the same time broadening our understanding of the world around us.,” Paul Strathern, Rise and Fall: A History of the World in Ten Empires

”An excellent read. Samir Puri has written a calm, distilled and bracing book.,” Robert D. Kaplan, The Return of Marco Polo’s World

Financial Times 2020 Visions: The Year Ahead in Books: “Samir Puri investigates The Great Imperial Hangover, arguing that even as empires dissolve, their legacies inescapably continue to shape our lives.”

Irish Independent From literary big hitters to gripping thrillers – it’s the ultimate 2020 books preview: “Formal empires might no longer be referred to in such terms but if you think their presence is not still being brought to bear, you aren’t paying attention. Puri, an expert in international political history, looks at how imperial structures and legacies never went away.”

Waterstones Says “Whilst we may live in a world without formal empires, the globe is still rife with unofficial ones and, in this magisterial account of superpower foreign policy, Puri does an exhaustive job of analysing how contemporary incursions amount to de facto imperialism. Elegantly written and cogently argued, The Great Imperial Hangover is the last word on a vital and timely topic.”

Reviews of The Great Imperial Hangover

Prospect – Is this really the imperial age?Before lecturing at King’s College London, Puri, who hails from an East African Indian family, worked at the Foreign Office. As such, his own life has been entangled with Britain’s post-imperial legacy, and his passionate awareness of this is what elevates this book into an exceptional account, both personal and scholarly.”

The Spectator – Imperialism is far from over, but is gathering force in disguise.“Puri alternates between contemporary geopolitical analysis and detailed histories of each of these parts of the world, and this can be enlightening. He makes a credible case for how, in the US and China, imperial legacies have left those powers with different values that would be hard to reconcile.”

The Financial Times – Is it time to strike back at empire?“Puri has many penetrating insights into the ways the legacies of empire still affect the behaviour of states and the international climate… As Puri observes, the struggle to come to terms with the consequences of empire is far from over. ‘Civilisations don’t clash,’ he writes. ‘Imperial legacies collide.’”

The World Today (Chatham House ) – Imperial aspirations. “Puri’s book concludes with thoughts about how the world might be re-ordered by these new post-imperial visions. The most significant is how technology could be deployed to further national interests.”

Asian Affairs – The weight of imperial inheritance.“It might be wise if negotiators hunting for new trade deals with Britain’s former colonies carry a copy of The Great Imperial Hangover in their briefcases so as not to be caught out over the Chinese Opium Wars or methods of repression used in the Indian Mutiny.

King’s College London’s Centre for Grand Strategy presents – ‘The Great Imperial Hangover’ – launch. An event in conversation with Dr Samir Puri and Professor Patrick Porter, chaired by Dr Flavia Gasbarri (24 June 2020)


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