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One Fine Day

Britain's Empire on the Brink

Matthew Parker



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12 November 2024
'Breathtaking... vital and important. A wonderful read' PETER FRANKOPAN

'Marvellous... escapes the inane, balance-sheet view of Empire and sees its full complexity' SATHNAM SANGHERA

'Excellent... his mastery of detail is impeccable' DOMINIC SANDBROOK, Sunday Times

'Extraordinary... [brings] the world of a century ago to fresh, vivid life' ALEX VON TUNZELMANN


On Saturday 29 September 1923, the Palestine Mandate became law and the British Empire now covered a scarcely credible quarter of the world's land mass, containing 460 million people. It was the largest empire the world had ever seen. But it was beset by debt and doubts.

This book is a new way of looking at the British Empire. It immerses the reader in the contemporary moment, focusing on particular people and stories from that day, gleaned from newspapers, letters, diaries, official documents, magazines, films and novels: from a remote Pacific island facing the removal of its entire soil, across Australia, Burma, India and Kenya to London and the West Indies.

In some ways, the issues of a hundred years ago are with us still: debates around cultural and ethnic identity in a globalised world; how to manage multi-ethnic political entities; racism; the divisive co-opting of religion for political purposes; the dangers of ignorance. In others, it is totally alien. What remains extraordinary is the Empire's ability to reveal the most compelling human stories. Never before has there been a book which contains such a wide spread of vivid experiences from both colonised and coloniser: from the grandest governors to the humblest migrants, policemen and nurses.
Imprint:   Abacus
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 196mm,  Width: 126mm,  Spine: 48mm
Weight:   500g
ISBN:   9780349142364
ISBN 10:   034914236X
Pages:   608
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Forthcoming

Matthew Parker is a critically acclaimed historian who has written for numerous UK national newspapers, literary and historical magazines, as well as lecturing around the world and contributing to TV and radio programmes in the UK, Canada and the US. An elected Fellow of the Royal Historical Society, Parker's books include The Battle of Britain, Monte Cassino, Panama Fever, The Sugar Barons and Goldeneye: Ian Fleming in Jamaica. Parker lives in east London with his family.

Reviews for One Fine Day: Britain's Empire on the Brink

Compelling... we remain in a state of suspense throughout * Observer * Extraordinary... superb... It is a book for serious people who can handle difficult moral contradictions, and will undoubtedly annoy zealots of all stripes * Daily Telegraph * Excellent... his mastery of detail is impeccable -- Dominic Sandbrook * Sunday Times * A refreshingly nuanced montage of the Empire on its last legs... Empire was many things and Parker belongs to that vanishing minority that recognises this. What we have here is a fair appraisal of the life of the land, elegantly synthesised... By 1923, Parker shows with suggestive brilliance in his montage, Empire was on its last legs -- Pratinav Anil * The Times * Marvellous... escapes the inane, balance-sheet view of Empire and sees it in its full complexity * Sathnam Sanghera * Breathtaking, extraordinarily rich and beautifully written. One Fine Day is a vital and important history that is truly global in scope and ambition. A wonderful read * Peter Frankopan * An engrossing and wide-ranging account of the zenith of the British Empire - with all the contradictions, brittleness, ambition and hubris that moment entailed. Across Continents and characters, Matthew Parker provides a new, global history of British imperialism which feels both epic and immediate. * Tristram Hunt * Extraordinary. Matthew Parker's magisterial sweep through one day of British imperial history and culture plunges us into the global complexity of the British Empire, bringing the world of a century ago to fresh, vivid life. An astonishing achievement. * Alex von Tunzelmann * An epic portrait of the British Empire on the brink... Parker paints a brilliant picture, teeming with fresh faces and new voices * Jessie Childs * There is something Shakespearian about Matthew Parker's insightful argument that it was at exactly the time that the British Empire reached its greatest territorial size that the factors coalesced which were to destroy it... Parker has rendered a signal service by convincingly pinpointing the exact fulcrum moment in its half-millennium long history * Andrew Roberts * Exquisitely crafted and beautifully written, full of delicious detail and extraordinary insight * Augustus Casely-Hayford OBE, curator, cultural historian, and director of V&A East * A panoramic view of the British Empire on September 29, 1923... Parker vividly demonstrates the empire's vast reach and the 'impossibly conflicting interests between government [and] the governed' ... Accessible and sturdy, this expansive account provides solid ground for understanding the decline of the British Empire. It's an eye-opening and a unique vantage point from which to study 20th-century history * Publishers Weekly * An ambitious history of the beginning of the end of vast dominions of the British Empire on Sept. 29, 1923... a multilayered portrait, with deep contextual background... An impressive work of research and synthesis tracing the end of an empire * Kirkus * Epic in scale yet intimate in detail... a vast historical canvas on which each individual brushstroke had been brought vividly to life. A narrative triumph * Giles Milton, author of Checkmate in Berlin * An engrossing read sprung from an impressive archival sweep... Parker tells the unwieldy story of empire through a microcosm, and in so doing captures it in all its chaotic contradictions... An impressive feat that few historians are capable of * David Veevers, author of The Great Defiance: How the world took on the British Empire * A picture of an empire straining under the weight of its own contradictions... Mr Parker points this out with copious examples and meticulous research * The Economist * One Fine Day takes an engrossing trip round [the British Empire] at the very moment, almost exactly 100 years ago, when it reached its greatest extent -- Robert Tombs * Daily Mail *

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