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Time's Monster

History, Conscience and Britain's Empire

Priya Satia

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Allen Lane
05 January 2021
An award-winning intellectual reconsiders the role of historians in political debate and the legacy of the British Empire For generations, British thinkers told the history of an empire whose story was still very much in the making. While they wrote of conquest, imperial rule in India, the Middle East, Africa, and the Caribbean was consolidated. While they described the development of imperial governance, rebellions were brutally crushed. As they reimagined empire during the two world wars, decolonization was compromised. Priya Satia shows how these historians not only interpreted the major political events of their time but also shaped the future that followed.

Satia makes clear that historical imagination played a significant role in the unfolding of empire. History emerged as a mode of ethics in the modern period, endowing historians from John Stuart Mill to Winston Churchill with outsized policymaking power. Braided with this story is an account of alternative visions articulated by anticolonial thinkers such as William Blake, Mahatma Gandhi, and E. P. Thompson. By the mid-twentieth century, their approaches had reshaped the discipline of history and the ethics that came with it.

Time's Monster reveals the dramatic consequences of writing history today as much as in the past. Against the backdrop of enduring global inequalities, debates about reparations, and the crisis in the humanities, Satia's is an urgent moral voice.
By:   Priya Satia
Imprint:   Allen Lane
Country of Publication:   United Kingdom
Dimensions:   Height: 240mm,  Width: 162mm,  Spine: 35mm
Weight:   611g
ISBN:   9780241464120
ISBN 10:   0241464129
Pages:   384
Publication Date:   05 January 2021
Audience:   General/trade ,  College/higher education ,  Professional and scholarly ,  ELT Advanced ,  Primary
Format:   Hardback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Priya Satia is the award-winning author of Spies in Arabia and Empire of Guns. The Raymond A. Spruance Professor of International History and Professor of British History at Stanford University, she has written for the Financial Times, The Nation, Washington Post, and other outlets.

Reviews for Time's Monster: History, Conscience and Britain's Empire

'History writing once burnished the monument of imperial progress, and continues to do so for many audiences today. In her brilliant and coruscating account of the uses of history in the making and unmaking of the British empire, Priya Satia offers a striking new way of confronting the problems that continue to plague contemporary societies. This is a bravura performance' -- Samuel Moyn, author of Not Enough As people around the globe struggle against a world order that owes its existence to rampant resource exploitation and dehumanizing beliefs about racial hierarchies, Priya Satia has given us a timely and powerful reminder about the complicity of history, as a discipline, in the making of that order. -- Jacob Dlamini, author of The Terrorist Album A magisterial account of the role of history in the making of the British Empire. At a moment of chronic hand-wringing over the decline of the historical profession and the crisis of the humanities, Time's Monster is an especially welcome addition for understanding how history can be used and misused. -- Dinyar Patel, author of Naoroji A deeply insightful account of the way historical thinking informs the exercise of power. If historians are to play a positive role in the struggle to bend the arc of human history away from tyranny and toward justice, the lessons of this book should weigh heavily on our collective conscience. But more than that, this work is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand how the way we know the past shapes our future possibilities -- Vincent Brown, author of Tacky's Revolt A pathbreaking study of the historical imagination's founding in colonialism. Moving from historical counternarratives to anti-historical thinking and poetry, Priya Satia guides us through important new ways of understanding the imperial past and its effects on our shared future. -- Faisal Devji, author of The Impossible Indian Deeply thought-provoking and incisively argued, Time's Monster is sure to become a classic for anyone interested in European empires and the role of history in shaping human behaviour. In this extraordinary book, Priya Satia weaves wide-ranging evidence into a lively narrative, proving incontrovertibly why she is one of the most important historians of our time. -- Caroline Elkins, author of Imperial Reckoning In this searing book, Priya Satia demonstrates, yet again, that she is one of our most brilliant and original historians. Time's Monster casts new light on the British Empire by homing in on a fundamental question --how did 'good' men, acutely concerned with their consciences, preside over systematic exploitation and repeated atrocities? Satia shows that only if we grapple with the complicity of historians in assuaging their moral qualms can we confront empire's darkest legacies in our troubled world -- Sunil Amrith, author of Unruly Waters


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