European Empires from Conquest to Collapse, 1815-1960

European Empires from Conquest to Collapse, 1815-1960

  • Paperback

    + free ebook


  • Ebook


New edition of a trail-blazing history of imperial warfare

Victor Kiernan offers a ground-breaking, truly global history of the violence of empire. European Empires from Conquest to Collapse deftly surveys the fighting forces and military engagements of the Great Powers, from the British in India to the scramble for Africa. With an acerbic wit, Kiernan unpicks the doctrines and realities of colonial warfare. Europe was fond of parading its concept of ‘civilized war’, he observes, but almost everything could be tolerated if it was deemed necessary for the upholding of prestige. Guerrilla insurgency, he adds, ultimately became one of the most sophisticated branches of the art of war.

Of all the reasons for an interest in the colonial wars of modern times, Kiernan argues, the best is that they are still going on, openly or disguised. European Empires from Conquest to Collapse is a landmark attempt to see clearly what empire entailed, instead of resting content with legend or fantasy.

With a Foreword by Tariq Ali, author of Winston Churchill: His Times, His Crimes and The Forty-Year War in Afghanistan: A Chronicle Foretold.


  • A much-needed survey of European colonial campaigns, brilliant in the choice of examples from an extraordinarily wide reading.

    Eric HobsbawmLondon Review of Books
  • One of Britain's foremost historians working in the Marxist tradition. His time in India, which remained closer to heart than any other country, significantly influenced how he came to view European imperialism.

    The Times