The work examines the experience of "running" an empire, the development of its organizational principles (often through trial and error), relations between the metropolitan country and the colonies, and the origin and evolution of the idea of federation, which has been embodied in the form of Commonwealth.
The book is interesting in that it raises one of the most urgent issues in the historiography of the British Empire: the crucial factors of its formation and expansion and in its subsequent disintegration. Judd is definitely one of the historians who view the British Empire not as a single whole administered from London but as a conglomeration, a structure in which the specific clearly prevailed over the general. The empire's emergence and growth did not follow some "imperial plan" but was motivated mainly by private interests of individuals and companies connected with the affairs of the colonies. Specialists maintained, not without grounds, that gold mining companies drew Britain into a war with the Boers; in 1899, the future prime minister Henry Campbell-Bannerman said expansionism was dangerous in that it sucked his compatriots' energy away from the already existing job markets to where there were no markets at all (p. 127).
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