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How the Dead Hand of Imperialism Continues to Influence World Politics

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THE SHADOWS OF EMPIRE
How Imperial History Shapes Our World
By Samir Puri

We are all in the throes of a hangover, Samir Puri writes, a “great imperial hangover.” He explains in “The Shadows of Empire” that we are living in the “first empire-free millennium” in history and yet the legacy of these empires still powerfully shapes our times. He is aware of the notion of informal empires but makes a strong case that there was something distinct and notable about formal empires, which existed from the days of the oldest human civilizations until 1991, when the Soviet Union collapsed. This juxtaposition — imperial legacies in a postimperial world — is an intriguing idea that proves a clever prism through which to look at the world. Russia’s annexation of Crimea , Britain’s exit from the European Union and the breakdowns in Iraq and Syria all have deep roots in an imperial past that still casts shadows on the present.

Once you start to think along these lines, you see the shadows of empires everywhere. The day I began the book, I had been reading about a topic that Puri does not discuss but is one more example of his […]

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