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Small Wars, Far Away Places

The collapse of Western colonial empires after the Second World War led to any number of vicious struggles for power whose bloody consequences haunt us still. Acclaimed historian Michael Burleigh's brilliant analytic skills and clear eye for common themes underpins this powerful account of those struggles. He takes us on a historical journey from Palestine to Pakistan, from Cuba to Indo-China and reframes mid-20th century history by forcing us to look away from the Cold War to the hot wars that continue to afflict us. The result is a dazzling work of history, which examines the death of colonialism with passion, insight and genuine understanding of what it feels like to be caught in the middle of realpolitik.
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Longlisted for the 2013 Samuel Johnson Prize, a trenchant and thought-provoking account of the death of empire by one of our finest historians

About the Author

Michael Burleigh was born and educated in London. He was an academic for eighteen years before deciding to write full-time in 2001. He has won three major film awards for television documentaries (including 'Selling Murder' which won a BFI award) as well as the 2001 Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction for The Third Reich: A New History (Pan). He is married and lives in London.


Superb, scholarly, insightful and often witty ... magnificent Literary Review Terrific ... Burleigh writes with a keen eye for self-righteousness, hypocrisy and unintended consequences. He is quite brilliant at puncturing the vanities of history's great and good. -- Dominic Sandbrook Evening Standard A brilliant, complex, contradictory story, replete with character and incident, pungent and pithy and refreshingly free of preaching ... the author delights in the detail, the small moment illustrating a large truth -- Ben Macintyre The Times Vividly written and stimulating ... the raw truth, conveyed in scintillating language by a master of historical irony and of the grimly entertaining. If history for grown-ups is what you're after, this is it. -- George Walden Sunday Telegraph Burleigh is an equal opportunity moralist, not an ideologue, and he stalks his prey with feline grace ... This is a story of personalities as much as one of geopolitical shifts, and Burleigh is a master of bringing it alive with sharp character insights. -- Christopher Sylvester Financial Times The violent geopolitical shifts of the immediate postwar years constitute a dramatic saga, which Burleigh recounts with panache and wit ... lucid and persuasive. -- Piers Brendon The Sunday Times Burleigh is the don of elegant, historical writing and every vignette in this book is arresting. His ability to command his material is truly breathtaking ... damnably good. -- John Lewis-Stempel Sunday Express Harsh and vivid -- Max Hastings Financial Times Magnificent and entertaining Daily Express None of these stories is new, but the rich detail with which Burleigh writes, as well as his piercing analysis, makes them seem so. He nails his cast of politicians, generals and revolutionaries to the page in a series of ruthlessly observed character sketches ... as a description of the way imperial power drained from Europe to America, his book is quite brilliant. -- Keith Lowe Mail on Sunday

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