For almost two hundred years Britain dominated the world, its naval supremacy enabling it to acquire a vast empire, including India, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and much of Africa. Although it could not prevent its American colonies from becoming independent, its industrial and commercial power helped it to keep its scattered possessions under control, while a small army was sufficient to put down native rebellions in the absence of the involvement of oher Euroean states. A dwindling economy, and the cost of two world wars, saw this once-mighty empire crumble, giving in the process independence to nearly all of its dominions in the years after 1945. Empire is a succinct and highly readable account of this extraordinary rise and fall.
A History of the British Empire