Three lucky winners of our competition will receive a copy of Empire of Guns by Priya Satia.
From the 17th to the 19th century, Britain was transforming from an agricultural and artisanal economy to one dominated by industry and machine. The industrial revolution – with the resulting growth in technology, trade, and exports – put the country at the centre of the world map. In Empire of Guns, prize-winning historian Priya Satia upends this narrative, arguing that – far from the bucolic image of cotton mills that define the popular perception of the period – the true root of economic and imperial expansion was the lucrative arms trade.
In fact, the whole country was enmeshed in major military operations for over eighty years between 1688 and 1815 – conflicts that took place on a vastly expanded scale that involved entire cities and local economies, posing unprecedented logistical problems that utterly dwarfed civilian enterprise.
Through in-depth research, Satia unearths the story of prominent British gun-maker and morally conflicted Quaker, Samuel Galton, who argued that the inescapable profitability of conflict meant that all members of an industrialised economy were irrefutably complicit in war. Through his story, and a detailed study of the British gun trade, Satia illuminates the nation’s emergence as a global superpower, the local role in economic development, and the origins of our era’s debates about gun control – that thorny and seemingly intractable partnership of government, economy, and military.
Empire of Guns expertly brings to life a bustling industrial society and our complex past to argue that, ultimately, war has driven the engines of progress.
Competition closing date: 4 July 2018