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The Quest for Security
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Book description

The British Empire entered the twentieth century in a state of crisis, with many in the legal establishment fearing that the British constitution could no longer cope with the complexity of imperial institutions. At the same time, the military establishment feared the empire was becoming impossible to defend from multiplying threats. In this innovative study, Jesse Tumblin shows how Britain and its largest colonies, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, India, and South Africa, were swept up in a collective effort to secure the Empire in the early twentieth century. The hierarchy of colonial politics created powerful incentives for colonies to militarize before World War I, reshaping their constitutional and racial relationships toward a dream beyond colonial status. The colonial backstory of a century of war and violence shows how these dreams made 'security' the dominating feature of contemporary politics.


‘This is the best work of its kind since Max Beloff's Imperial Sunset a full fifty years ago. But it goes further than that earlier study by grappling with the racial and nationalist dimensions of the many endeavours to establish a lasting British imperial federation throughout the storm-tossed twentieth century.'

Paul Kennedy - Yale University, Connecticut

‘A brilliant work of original scholarship. Tumblin's theoretical approach and archival globetrotting provides a much-needed new perspective on the constitutional evolution of the British Empire. An important read for any student of colonialism and the First World War.'

John C. Mitcham - Duquesne University of the Holy Spirit, Pennsylvania

‘A highly revealing exploration of the nexus between imperial security concerns and international sovereignty that ultimately led to the Statute of Westminster. The Quest for Security is especially valuable for its inclusion of Ireland and India alongside the white settler dominions. Strongly recommended.'

John Beeler - University of Alabama

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