In his recent work on the Rise and Fall of the Great Powers, Paul Kennedy stresses the importance of Great Britain's colonial empire in establishing its credentials as the most imposing ofthe great powers in the decades before the First World War. Britain not only possessed ‘the greatest empire the world had ever seen’, but its status as the great global power appeared to be enhanced by the fact that in the last three decades of the nineteenth century ‘it had added 4.25 million miles and 66 million people to the empire’. Other key ‘indicators of British strength’ marshalled by Kennedy include overseas fleets, naval bases and cable stations, which were inextricably bound up with its farflung colonial enterprises. Though empire is essential to Britain's great power status, in Kennedy's argument it has almost nothing to do with the steady decline in British power in the period before the Great War and, at an accelerating pace, throughout the twentieth century. He alludes in places to imperial crises and commitments as key contributors to Britain's perilously overextended position both before and after the war. He also concedes that resistance by colonized peoples, whether in the form of ‘tribal unrest’ or ‘western-educated lawyers and intellectuals seeking to create mass parties’ was somewhat troublesome, but ‘less threatening’ than developments within Europe itself. In Kennedy's view, Britain's retreat from imperial and global power (and, for that matter, that of France as well) can best be understood by charting the decline, relative to that of the other great powers, of its economic base, both industrial and commercial, and its incapacity, due to that decline, to meet the ever-expanding and more costly military commitments that its leaders viewed as essential to the maintenance of its positions as a great power.