New Books Network

Kathleen Burk

The Lion and the Eagle

The Interaction of the British and American Empires, 1783-1972

Bloomsbury 2019

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in British StudiesNew Books in HistoryNew Books in National SecurityNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in World AffairsNew Books Network April 2, 2019 Charles Coutinho

Throughout modern history, British and American rivalry has gone hand in hand with common interests. Now renowned diplomatic historian Professor Kathleen Burk in her...

Throughout modern history, British and American rivalry has gone hand in hand with common interests. Now renowned diplomatic historian Professor Kathleen Burk in her newest book, The Lion and the Eagle: The Interaction of the British and American Empires, 1783-1972 (Bloomsbury, 2019), examines the different kinds and forms of power and influence that these the two empires have projected, and the ways and means they have used to do it. What these two empires have shared is a mixture of pragmatism, ruthless commercial drive, a self-righteous foreign policy and plenty of naked aggression. These have been aimed against each other more than once; yet their underlying alliance against common enemies has been historically unique and a defining force throughout the twentieth century.

This is a global history of an unusual type: the rise and fall of empires projected against their joint interaction with Japan, China in the 19th century and vis-á-vis Europe and the Near East in the 20th century. Ranging from America’s futile attempts to conquer Canada in the early 19th century to her success in the mid-19th century to opening up Japan; from Britain’s success in forcing open China to her loss of the Middle East to the US in the 20th century; and from the American conquest of the Philippines to her destruction of the British Empire. The Pax Americana replaced the Pax Britannica, but now some say that the American world order is in turn fading, threatening Britain’s belief in her own world role as America’s junior partner and ally.  All from the author of the well received, Old World, New World and Troublemaker: the life and history of A. J. P. Taylor.


Charles Coutinho has a doctorate in history from New York University. Where he studied with Tony Judt, Stewart Stehlin and McGeorge Bundy. His Ph. D. dissertation was on Anglo-American relations in the run-up to the Suez Crisis of 1956. His area of specialization is 19th and 20th-century European, American diplomatic and political history. He has written recently for the Journal of Intelligence History and Chatham House’s International Affairs. It you have a recent title to suggest for a podcast, please send an e-mail to Charlescoutinho@aol.com.