David VeeversNov 4, 2023
The Great Defiance
How the World Took on the British Empire
Ebury Press 2023
The story of the British Empire is a familiar one: Britain came, it saw, it conquered, forging a glorious world empire upon which the sun never set. In fact, far from being the tale of a single nation imposing its will upon the world, the expanding British Empire frequently found itself frustrated by the power and tenacious resistance of the Indigenous and non-European people it encountered. From gruelling wars in Ireland to the failure to curtail North African Corsair states, all the way to the collapse of commercial operations in East Asia, British attempts to create an imperial enterprise often ended in disaster and even defeat.
In The Great Defiance: How the World Took on the British Empire (Ebury Press, 2023), David Veevers looks beyond the myths of triumph and into the realities of British misadventures in the early days of Empire, meeting the extraordinary Indigenous and non-European people across the world who were the real forces to be reckoned with. From the Indian Emperors who contained the nefarious ambitions of the East India Company, to the West African Kings who resisted British demands and set the terms of the trade in enslaved people, to the Paramount Chiefs in America who fought to expunge English colonists from their homelands, this book retells the history of early Empire from the all too familiar story of conquest to one of empowering defiance and resistance.
David Veevers is Lecturer in Early Modern History at University of Bangor. He read History at the University of Kent, where he also completed his MA and earned his PhD in 2015. His thesis was a study of the English East India Company in South Asia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, exploring in particular the way in which informal social networks shaped the formation of an early modern colonial state. He stayed at Kent to take up the position of Postdoctoral Associate before moving to Queen Mary, University of London, to undertake a 4-year Leverhulme Early Career Fellowship in the School of History in 2018. He joined the School of History, Law, and Social Sciences at the University of Bangor in 2022, where he teaches courses on seventeenth century England, early modern Asia, and global history more widely. Veevers is the author of numerous articles and his The Origins of the British Empire in Asia, 1600 - 1750, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020. With William A. Pettigrew he edited The Corporation as a Protagonist in Global History, 1550 – 1750 (Brill, 2018, Open Access). The Great Defiance: How the World Took on the British Empire came out in May 2023 with Penguin/Ebury.
Michael G. Vann is a professor of world history at California State University, Sacramento. A specialist in imperialism and the Cold War in Southeast Asia, he is the author of The Great Hanoi Rat Hunt: Empires, Disease, and Modernity in French Colonial Vietnam (Oxford University Press, 2018). When he’s not reading or talking about new books with smart people, Mike can be found surfing in Santa Cruz, California.