London ; New York : Allen Lane, 2007.
xxvii, 559 pages, 8 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations, maps ; 24 cm

""I have not become the King's First Minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the British Empire."" "Winston Churchill's famous statement in November 1942, just as the tide of the Second World War was beginning to turn, pugnaciously proclaimed his loyalty to the worldwide institution that he had served devotedly for most of his life. The majority of the British people, who believed that they were fighting the war to beat the Germans and preserve the Empire, shared his view." "Yet less than five years after Churchill's trenchant speech, and despite - apparently - winning the war, the British Empire effectively ended with Indian Independence in August 1947, coinciding with a devastating sterling crisis and a collapse of British will to continue their Mandate in Palestine. How did this rapid change of fortune come about?" "Peter Clarke's book is the first to analyse in detail the losing hand that Britain was dealt in the last years of the war and then to see how that hand was played over the next two years by Churchill's successors. Its originality lies in the detailed narrative that shows how military, political and economic developments bore down upon each other. It makes use of the copious letters and diaries of the major participants and many involved observers now available to show how decisions were taken, and of contemporary newspaper reports and witnesses to show how those decisions were received: it re-creates both the geopolitics and the atmosphere of the period." "Not least, it analyses dispassionately the role of the USA: how Roosevelt and his successors were determined that Britain must be sustained both during the war and after, but that the British Empire must not; and how the tension between Allied war aims, suppressed while the fighting continued, became readily apparent when it stopped. The book thus also describes the short, pivotal period when American influence finally took over from the British in world politics."--Jacket.