I'm struck by how impressively John Elliott assimilated new work on early modern England and colonial America, as well as keeping abreast with his own Hispanic studies, so as to write his recent 'Empires of the Atlantic World.'
Look at how the British covered India with railroads, and it is easy to view them as modernisers. Look, however, at the abysmal levels of mass illiteracy in the subcontinent they left behind in 1947, and they appear rather differently.
Once conscription was introduced during the First World War, and once Britain's wars ceased being confined to the empire or to continental Europe and began seriously threatening our own shores and safety, it became much easier to denounce any anti-war agitation and argument as inherently irresponsible and unpatriotic.
From the very beginning, Americans have exhibited a taste for expansion, an appetite for empire. One of the fundamental reasons for this is very clear. Like every other western empire that has ever existed, Americans may claim to have inherited the mantle of ancient Rome.
If you believe you are the city on the hill, the world's best hope, it is tempting also to believe that outside your boundaries are barbarians.
In the past, Britons were scathing about the cruelties of the old Roman empire and the excesses of Catholic empire builders such as the Spanish and the French. They convinced themselves that their empire was different and benign because it rested on sea power and trade rather than on armies.
Many Britons who backed Brexit believed - and believe still - that a U.K. 'freed' from 'Europe' would be able to recover and re-establish its historic destiny as an independent global trading nation.
For many on the Right, America is to be routinely celebrated because it stands for free enterprise and global power; for many on the Left, America merits perpetual suspicion and censure for the self-same reasons.
The British especially have no excuse for forgetting that empire is a most complex and persistent beast. And it has claws.
The immediate impact of British imperial free-trading was often the collapse of local indigenous industries which were in no position to compete, and a consequent destruction of livelihoods and communities.
A society that feels itself to be flourishing is likely to interpret everything that happens to its own advantage and in its own image. By contrast, a society that feels confused or in decline often converts any event - however innocuous - into a weapon of self-laceration.
British prime ministers and prime ministers' spouses and children are together becoming ever more like first families. They need to be given sufficient resources and personnel to enable them to carry out their shifting roles efficiently, decently, and safely.
In the past, the imperialism of the West, like that of the rest, was often difficult - for the doers as well as for their victims - but western states were, nonetheless, usually able to dispatch forces overseas against non-western peoples without any fear of being attacked themselves. That kind of immunity is probably now a thing of the past.
Irrespective of their party affiliation or wishes on the matter, those governing from 10 Downing Street now have to take on much of the aura and role of head of state. And this is bound to have heavy consequences for their family.
In the past, rulers led their troops into battle and, even in peacetime, called themselves fathers of their people. And modern politics retains abundant masculine rituals. Prime minister's question time in Britain, for instance, is a stylised duel and tournament redolent of testosterone.
Many of the Victorian and Edwardian activists who campaigned for Irish home rule, for instance, also wanted what they called 'home rule all round': separate parliaments not simply for Ireland but also for the Scots and the Welsh - and for the English.
Embarking upon war is always dangerous for national leaders because it makes them more than ever at the mercy of events. When domestic opinion is acutely divided, however, war can be politically lethal for its makers.
The so-called Boer War advertised British vulnerabilities, and these were confirmed by the Irish rising of 1916 and the subsequent creation of the Irish Free State, blows that attracted the notice and attention of colonial dissidents in Asia and Africa.
Transatlantic flights are unflattering. Hairstyles flop. Makeup melts away. Faces shrivel or swell from dehydration, and contact lenses give way to spectacles.
In both British and American history, fervent imperialism has always coexisted with bouts of fierce isolationism.