British Empire Books

Empire to Commonwealth - A Pictorial History

AuthorRev. B. Anthony Hathaway-Taylor
PublisherRichard Clay
Available as PDFsHere

This is a very interesting, if a little unusual, book charting images, flags, standards, medallions and so on and so forth covering all the major institutions of The British Empire and the succeeding Commonwealth. It is a vast collection of a disparate range of Imperial and Commonwealth related topics. The book has over 450 pages with often a dozen images per page. That weighs in as a hefty collection of often beautiful heraldric images, badges or flags. In fact, it is possible to be overwhelmed and drown in all the images collected! There is an extensive table of contents available and the organisational structures are often restated and explained to help the reader - but it can still be a daunting task.

As the title of the book explains, this is a pictorial history. There is very little additional information other than providing dates or names of the pictures being presented. The images often whet your appetite and you want to find out more about where such an base may have been located or when it was in operation - you won't find much to help you though - not that you could squeeze it in anywhere - this is already a mighty tome. This really is a pictorial collection with the limitations that that title would imply.

The author has very kindly donated his research to the public via pdfs available via his website. He has said that the majority of the images are sourced from original copyright holders - which are credited at the back of the book. However, it would have been nice to know precisely which image came from which website or book in case the reader wanted to track down the original derivation of the image. Although I do recognise that this is a highly time consuming and laborious process.

This is a very useful reference book. If you need to find a particular image, map or badge, then you are very likely to find it presented on these pages. It would make a nice coffee table book or to spark the interest of someone who served in the armed forces or lived in the colonies or Commonwealth. It will not answer many specific questions, but it will want you to find out more about the people, places or institutions of the Empire and the Commonwealth.

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by Stephen Luscombe