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A great deal of the world's history is the history of empires. Indeed it could be said that all history is colonial history, if one takes a broad enough definition and goes far enough back. And although the great historic imperial systems, the land-based Russian one as well as the seaborne empires of western European powers, have collapsed during the past half century, their legacies shape almost every aspect of life on a global scale. Meanwhile there is fierce argument, and much speculation, about what has replaced the old territorial empires in world politics. Do the United States and its allies, transnational companies, financial and media institutions, or more broadly the forces of 'globalization', constitute a new imperial system? Stephen Howe interprets the meaning of the idea of 'empire' through the ages, disentangling the multiple uses and abuses of the labels 'empire', 'colonialism', etc., and examines the aftermath of imperialism on the contemporary world. ABOUT THE SERIES: The Very Short Introductions series from Oxford University Press contains hundreds of titles in almost every subject area. These pocket-sized books are the perfect way to get ahead in a new subject quickly. Our expert authors combine facts, analysis, perspective, new ideas, and enthusiasm to make interesting and challenging topics highly readable.