The Sun Never Sets On The British Empire

Hampton Court, Kew Gardens, The British Museum, Oxford Street, the Fitzwilliam Museum, and many, many cones of gelato later, we’ve officially begun week two of Cambridge Summer Study Abroad. So far, the experience has been surreal.

Cambridge University is broken up into 31 colleges, we are at Christ’s College, which is located in the city center, but more importantly close to the crepe truck.

Last week we discussed the ethics of warfare and the American Revolution. Did you know that the British viewed the American Revolution (or War for American Independence) as a civil war?  I didn’t either! Too cool, right?! We watched Revolution which follows one man’s experience throughout the war. Although I didn’t find the film particularly entertaining, it did do a remarkable job of keeping a neutral point of view on the conflict.

This week we are discussing the Mau Mau Insurgency and the Malaya Emergency, and will be watching Simba (unrelated to the Lion King, much to our disappointment) on Wednesday. Both of these conflicts have had a great deal of influence on present counterinsurgency strategy for many nations, including the United Kingdom and the United States. The locations each of these insurgencies exemplify exactly how far the British empire stretched around the world.

The expansion of the British empire has been a theme in both classes, and is a major point of study for my final research paper: for the British mainland, war strategy exploits geography. I will be discussing how the Britain’s war strategy  gives account to, takes advantage of, and makes full use of its geography. 

Super excited to continue into our second week of study at Cambridge!

“Strategy is revolution. Everything else is tactics.”- Lawrence Freedman, War

“War has no constant dynamic, water has no constant flow.’- Tzu Sun, The Art of War


  1. mescreen says:

    Hi Maggie! Your time in Cambridge sounds very rewarding. I find it very interesting that the British viewed the American Revolution as a civil war. This fact reminds me of two very different things. First, Hamilton is coming to the West End soon and people have been speculating at what the response will be. What do you think the Brits will think of the content of the play? Do modern day British people still view it as a civil war?

    Second, this reminds me of how important it is to study both sides of a conflict to get a broader picture of what happened. There is an unavoidable bias when writing history and it is fascinating to see how each side views a conflict. I took a Latin American History to 1825 class this past fall and it changed some of my previous misconceptions about the history of the continent. A lot of the myths that were started by conquistadors back in the day are still present in our version of the events, which surprised me. Have you found anything in your research so far that differs from what the American education system taught you previously?

  2. ellenlongman says:

    So interesting to hear about your experiences, Maggie! I’m also in the U.K, and really enjoyed both Oxford Street and The Brtish Museum.