The Great Defiance

The Great Defiance

How the world took on the British Empire


'Veevers brilliantly retells the story we thought we knew...Important and thrilling' Dan Snow

The story of the British Empire is a familiar one: Britain came, it saw, it conquered, forging a glorious world empire upon which the sun never set. In fact, far from being the tale of a single nation imposing its will upon the world, the expanding British Empire frequently found itself frustrated by the power and tenacious resistance of the Indigenous and non-European people it encountered. From gruelling wars in Ireland to the failure to curtail North African Corsair states, all the way to the collapse of commercial operations in East Asia, British attempts to create an imperial enterprise often ended in disaster and even defeat.

In The Great Defiance, David Veevers looks beyond the myths of triumph and into the realities of British misadventures in the early days of Empire, meeting the extraordinary Indigenous and non-European people across the world who were the real forces to be reckoned with.

From the Indian Emperors who contained the nefarious ambitions of the East India Company, to the West African Kings who resisted British demands and set the terms of the trade in enslaved people, to the Paramount Chiefs in America who fought to expunge English colonists from their homelands, this book retells the history of early Empire from the all too familiar story of conquest to one of empowering defiance and resistance.


  • Veevers brilliantly retells the story we thought we knew...Important and thrilling
    Dan Snow

About the author

David Veevers

Dr David Veevers is an award-winning historian and Lecturer in Early Modern History at the University of Bangor, and was formerly a Leverhulme Fellow in the School of History at Queen Mary, University of London. His PhD is from the University of Kent, with work specialising in the British Empire and its role internationally. His acclaimed academic book, The Origins of the British Empire in Asia, 1600 - 1750, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2020.
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