In this clear and concise reassessment of British imperialism, Willie Thompson examines the underlying social, economic and political forces that facilitated expansion during the key period of 1870--1914. Relating colonial expansion to both domestic politics and international relations, Professor Thompson identifies the shifts in world economic and political relationships, especially the challenge from an emergent German Reich, as the driving forces behind the fresh burst of expansionist energy during the period. He considers in detail the relations with the British state and various types of colony, from the semi-autonomous settlement colonies to wholly subordinated African territories and semi-colonies such as China and the Ottoman Empire. The impact of imperial ideology on British society and culture, both official and popular, and on political perceptions is explored, as is the structure of international relations and tensions generated by this phase of imperialism. This is the first short text to bring together the various dimensions of late-- nineteenth-century imperialism -- not just colonial expansion -- and view them within the context of a broader post--seventeenth-century imperial development.