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Between Empire and Continent: British Foreign Policy before the First World War

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Volume 5

Studies in British and Imperial History

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Between Empire and Continent

British Foreign Policy before the First World War

Andreas Rose
Translated from the German by Rona Johnston
Foreword by Sir Christopher Clark, author of Sleepwalkers

542 pages, 1 illus., 4 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-1-78533-578-5 $179.00/£132.00 Hb Published (May 2017)

ISBN  978-1-78920-507-7 $39.95/£31.95 Pb Published (October 2019)

eISBN 978-1-78533-579-2 eBook

Hb Pb View cartYour country: United States - Click here to remove geolocation   Buy the eBook! $39.95 Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format) Recommend to your Library Available in GOBI®


“Supported by a wealth of research and an extensive command of the historical literature on the subject, the book is important for academic libraries focusing on modern British history, diplomatic history, and the history of WW I…Highly recommended.” • Choice

Between Empire and Continent takes this reviewer’s understanding of events to an entirely different level and will no doubt become a key text. This is a book that offers much… It is a highly sophisticated piece of writing, and another close read of this fascinating study will no doubt produce many more important insights.” • American Historical Review

“Likely to invigorate the revisionist interpretation of British foreign policy before 1914… The focus suggested by the title… is where future research should find a fruitful starting point.” • The Journal of Modern History

“If Ranke actually held fast to his famous concept of the primacy of foreign policy, he might not have liked Rose's conclusions, but surely he would have approved the scholarship.” • The International History Review

“The quality of this research is outstanding.” • William Mulligan, University of Dublin

“Meticulously researched and masterfully argued… Rose skillfully demonstrates that, driven by domestic concerns and by the strategic challenge posed primarily by France and Russia, rather than Germany, Britain embarked on a radical overhaul of its foreign affairs.” • Thomas Weber, University of Aberdeen


Prior to World War I, Britain was at the center of global relations, utilizing tactics of diplomacy as it broke through the old alliances of European states. Historians have regularly interpreted these efforts as a reaction to the aggressive foreign policy of the German Empire. However, as Between Empire and Continent demonstrates, British foreign policy was in fact driven by a nexus of intra-British, continental and imperial motivations. Recreating the often heated public sphere of London at the turn of the twentieth century, this groundbreaking study carefully tracks the alliances, conflicts, and political maneuvering from which British foreign and security policy were born.

Andreas Rose teaches Modern History at the University of Bonn. His research interests include the international history of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries and the history of Britain and Germany. His recent publications include Die Außenpolitik des Wilhelminischen Kaiserreichs, 1890–1918 (2013) and, as coeditor, The Wars before the Great War: Conflict and International Politics before the Outbreak of the Great War (2015).

Subject: History: 20th Century to Present
Area: Europe


List of Tables and Illustrations

Foreword by Sir Christopher Clark


Chapter 1. The Public Sphere in Edwardian London
Chapter 2. The Policy of Drift?: Balance of Power, Concert of Europe, or Political Power Blocs?
Chapter 3. Safety First: The Politics of Defence and the Realities behind Diplomacy
Chapter 4. Imperial Defence or Continental Commitment?
Chapter 5. Foreign Policy under Lansdowne and Balfour
Chapter 6. The Myth of Continuity: Foreign Policy under Edward Grey
Chapter 7. The Committee of Four: The German Peril Revisited
Chapter 8. At the Cost of Stability: The Anglo-Russian Convention and its European Implications
Chapter 9. ‘More Russian than the Russians’? British Balkan Diplomacy and the Annexation of Bosnia 1908/9

Conclusion and Perspectives: The Triad of British Foreign Politics


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