Imperialism in the Twentieth Century was first published in 1978. Minnesota Archive Editions uses digital technology to make long-unavailable books once again accessible, and are published unaltered from the original University of Minnesota Press editions.
"Nothing is filed under the heading 'imperialism' in the archives of any nation-state that owned an empire. Foreign affairs, or external relations, are catalogued there, and a place is found for imperial administration and colonial trade; but 'imperialism' is always a listing in someone else's index, never one's own. It is not the name a government uses to classify the policies it sets in motion. It is the name given them by those who adopt a particular attitude... In our time the attitude toward this control is hostile."
With these words A.P. Thornton takes on a complex and elusive term, imperialism,and pursues its meaning and implications in the years of imperial decline. The disappearance of territorial empire, according to Thornton, did not bring imperial impulses to an end, nor did it destroy the power relationships set up in the heyday of empire. Casting a cool eye on the claims of both imperialism and nationalism—the principal countervailing force—Thornton brings imagination, wide learning, and clarifying wit to bear upon a subject that remains significant in the last quarter of the twentieth century.