The Gun, the Ship and the Pen



‘If there were a Nobel Prize in History, Colley would be my nominee’ Jill Lepore, New Yorker’One of the most exciting historians of her generation, but also one of the most interesting writers of non-fiction around’ – William Dalrymple, Guardian’Colley takes you on intellectual journeys you wouldn’t think to take on your own, and when you arrive you wonder that you never did it before’ – David Aaronovitch, the Times’A global history of remarkable depth, imagination and insight’ Tony Barber, Financial Times Summer BooksStarting not with the United States, but with the Corsican constitution of 1755, The Gun, the Ship, and the Pen moves through every continent, disrupting accepted narratives. Both monarchs and radicals play a role, from Catherine the Great of Russia, with her remarkable Nakaz, to Sierra Leone’s James Africanus Horton, to Tunisia’s Khayr-al-Din, a creator of the first modern Islamic constitution. Throughout, Colley demonstrates how constitutions evolved in tandem with warfare, and how they have functioned to advance empire as well as promote nations, and worked to exclude as well as liberate.Whether reinterpreting Japan’s momentous 1889 constitution, or exploring the significance of the first constitution to enfranchise all adult women on Pitcairn Island in the Pacific in 1838, this is one of the most original global histories in decades.

ISBN: 9781846684982

In stock

These days, most countries have a constitution – written or unwritten. The rules therein provide a reference point for government and the judiciary, and are appealed to by politicians, defendants, plaintiffs, activists, corporations, and angry commentators on social media. Even when ignored, the existence of constitutions is an accepted fact. But in Europe, the idea of the constitution is only a few centuries old, gaining traction only with the ascendancy of the Enlightenment. The first written constitution was only implemented in 1755 by the short-lived republic of Corsica. That constitution, like many others, was won through armed conflict and sustained by the support of a regional power – Great Britain. Linda Colley examines the age of Constitutions and reveals that most were the product of armed conflict.

Additional information

Weight0.38 kg
Dimensions19.8 × 12.8 × 3.6 cm










320.3 (edition:23)


General – Trade / Code: K

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