What do Burundi, Guatemala, Luxembourg and Uzbekistan all have in common? Simple: They are four of the small handful of countries in the world that have never directly experienced British military intervention.
According to a new book, entitled All the Countries We’ve Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To by British author Stuart Laycock, Great Britain has used its military to coerce, dominate, assist or subjugate more than 82 percent of the countries in the world – no small feat for a tiny island nation that’s roughly half the size of the state of California.
Laycock told the British newspaper The Daily Telegraph last weekend that the idea for the book came to him when his son asked how many locations on the planet the United Kingdom had fought in.
“I was absolutely staggered when I reached the total. I like to think I have a relatively good general knowledge. But there are places where it hadn’t occurred to me that these things had ever happened,” Laycock told the Telegraph. “Other countries could write similar books – but they would be much shorter. I don’t think anyone could match this, although the Americans had a later start and have been working hard on it in the twentieth century.”
Laycock admits that the definition of “invaded” is broad for the purposes of his book. To make the list, a country or region didn’t necessarily have to be conquered or colonized by the British. He included any state that had ever played host (either willingly or unwillingly) to British troops, aircraft or warships. According to The Telegraph piece, Laycock even considered forays by British pirates and privateers, as well as those by armed explorers as meeting his definition of military involvement. Based on these criteria, only 22 countries can claim to be untouched by the force of British arms.
The author told the newspaper that he doesn’t want anyone to confuse his book for an indictment of British Imperialism – he wrote it mostly out of curiosity.
“The book is not intended as any kind of moral judgment on our history or our empire. It is meant as a light-hearted bit of fun,” Laycock told The Telegraph.
Amazon.com is selling the book here.
By the way, here is the list of countries never ‘visited’ by the British.
Central African Republic*
Congo, Republic of
Sao Tome and Principe
* Since this article was first published in Nov. 2012, the British have sent forces to the troubled Central African Republic. Thanks to Stephen Morrison for the tweet.
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