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Clay Vessel

Nigel Biggar’s defense of the British Empire is worthy; his defense of the liberal international order is less convincing.

Soldiers Wearing Various British Army Uniforms
(Photo by © Hulton-Deutsch Collection/CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images)

Colonialism: A Moral Reckoning, by Nigel Biggar, William Collins, 651 pages.

In a village in northern India, shortly before the end of the Raj, a British officer walked down the road. It was a hot day, and a native family noticed the officer’s conspicuous perspiration; they invited him in and offered him water. He noticed that, while he was served in a poor clay cup, the family themselves drank from metal cups. After finishing his water, the officer stood wordlessly, crushed the vessel, and resumed his journey.