Stuart Laycock started researching for his new book after his 11-year old son asked him a very simple question: How many countries has Britain invaded overall?
Britain's history is much better documented than most countries, and for obvious reasons--at the end of Laycock's two-year research cycle, he concluded that all but a mere 22 nations in the world had at one point experienced some kind of British invasion. Again, that means every single country in the world except for 22. That's just stunning.
To be entirely accurate, Laycock actually suspects that some of the untouched 22 (such as Mongolia) could have been invaded by Brits at some point but the lack of hard evidence restricted him from including such cases.
The next country to top the list of most world invasions is France, which shouldn't surprise anybody who can remember their high school history classes.
And the connection to today? Notice how these countries have extremely active and well-funded cultural organizations that work as ambassadors for their people instead of their governments. Britain has the British Council, France has Alliance Française, and I'll also throw in Germany's Goethe Institut.
None of these organizations are embedded within their government structure, as that would be adding unwanted baggage to an already difficult task. Sometimes the role of people and culture is to try to balance out their government's mistakes as well as to ensure the distinction between citizens and states.
Definitely on my reading list now: All the Countries We've Ever Invaded: And the Few We Never Got Round To