Recent writing on the cultural history of nineteenth-century British imperialism has tended to concentrate on questions of difference and identity. Cannadine's Ornamentalism, however, focuses less on difference than on commonality. Both his critique of the literature and his methodology are flawed. Ornamentalism also suggests the limitations of cultural history. Late Victorian Holocausts, by Mike Davis, offers new possibilities for the study of imperialism, by combining a history of ideas with an analysis of famine and global environmental change. His romanticization of the state detracts from what is otherwise a provocative work. Both books point to the urgent need to revitalize the social history of empire.