Wild, Anthony The East India Company

ISBN 13: 9780006414544

The East India Company

 
9780006414544: The East India Company

Established by Royal Charter in 1600, the East India Company was, and remains to this day, the largest and most powerful multinational business the world has ever seen. It controlled over half the world's trade and a quarter of its population. It singlehandedly ruled India, raised its own army and navy, minted its own currency, and traded with every corner of the globe. It also trafficked in opium, greed, and brutal oppression, sowing the seeds that would lead to its downfall -- and absorption by the British Crown."The East India Company" describes how "the Honourable Company" created its extraordinary trading empire by introducing an exotic cache of tea, silks, porcelain, cashmere, and spices to a luxury-starved England. It also explains how the company conducted its day-to-day business at home and in the East, through colorful figures such as Captain James Skinner and John Nicholson; how the opulent daily life of East India Company rulers amongst the ruled led to "the Mutiny"; and why India's first war of independence spelled an end not only to the company itself, but, eventually, to an entire empire.

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Product Description:

The East India Company has played a crucial role in the development of the world as we know it and is key to the very fabric of British society and culture. In the year 2,000, a major exhibition at the British Library celebrates the 400th anniversary of the birth of this unique institution.

Established by Royal Charter in 1600, the East India Company quickly came to control over half the world’s trade and a quarter of its population. It ruled India, raised its own army and navy, minted its own currency and traded with every corner of the globe.

The structure of the book will be broadly chronological, but also focus on particular subjects and incidents – tea, silks, jewellery, cashmere, spices, ships and navigation, battles, communication routes, the opium trade, the English gentleman abroad, India’s First War of Independence, etc.

The East India Company is alive and well today and has access to a visual archive of its history, which would be used to illustrate the book.

Review:

The East India Company, which laid the foundations for parts of the British Empire, now exists as a plc. Its past achievements, and indeed its dangers, blunders and corruption, are the subject of a book by one of its current directors, a writer of several other books on related subjects. Antony Wild packages the research of historians together with a distinctive writing style which is frequently irreverent and droll, resulting in a text which can be unexpectedly humorous. The glorious illustrations, often full page and in full colour, are almost a distraction from the text, though diligent readers will be rewarded by discovering some fascinating historical minutiae. Describing how the Company diverted from its original conception as a trading organisation to a kind of quasi-state with its own army and navy, annexing, manipulating and politicking its way to power, the book reveals its many and varied legacies. The breadth of that influence is reflected in the coverage, which touches on subjects as diverse as shipbuilding, Paisley shawls, war and opium, concentrating for the most part, but not exclusively, on the Company's impact on Westerners. Entertaining and beautifully presented The East India Company provides the non-specialist reader with a palatable dose of social history and plenty of valuable general knowledge. Karen Tiley

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