The Anarchy

By William Dalrymple,

Book cover of The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire

Book description

THE TOP 5 SUNDAY TIMES BESTSELLER ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S BEST BOOKS OF 2019 THE TIMES HISTORY BOOK OF THE YEAR FINALIST FOR THE CUNDILL HISTORY PRIZE 2020 LONGLISTED FOR THE BAILLIE GIFFORD PRIZE FOR NON-FICTION 2019 A FINANCIAL TIMES, OBSERVER, DAILY TELEGRAPH, WALL STREET JOURNAL AND TIMES BOOK OF…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked The Anarchy as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand’s Empire podcast series has been transformative in the understanding it has generated and the audiences it has reached in the last year (1 million plus in January 2023 alone).

The Anarchy is one of the core books of Dalrymple’s extraordinary research and scholarship which has changed our understanding of the generation and development of the British Raj in India and which brings into view more clearly and accurately than ever before, the toxic legacy of the East India Company and its company state apparatus.

Yet unlike some other authors, Dalrymple is content to let the…

The East India Company was an unusual organization, to say the least, beginning as a conventional international trading corporation, dealing in silks and spices, and becoming an aggressive colonial power.

Its complicated nature is one of the reasons why the British empire is so poorly understood: people struggle to comprehend how a company could have been imperial. Dalrymple does a great job of explaining it in this incredibly accessible book.

One of my all-time favourite books on Indian history.

It’s hard to understand why much, if not most, Middle East foreign policy in the previous two world wars was driven by Britain’s need to protect access to India without reading William Dalrymple’s The Anarchy. Dalrymple goes back four centuries to explain, in a stunning portrait of the first public-private partnership between a government and a multinational corporation, the East India Company that fractured the enormously wealthy Mughal empire and then the British Parliament when it was discovered to be using its own shares to buy politicians willing to subvert the law in its favor. Parliament’s willingness to unleash…

A close friend in Karachi, Pakistan, called to tell me a few years ago that she had attended a fascinating talk at the Sindh Club by William Dalrymple, a Scottish historian who had just published a definitive history of the East India Company from its founding in 1600 through its conquering of almost all of India as the Mogul Dynasty collapsed in the next two centuries. The history reads more like a novel, with graphic details of Indian and British personalities and the battles they fought for control of the subcontinent with its untold riches at stake. One will never…

The East India Company, founded when Elizabeth I was on the throne, may rightly lay claim to being the world’s first global corporate power that, in little under a century, from the early 1700s to around the time of Waterloo had, in effect, conquered an entire sub-continent and laid the foundation for the British Empire, oven-ready for the Victorians, you might say.

The way it did this, suborning both Mughal Emperors and reluctant British governments, is the warp and weft of this magnificently researched and meticulously written book. It is not an easy story to follow and one is minded…

The English East India Company under Robert Clive became the greatest corporation in the world, rivaled, possibly, only by the Dutch East India Company. It is also one of the most storied businesses, its rise, and expansion so improbable, violent and spectacular that it nearly defies credulity. The East India Company was so dominant and so all-pervading that its history has been used as the model for countless fictional conglomerates in novels and films. Its power became so titanic that it ended up, by accident and the seemingly fearless or foolhardy actions of Clive, as the government of millions of…

From Stephen's list on big ideas in world history.

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