The best books on the East India Company

5 authors have picked their favorite books about the East India Company and why they recommend each book.

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The Anarchy

By William Dalrymple,

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

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 The Company to pillage countries it wished to subjugate did not go unnoticed in America, where patriots dumped its tea into Boston Harbor and triggered the American War of Independence in order to prevent “America being devoured by rats”: this, however, did not prevent 20th-century American monopolies from insinuating themselves…

The Anarchy

By William Dalrymple,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Anarchy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 THE YEAR 'Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India ... A book of beauty' - Gerard DeGroot, The Times In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish a new administration in his richest provinces. Run by English…


Who am I?

I’ve been fascinated by the Middle East ever since being taken to see Kismet at the age of 3. I travel there extensively, married into it, and have lived inside the Middle East community in the US for the past thirty years. I’m also a journalist, a playwright, and the author of three non-fiction books, Making the World Safe for Tourism, Aaronsohn’s Maps, and INTERLOCK: Art, Conspiracy, and The Shadow Worlds of Mark Lombardi. Although I wouldn't argue that the issue of women’s rights isn't an urgent one, as a woman who focuses on history and geopolitics, I’m often disturbed at how it's being used to whip up popular emotion and obscure other driving forces. 


I wrote...

Aaronsohn's Maps: The Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Modern Middle East

By Patricia Goldstone,

Book cover of Aaronsohn's Maps: The Man Who Might Have Created Peace in the Modern Middle East

What is my book about?

Scientist, diplomat, and spy, Aaron Aaronsohn’s fascinating story will come as a major surprise to most students of Middle Eastern history. The early 20th-century agronomist and hydrologist’s exploits easily rival those of the fabled Lawrence of Arabia.

Emigrating as a small child to Palestine with his Romanian parents ahead of a wave of pogroms in 1882, Aaronsohn grew up to create the first comprehensive water maps of Palestine and Syria, maps later used to draft the region’s new boundaries at the Paris Peace Conference in 1919. A history that speaks directly to the present, Aaronsohn’s Maps reveals for the first time Aaronsohn’s foresight in establishing water, not oil, as the driving force in Middle East politics, and the enduring importance of his maps today.

The Van Rijn Method

By Poul Anderson,

Book cover of The Van Rijn Method

This omnibus collects eleven short stories about space merchant Nicholas Van Rijn. Van Rijn (no coincidence that he’s Dutch) is literate, clever, eccentric in speech, archaic in dress, and occasionally valiant in battle – but he’d much rather trade than fight, and although he describes trade as “swindling each other,” he characteristically strikes deals that benefit all parties.

Van Rijn’s trade-in spices (he is CEO of the Solar Spice and Liquors Company) is a callout to the history of the Dutch East India Company. The great early modern companies (and specifically, the British East India Company) are one of the inspirations in my book: they founded some fortunes and give to startling adventure stories, but the contradictions inherent in their nature also led to corruption and oppression.

The Van Rijn Method

By Poul Anderson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Van Rijn Method as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Follow the exploits of Nicholas Van Rijn, one of Science Fiction's most popular characters, as told by Science Fiction's Grand Master, Poul Anderson, in Volume 1 in the Complete Technic Civilization Series.


Who am I?

I’m a science fiction and fantasy novelist and editor. I’m also a corporate lawyer and mergers and acquisitions consultant. I have a passion for trade, in history, games, literature, and even real life. I fear that we have far too much art glorifying killers and bullies, and I think the future will be built, as the past has been, by people who are willing to explore, meet other cultures, get to know them, and work to find deals that will benefit everyone involved.


I wrote...

Abbott in Darkness

By D.J. Butler,

Book cover of Abbott in Darkness

What is my book about?

Abbott in Darkness is Lost in Space as a corporate crime story. John Abbott and his young family are forty light-years from earth starting his dream job working as an accountant for the famous Sarovar Company. Company employees are allowed to trade for their own accounts and make their fortunes. This is good, because John and his family are in debt and need the money. On the other hand, the resulting temptations sometimes lead Company traders astray.

John is assigned to investigate embezzling on Sarovar Alpha, but quickly discovers that behind the thefts lie smuggling, gun-running, and murder… and now the criminals have him in their sights. With no way back to Earth and nowhere else to go, John Abbott is all in.

Book cover of Murder at the Mushaira

Set in Delhi on the eve of the first battle for Indian independence in 1857 that would be so brutally put down by the British, ending with Delhi in flames and India coming under direct British rule, our detective, the poet laureate Mirza Ghalib investigates a murder. The investigation reveals the myriad of personalities, pressures, and allegiances from every corner of Indian and British society that led to the uprising and all that has come after. This finely wrought novel begins and ends with death at a Mushaira—a poetry recitation, public, private, or intimate for just two, that typically drew from every level of society—sounding the loss of India as it was before colonization, and then partition, when religious and social boundaries were not as starkly defined and policed as they are now.

Murder at the Mushaira

By Raza Mir,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Murder at the Mushaira as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

3 May 1857. India stands on the brink of war. Everywhere in its cities, towns, and villages, rebels and revolutionaries are massing to overthrow the ruthless and corrupt British East India Company which has taken over the country and laid it to waste. In Delhi, the capital, even as the plot to get rid of the hated foreigners gathers intensity, the busy social life of the city hums along. Nautch girls entertain clients, nawabs host mushairas or poetry soirees in which the finest poets of the realm congregate to recite their latest verse and intrigue, the wealthy roister in magnificent…


Who am I?

I'm a retired historian of early Islam and writer of historical fiction set in medieval Iraq, Turkic, and Persian lands. I write and love to read novels that “do history.” In other words, historical fiction that unravels the tangles of history through the lives of its characters, especially when told from the perspectives of those upon whom elite power is wielded. My selections are written by authors who speak from an informed position, either as academic or lay historians, those with a stake in that history, or, like me, both, and include major press, small press, and self-published works and represent the histories of West Africa, Europe, Central and West Asia, and South Asia.


I wrote...

The Unseen: The Sufi Mysteries Quartet Book Three

By Laury Silvers,

Book cover of The Unseen: The Sufi Mysteries Quartet Book Three

What is my book about?

It is 908 CE, the waning days of the Sunni Abbasid caliphate. A body is discovered in Baghdad shot in the exact manner of Shia martyr slain some two hundred years earlier. Many suspect the murder signals a coming attack on the Shia community. The city is on edge as political, religious, and personal factions are exposed, sending the caliph’s army into the streets. Ammar and Tein, detectives with Baghdad’s Grave Crimes Section, and Tein’s sister Zaytuna, have to clear the case one way or another before violence erupts. The investigation offers no easy resolution as the three seek out the killer among those vying to gain power over the meaning of the past for the future, not just caliphal authorities and scholars, but also old women, children, and wayward sons.

We That Are Young

By Preti Taneja,

Book cover of We That Are Young

There is no better book for understanding India’s family businesses in a broader social and political context than this sprawling, powerful novel. Preti Taneja retells and reworks Shakespeare’s King Lear as three sisters (and an illegitimate son) fight over the inheritance of a massive company that makes everything from textiles to cars (echoes of the Tatas, Birlas, and Ambanis, but also of the East India Company as the subcontinent’s original corporate sovereign). Taneja touches on all the big issues, including gender, caste, climate, and Kashmir, without ever being preachy. It is a long and sometimes challenging read, but always rewarding. I may be biased given the subject matter, but this is the century’s Great Indian Novel—a worthy successor to the likes of Midnight’s Children, A Suitable Boy, and Sacred Games

We That Are Young

By Preti Taneja,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked We That Are Young as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

When a billionaire hotelier and political operator attempts to pit his three daughters against one another, a brutal struggle for primacy begins in this modern-day take on Shakespeare’s King Lear. Set in contemporary India, where rich men are gods while farmers starve and water is fast running out, We That Are Young is a story about power, status, and the love of a megalomaniac father. A searing exploration of human fallibility, Preti Taneja’s remarkable novel reveals the fragility of the human heart—and its inevitable breaking point.


Who am I?

I'm a historian of global capitalism and South Asia, writing about corporations as they are and how they could be. I've looked at India with the eyes of an outsider, drawing on my experiences growing up in 1990s Eastern Europe during a time of political upheaval and shock privatizations as the old communist order crumbled. Having witnessed the rise of a new class of monopolists and oligarchs in its stead, I became interested in the many different ways capitalists exercise power in society over time and around the world, and how we as ordinary citizens relate to them. I'm now interested in thinkers, activists, and entrepreneurs who have tried to experiment with alternatives


I wrote...

Tata: The Global Corporation That Built Indian Capitalism

By Mircea Raianu,

Book cover of Tata: The Global Corporation That Built Indian Capitalism

What is my book about?

Imagine a single corporation that makes everything from the salt on your table to the car you drive to the software on your computer. Now imagine it has been around for over a century and a half, playing a major role in world historical events from the rise and fall of colonialism to the world wars and the emergence of neoliberal globalization. My book is the first full-length academic study of Tata, a large, diversified corporate group in India that fits this description, based on original archival research. Tata spun textiles, forged steel, built dams, pioneered air travel, and channeled expert knowledge in engineering, medicine, and atomic science. It survived challenges from workers fighting for their rights and politicians trying to curb its power.  

The Real Taiwan and the Dutch

By Menno Goedhart, Cheryl Robbins,

Book cover of The Real Taiwan and the Dutch: Traveling Notes from the Netherlands Representative

An enjoyable read and a practical guide for those looking to explore Taiwan’s aboriginal cultures and the vestiges of Dutch rule on Taiwan in the seventeenth century. It’s a beautifully illustrated book containing hundreds of photographs and useful travel information. The focus is on getting off the beaten path, and the book details fascinating places not covered by other guidebooks, which is a testament to the two authors’ expert knowledge.

The Real Taiwan and the Dutch

By Menno Goedhart, Cheryl Robbins,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Real Taiwan and the Dutch as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Menno Goedhart was the Representative of The Netherlands for eight years. He traveled, together with tour guide Cheryl Robbins, to parts of Taiwan that most tourists do not see and met and befriended many indigenous people. This book contains a selection of fascinating places, with explanations on how to get there, where to stay, and what to eat. In the 17th century, Taiwan was occupied by Dutch East India Company forces. From their base in the southern city of Tainan, they explored the island, leaving behind many stories, some of which are also included in this book.


Who am I?

I’m a Kiwi who has spent most of the past three decades in Asia. My books include Formosan Odyssey, You Don't Know China, and Taiwan in 100 Books. I live in a small town in southern Taiwan with my Taiwanese wife. When not writing, reading, or lusting over maps, I can be found on the abandoned family farm slashing jungle undergrowth (and having a sly drink). 


I wrote...

Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

By John Grant Ross,

Book cover of Formosan Odyssey: Taiwan, Past and Present

What is my book about?

This mix of travelogue, history, and vignettes of small-town life is the kind of book I like to read myself: history and culture woven into travel narratives, and with a healthy sprinkling of eccentric characters. I think readers will be surprised to learn that Taiwan was – until the early twentieth century – one of the wildest places in Asia, as shown in the tales recounted of fatal shipwrecks, headhunting tribes, banditry, and revolts. From those early frontier days, Formosan Odyssey takes us through the period of Japanese colonial rule, and the post-war transition from an impoverished police state to a prosperous democracy.

Tea

By John Griffiths,

Book cover of Tea: A History of the Drink That Changed the World

John Griffiths has a talent for bringing history to life so that we are carried along by his storytelling and fluid narrative. We imagine ourselves right there with the characters he describes – the British East India Company and their opium trade with China; the spies and adventurers who brought tales of tea to the west; the merchants who encouraged the trade; and the botanists, politicians, government officials and pioneers planters who risked so much to establish the tea industry in India. Griffiths immerses us is every aspect of the business from its 16th-century beginnings to the famous companies of the 20th century, and along the way, dips into all that lies behind the story of success. Enlightening and fascinating!

Tea

By John Griffiths,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tea as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Tea is a phenomenon that has changed the attitudes of one nation to another, exposed divisions of class and race, ossified social behaviour, shaped the ethics of business, influenced relations between management and labour and led to significant advances in medicine. "Tea" is a comprehensive study of a drink that is imbibed daily by over half the population of the world, looking at the phenomenon as well as the commodity - from 2,500 AD to the present day. Following on from the success of books such as Cod, Tobacco and Salt, "Tea" takes a well-researched and fascinating approach to the…


Who am I?

I fell into the world of tea by chance in the 1980s when I gave up a career in higher education to open a 1930s style tearoom in southwest London. I grew up in the 1950s in a typical British family that drank tea throughout the day but little did I know, as I baked endless supplies of scones and cakes for the tearoom at 4 am every day, that I would end up writing books and magazine articles, editing a tea magazine for the UK Tea Council, speaking at world tea conferences, training staff in hotels, travelling to almost every major tea producing country, and eventually working today as Director of Studies at the UK Tea Academy.


I wrote...

Jane Pettigrew's World of Tea: Discovering Producing Regions and Their Teas

By Jane Pettigrew,

Book cover of Jane Pettigrew's World of Tea: Discovering Producing Regions and Their Teas

What is my book about?

Teas are produced today in more than 65 countries, including the UK, Europe, Oceania, and North America, as well as better known regions such as India, China, Japan, Sri Lanka and East Africa. However, few people ever get to taste the high quality teas from any of those countries but stick instead to cheaper poorer quality teabag blends.

My book explores every single one of the world’s tea producing regions, giving details of each country’s tea history, the area planted with tea, the terrain, altitudes, producing seasons, tea types, and flavour profiles. With colourful maps highlighting the important tea areas, and beautiful colour photographs of the places, people, and tea rituals of the world, the book takes the reader on a fascinating journey and opens their eyes to the magic of tea and opportunities for amazing taste experiences for anyone who dares to try something different.

The Siege of Krishnapur

By J.G. Farrell,

Book cover of The Siege of Krishnapur

During my student days in the early 1970s, I travelled throughout North India by train and country bus, often staying in the countryside in former colonial rest houses from days of British rule in India. I tried to imagine what it was like for the British East India Company officials before 1857, and then for the British colonial officials who replaced the company officers after the Indian Sepoy Mutiny. The Siege of Krishnapur vividly recreates the 1857 mutiny from the perspective of British company officials and their families trapped by the local soldiers they had employed. 

Farrell used a diary and letters from those besieged in the real city of Lucknow to illustrate the horrors of hunger, impending rape, torture, and eventual death that many of the British faced. The scenes are graphic, and the portrayals of the relationships among those trapped have stayed with me for years. The novel…

The Siege of Krishnapur

By J.G. Farrell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Siege of Krishnapur as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In the Spring of 1857, with India on the brink of a violent and bloody mutiny, Krishnapur is a remote town on the vast North Indian plain. For the British there, life is orderly and genteel. Then the sepoys at the nearest military cantonment rise in revolt and the British community retreats with shock into the Residency. They prepare to fight for their lives with what weapons they can muster. As food and ammunition grow short, the Residency, its defences battered by shot and shell and eroded by the rains, becomes ever more vulnerable.

The Siege of Krishnapur is a…


Who am I?

From my days as a student in India in the early 1970s through my years in the U.S. Foreign Service with postings in Pakistan, Bangladesh, and Kenya, as well as assignments to the India, Kenya, and Uganda desks at the Department of State, I learned something of the cultures of South Asia and East Africa and gained an appreciation for the peoples of those countries. During the early months of the Covid-19 pandemic, I had the time to write. I developed a novel that was part autobiography and part fiction, and most of which was set in South Asia and East Africa. The result is Danger and Romance in Foreign Lands.


I wrote...

Danger and Romance in Foreign Lands

By Stephen E. Eisenbraun,

Book cover of Danger and Romance in Foreign Lands

What is my book about?

To see the world, to report political intrigue abroad—these are the ambitions of Scott Higgins, a young American foreign correspondent in South Asia who encounters dramatic and dangerous events there in the 1970s. It is in India that he also makes an unexpected romantic connection with Rakhi, a smart, savvy, and sultry woman employed by a British multinational bank. Scott and Rakhi elope to Nairobi, where Scott takes up his second reporting assignment, and Rakhi continues with her bank in its Kenyan branch. Even as newlyweds, however, their lives are threatened by unseen but dangerous political actors who resent their presence in the country. They flee Nairobi to London, where trouble of a more personal kind still awaits them.

Koh-I-Noor

By William Dalrymple, Anita Anand,

Book cover of Koh-I-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond

Part of the value of diamonds comes from how avidly people steal them. The cat-burglar on the French Riviera. The miner swallowing a stone and trying to make it past the x-ray at the gate. Or the conquerors, snatching jewels from one turban after another as they ride through history. That last is the story of the Koh-i-Noor (Mountain of Light), told with his usual panache by William Dalrymple, the celebrated historian of Mughal India, in this non-fiction account. It falls to Dalrymple’s co-author, journalist Anita Anand, to track the jewel though it's last, decidedly inglorious change of ownership—stolen by the British from the Maharaja Duleep Singh, when imperial forces prevailed upon him not only to sign away the Punjab, but also to make a “gift” of his family’s famous diamond to Queen Victoria. Sure, the Maharaja did in fact sign the document. But he was 10 years old.

Koh-I-Noor

By William Dalrymple, Anita Anand,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Koh-I-Noor as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Codewords have been one of The Daily Telegraph's most successful puzzles since their introduction to the paper in summer 2003, and here we are proud to present another in the popular series of Codewords books. The principle is simple: the unsolved grid shows squares containing numbers, each of which corresponds to a letter of the alphabet. Between two and five solved letters are given, and the remainder must be discovered through a combination of logic and word power. This collection contains 150 brand new puzzles. Can you crack the code?


Who am I?

I live in New York City, where I write thrillers about diamonds. My interest began when news broke of a diamond discovery in the Canadian Arctic. A reporter looking for a story, I climbed on a plane the next day. The discovery made Canada the world’s third largest diamond miner—one of the stories told in my non-fiction book, Diamond: the History of a Cold-Blooded Love Affair. I went on to write about diamonds for many publications, including Vanity Fair and the London Times, until finally, seduced by the glitter of the possibilities, I turned to fiction. The Russian Pink appeared in November 2020. The next in the series, Ice Angel, comes out in September.


I wrote...

The Russian Pink

By Matthew Hart,

Book cover of The Russian Pink

What is my book about?

The Russian Pink sends Treasury agent Alex Turner and his lover, the Russian femme fatale and diamond thief known as Slav Lily, on a chase from the old diamond city of Antwerp to the dangerous beaches of the South African diamond coast as they rush to discover the truth behind a fabulous pink diamond. Racing against time, they must unravel the secret scheme of Harry Nash, an unscrupulous, dashing titan, and Matilda Bolt, a powerful U.S. Senator—an intrigue that entangles the dark forces of government and a transnational business empire with the megawatt allure of the stunning jewel. It’s a scorpion of a plot with a stinger in the tail!

King of All Balloons

By Mark Davies,

Book cover of King of All Balloons: The Adventurous Life of James Sadler, the First English Aeronaut

James Sadler was the first Englishman to fly. He was a brilliant man – his balloon design is the one we still use – but because he was an Oxford pastry cook he was ignored by the university. I am interested in lost and forgotten history and this is a story that needed to be told.

King of All Balloons

By Mark Davies,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked King of All Balloons as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The daring flights of the early balloonists that were the first steps on mankind's upward journey to the Moon and beyond have been strangely neglected, and their names have been largely forgotten.

This book helps to redress that situation. James Sadler was an extraordinary English pioneer who overcame many obstacles to achieve his dream of flying. Born the son of an Oxford pastry cook in 1753, he defied his lowly upbringing to become the first Englishman to build an air balloon. When not flying he applied himself to engine design and the medical uses of gases, and kept busy as…


Who am I?

I was a freelance writer for The Oxford Times for 20 years when it was well respected. For ten of those years, I wrote the Oxford Castaway series in which I cast away inspirational people from 5 continents whose lives have been affected by their time in the city. Even Lord Chris Pattern of Barnes – the Chancellor of Oxford University and former Governor of Hong Kong let me cast him away on Oxtopia! Oxford is still divided between Town and Gown but I stride the two and my husband was an academic at that other Oxford University: Oxford Brookes.


I wrote...

Sculpting the Elephant

By Sylvia Vetta,

Book cover of Sculpting the Elephant

What is my book about?

Sculpting the Elephant is half set in Oxford but mostly in the not-so-well-known, ex-working-class district called Jericho. Opposite the Jericho Tavern where Radiohead started, artist Harry King sets up a business called Deco-rators. Chance encounters can change lives and Harry was catapulted into another world when he encountered Indian historian Ramma Gupta. My story not only crosses TOWN and GOWN but also continents, class, colour, culture, and time. I am interested in lost or forgotten histories so the historical subplot concerns the Great Trigonometrical Survey of India and Ashoka who in effect created the religion we know as Buddhism.

Kaempfer's Japan

By Englebert Kaempfer, Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey (translator),

Book cover of Kaempfer's Japan: Tokugawa Culture Observed

This book first excited my interest in the Tokugawa period and directly led to my first two academic books on the subject. Kaempfer’s History of Japan was a best-seller from the date of its publication in London in 1727. The author was a German doctor in the employ of the Dutch East India Company, who were the only Europeans the Tokugawa rulers would allow into Japan until 1853. He was able to make two trips to the capital of Edo, likely the largest city in the world at the time, and thus was able to observe Tokugawa society broadly.

He recorded important events (such as meeting the shogun) as well as the mundane minutiae of life. It is, hands down, the best informed and liveliest foreign account of Tokugawa Japan before the mid-19th century. Bodart-Bailey translated the text from the original German, annotated it, and wrote a very helpful…

Kaempfer's Japan

By Englebert Kaempfer, Beatrice M. Bodart-Bailey (translator),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Kaempfer's Japan as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Engelbert Kaempfer's work was a best-seller from the moment it was published in London in 1727 and remains one of the most valuable sources for historians of the Tokugawa period. The narrative describes what no Japanese was permitted to record (the details of the shogun's castle, for example) and what no Japanese thought worthy of recording (the minutiae of everyday life). However, all previous translations of the history oar flawed, being based on the work of an 18th century Swiss translator or that of the German editor some fifty years later who had little knowledge of Japan and resented Kaempfer's…


Who am I?

I’ve spent all of my career teaching and writing about Japan. Within that country’s long history, the Tokugawa or early modern period (1600-1868) has always fascinated me, going back to my teenage years when I went to Japanese film festivals in Boston with my father and brothers. This fascination stems in part from the period’s vibrancy, color, drama, and the wealth of historical documentation about it that has survived warfare as well as the ravages of time. From these rich sources of knowledge, historians and other scholars have been able to weave rich narratives of Japan’s early modern past.


I wrote...

Samurai: An Encyclopedia of Japan's Cultured Warriors

By Constantine Nomikos Vaporis,

Book cover of Samurai: An Encyclopedia of Japan's Cultured Warriors

What is my book about?

The samurai were an estate of warriors who imposed and maintained peace in Japan for more than two centuries during the Tokugawa period, 1603-1868. While they maintained a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence, as a result of the peace the samurai themselves were transformed over time into an educated, cultured elite--one that remained fiercely proud of its military legacy and hyper-sensitive in defending their individual honor.


This book provides detailed information about the samurai, beginning with a timeline and narrative historical overview of the samurai, followed by 100+ alphabetically arranged entries on topics related to the samurai, such as ritual suicide, castles, weapons, housing, clothing, samurai women. The entries cite works for further reading and often include sidebars linking the samurai to popular culture, tourist sites, and other information.

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