- Paperback: 576 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC (10 September 2019)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 140886438X
- ISBN-13: 978-1408864388
- Product Dimensions: 23.3 x 4.8 x 15.3 cm
- Customer Reviews: 125 customer reviews
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The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company Paperback – 10 Sep 2019
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Gloriously opulent ... India is a sumptuous place. Telling its story properly demands lush language, not to mention sensitivity towards the country's passionate complexity. Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India ... A book of beauty -- Gerard DeGroot * The Times * An energetic pageturner that marches from the counting house on to the battlefield, exploding patriotic myths along the way ... Dalrymple's spirited, detailed telling will be reason enough for many readers to devour The Anarchy. But his more novel and arguably greater achievement lies in the way he places the company's rise in the turbulent political landscape of late Mughal India -- Maya Jasanoff * Guardian * A tour de force ***** -- Anne de Courcy * Telegraph * Dalrymple has been at the forefront of the new wave of popular history, consistently producing work that engages with a wider audience through writerly craft, an emphasis on characters and their agency, evocative description of place and time, and the inclusion of long-neglected perspectives ... The book's real achievement is to take readers to an important and neglected period of British and south Asian history, and to make their trip their not just informative but colourful -- Jason Burke * Observer * Magnificent ... Dalrymple is an accomplished historian with a gift for imposing narrative clarity on a complex story. He combines a profound understanding of the background against which the Company's story played out with an impressive capacity to weave a range of historical voices into this history ... The Anarchy explodes myths that have accreted around the history of the Company like barnacles on the hulls of its ships -- John McAleer * Evening Standard * It is well-trodden territory but Dalrymple ... brings to it erudition, deep insight and an entertaining style * Financial Times * Combining extensive research, judicious analysis and an acceptable level of outrage, Dalrymple's compelling account will cement his status as the most widely read British writer on India since Kipling ... A brave and stirring narrative of India's eighteenth-century fragmentation -- John Keay * Literary Review * One of the best books on Indian history published in a long time -- Tirthankar Roy * Times Literary Supplement * [A] rampaging, brilliant, passionate history ... Dalrymple gives us every sword-slash, every scam, every groan and battle cry. He has no rival as a narrative historian of the British in India ... A gripping tale of bloodshed and deceit, of unimaginable opulence and intolerable starvation ... shot through with an unappeasable moral passion * Wall Street Journal * 'Masterful ... Dalrymple has been for some years one of the most eloquent and assiduous chroniclers of Indian history. With this new work, he sounds a minatory note ... Dalrymple has done a great service in not just writing an eminently readable history of eighteenth-century India, but in reflecting on how so much of it serves as a warning for our own time' -- Stuart Kelly * Scotland on Sunday * A magnificently readable book, deeply researched and richly atmospheric, written with a historian's understanding of power and a novelistic eye for detail ***** -- Francis Wheen * Mail on Sunday * A rip-roaring tale of wild adventure, amorality, feckless greed and despicable behaviour ... His best history to date -- Louise Nicholson * Country Life * [Dalrymple] is a terrifically good storyteller. He makes the reader see how events unfold and observe the personalities up close. He is widely read both in the primary sources and the historical scholarship. As a result, The Anarchy is one of the best books on Indian history published in a long time * Times Literary Supplement * William Dalrymple's galloping narrative vividly details how the institution changed Indian and British lives while reshaping global history -- Best Books of 2019 * Wall Street Journal * A wonderfully readable history of the East India Company -- The best history books of 2019 * Prospect * A dazzling account of multinational corporate rapacity in one of its first forms, the East India Company; yet again Dalrymple manages brilliantly to be both historian and contemporary analyst -- Robert Macfarlane, author of 'Underland: A Deep Time Journey' Extraordinarily interesting and jaw-dropping ... A winner -- India Knight * Sunday Times *
About the Author
William Dalrymple is one of Britain's great historians and the bestselling author of the Wolfson Prize-winning White Mughals, The Last Mughal, which won the Duff Cooper Prize, and the Hemingway and Kapuscinski Prize-winning Return of a King. A frequent broadcaster, he has written and presented three television series, one of which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA. He has also won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award, the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the Foreign Correspondent of the Year at the FPA Media Awards, and been awarded five honorary doctorates. He is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the Royal Asiatic Society and the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and has held visiting fellowships at Princeton and Brown. He writes regularly for the New York Review of Books, the New Yorker and the Guardian. In 2018 he was presented with the prestigious President's Medal by the British Academy for his outstanding literary achievement and for co-founding the Jaipur Literature Festival. William lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Delhi.
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But most importantly it tells us in great details how could a small group of merchants from a far away land capture the richest and most powerful empire in the world of that era.
From what I understood the reasons were too
1) Our rulers were all megalomaniac and myopic with no one capable of looking beyond their ego and uniting with others for the greater good
2) The continuous financial support by the indian business class to the East India Company in their endeavors to overthrow existing rulers. So Jagat Seth helped Clive overthrow Siraj and Gopaldas helped Welseley against Tipu. Why? For all that mattered to these individuals was greater financial returns, even if that meant accepting a foreign invasion!
300 years later what has really changed? Are our leaders truly United even on issues of National importance?
Are our business class morale enough to not sell the country for a greater return on investment?
Sorry for the long post but, I do hope friends that you read this most important book 😊
Rise of of the first Multinational Corporation:
East Indian Company(EIC) basically invented corporate lobbying, insider training and first corporate bail out, and all the other things we loathe about modern corporation. EIC developed a symbiotic relationship with the British Parliamentarians. Company men like Clive used the looted money from India to buy both MPs and parliamentary seats. The Parliament backed the Company with state power because many MPs were shareholders of EIC and any action against the company will affect their personal wealth.
Silk, Spices and Sepoy:
Thanks to the dwindling military and financial power of the Mughals, a huge military labor market sprang up all across India. Dalrymple describes this as one of the most thriving free markets of fighting men anywhere in the world- all up for sale to the highest bidder. Warfare become a business enterprise and substantial section of peasants spent part of their time year as mercenaries. EIC were better off financially and were able to pay the sepoys the promised wage on time than many local rulers. EIC were using as much as 80% Indian sepoyts in many of their battles.
The British very really lucky:
Although popular theories propose that the success of the EIC can be attributed to the fragmenting to Mughal India into tiny competing states; the military tech of the Europeans and innovation of banking, taxing and administration of the Anglo-saxons, one of the recurring themes that I found is how lucky in the may of the battles. Yes, the above theories are probably true and East India Company troop were more disciplined than their Indian rivals; but its incredible how consistently lucky the British were.
Break the Rules:
Warfare in India were actually done in gentlemanly manner. The Mughals. Marathas and other local rulers pursued negotiation, bribery and paying tribute. In case of actual conquest, there are rules by which they abide by. The Company men, especially Robert Clive, who committed suicide at the age of 49(Hope someone soon writes a biography on this truly appalling character), constantly breaking the rules like attacking at night and attacking at thunderstorm etc.
Why we need to learn to negotiate?
Mughals were completely clueless about who corporation functions or how unsavory Clive operates as an Profiteer. Ghulam Hussain Khan says a sale of jackass would have taken up more time than the time taken for the Treaty of Allahbad. Post Treaty of Allahabad, EIC used Indian tax revenue to purchase textiles and spies. Even at the time of famines EIC enforces tax collection to maintain their revenue and growing military expenditure. At the height of the famine, English merchants engaged in grain hoarding, profiteering and speculation.
North vs South India?
Even after Battle of Plassey, Cavalry was the dominant form of warfare in northern India and continued to fight each other despite the growing domination of the British. However the south was every quick to copy and learn the military innovations of the Europeans. Haider Ali had a modern infantry and his troops were more innovative and tactically ahead of EIC. They mastered the art of firing rockets long before the English. Nana Phadnavus, ‘the Maratha Machiavelli’, after the Treaty of Wadgaon, proposed a Triple Alliance between the Marathas, Haider and the Nizam of Hyderabad.
Indian Bankers love the Company:
The rise of EIC as an imperial power would not be possible with out the Indian bankers. The Indian financiers saw greater advantage in keeping the Company in power than they did supporting their own. By 1803, Indian bankers were competing with one another to back the company’s army.
In the end its the Company’s ability to mobilize money have them the edge over the Marathas and Tipu Sultan. It was no longer the superior European military technology. Bengal alone was annually yeilding a steady revenue surplus of Rs 25 million at the time when Scindia struggled to net Rs 2 million. The biggest firm of the period – the houses of Lala Kashmiri Mal, Ramchand-Gopalchand Shahu and Gopaldas-Manohardas – helped the military finance of the British. The Company duly rewarded the invaluable services in 1782 by making the house of Gopaldas the government’s banker. Richard Wellesley managed raise Rs 10 million with the support of Marwari bankers of Bengal to fight the Fourth Anglo-Mysore war.
Final nail in the coffin:
Following the victory of the Battle of Delhi, EIC defeated the last indigenous power. Now linked Bengal, Madras and Bombay while imposing itself as Regent under the Mughals.
My only complaints is that the book doesn’t drive into the financial details of the Company despite the wealth information available. A bit of financial history of the Company would have helped us understand the nature of the Company better. Overall an entertaining history book. highly recommended.