Interesting revisionist take on the history of the British in India, centring on one of the earliest corporations, the Honourable East India Company.
IInteresting revisionist take on the history of the British in India, centring on one of the earliest corporations, the Honourable East India Company.
I read this primarily as a quick overview of the history of the Company, needing a primer for some more detailed research on family members who served in the Company's hybrid private/public military force, the Bengal Army.
Robins has something of an agenda - his thesis is that the EIC is the template for the modern amoral corporation, and that a failure to remember the lessons of its history led inevitably to the 21st century corporate malfeasances of Enron and others. More deeply, he suggests that large corporations are inherently corrupting of markets, of their own executives, and ultimately of themselves. That they are, essentially, not a useful construct.
In passing he also makes a case that British imperialism in India was almost an afterthought - an artifact of the British state trying clumsily to deal with the aftermath of the EIC imploding. An interesting idea, rather at odds with the traditional historical model of the British Empire, but not without merit.
Well written, with a reasonably straight narrative of the main historical points, embellished with the theses noted above....more