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The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  6,236 ratings  ·  744 reviews
The story of how the East India Company took over large swaths of Asia, and the devastating results of the corporation running a country.

In August 1765, the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and set up, in his place, a government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a private army.

The creation of this new government marked the mome
Hardcover, 576 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
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Shihab Shahriar Khan As one of the top reviews suggest, this book is apparently biased towards Muslim rulers. I have read the book, the author mercilessly criticises many …moreAs one of the top reviews suggest, this book is apparently biased towards Muslim rulers. I have read the book, the author mercilessly criticises many Muslim rulers, including siraj-ud-doulah, tipu sultan etc.

I think this book doesn't conform to the new fashionable trend of viewing indian history as nothing more than a continuous struggle between Hindus & Muslims, as some rising Indian political party is suggesting. In the eyes of their supporters, any book that doesn't describe all Muslims as savage barbarians is basically biased towards Muslims.(less)
Roy Taylor No, its an expression of what makes the British special.
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Start your review of The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company
"Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like." - British Lord Chancellor, Edward, First Baron Thurlow (1731-1806) You can't fine them either. Any financial penalty will just mean less taxes that they have to pay, and less bonuses to the shareholders. The CEO and executives will just happily carry on and award themselves even bigger salaries as and when they please.

How the British added India to their Empire started with the world's f
Oct 06, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The question of how a relatively small group of Englishmen was able to subjugate the entire sprawling nation of India is a source of lasting disquiet. Like all of William Dalrymple's books, this history of the East India Company inspires both awe and melancholy. The EIC arrived in India at a moment in which the power of the Mughal Empire had already been shattered. Aurangzeb had mismanaged his realms, and Maratha and Afghan forces were rising on its peripheries. The death blow to Mughal power ho ...more
Ashish Iyer
Okay guys here is my longest review. To be honest I am not a fan of long reviews. Even if I come across any long reviews of my friends, I mostly ignore or just read 2 paragraphs. (I have huge respect for friends; it’s just me who is lazy enough to not read those long reviews). I am writing this review to justify why I am giving 2 stars to this book considering it has got 4.23/5 stars (199 ratings).

I had always been curious how the British had conquered India, with so few troops. The East India
Aug 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
This book was another of my 2019 Christmas presents. Although I’ve read a fair bit on the history of Europe, and to a certain extent the Americas, I’ve previously read very little of the history of Asia.

Although the book covers the early history of the EIC, it really concentrates on India from about the 1740s to 1803, when the Company took control of Delhi and of the Mughal Emperor, although by this time the Emperor was already a puppet of the Marathas. The author says that Indian sources descri
Amit Mishra
Sep 02, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
Though you can not hide the truth, you can certainly give it your best try and this is what this author posing as a historian has done. He has whitewashed the crimes, atrocities, 'Anarchy' done by the Muslim rulers and the British businessmen. The rest that you read is the attempt that I referred to in my first line.
David Wineberg
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The story of the East India Company, nominally of London, is a huge, sprawling, fascinating and gripping collection of great stories. The stories are of wars, battles, heroes, cowards, lovers, fools, incompetents, rape, plunder, torture and death. Lots of death. William Dalrymple has linked the stories into the history of the Company, that unregulated, arrogant and racist firm that took over the Indian subcontinent, piece by piece from the early 1700s, and held it and milked it until 1859 (when ...more
Nidhi Parikh
Sep 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
The title is an act of deception. You should not be bemused to read this book as a book of history. The author has no cultural sense of Indian history and he has just rambled his way through dates, years and centuries with his 'facts' rather than the 'history' he should have cared about.

William Dalrymple has the most felicitous ability to turn extensive research into a riveting narrative. And unlike a historian such as, say, James Mill, who wrote his History of British India (1818) - a standard work for generations of British students - without ever once setting foot in India, Dalrymple is scrupulous in using a variety of sources, not just the Company's own archives in the National Archive of India, but also contemporary Mughal historians such as Ghulam Hussain Khan
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: india
William Dalrymple tells how a single business operation replaced the Mughal empire to rule the Indian subcontinent. The East India Company was a first major multi-national corporation, and an early example of a joint stock enterprise. Most events occur between 1756-1803, around the time of the American and French revolutions. The story begins in 1599 with the charter of the Company, during the reign of Queen Elizabeth I and the lifetime of Shakespeare.

The Company was preceded by Walter Raleigh a
Radhika Sharma
Aug 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
Once you read the book, and if you are too naive, you will have a perception:

The British robbed India which was lovingly ruled by the caring Muslims who did not rape Hindus, loot Hindus and their temples, destroyed the wonderful culture and Sanatan Dharma and islamise an entire section of Hindus into Muslims of the day.

The author also suggests that Hindus helped (B)East India Company. The author subtly hints that Britishers were not involved in committing any atrocities or cultural damage towa
Avdhesh Anand
Sep 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
Waste of time as the book does not present anything in details about the so-titled East India Company but rather goes on glorifying the barber Mughals.
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In less than fifty years, a multinational corporation had seized control of almost all of what had once been Mughal India. It had also, by this stage, created a sophisticated administration and civil service, built much of London’s docklands and come close to generating half of Britain’s trade. Its annual spending within Britain alone – around £8.5 million – equalled about a quarter of total British government annual expenditure. No wonder the Company now referred to itself as ‘the grandest s
Rupesh Kashyap
Aug 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
A waste of time and mughal-all-good book!
Dec 04, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a history of the conquest of much of India by the British East India Company. It focuses on the period between the Battle of Plassey in 1757, which established control over Bengal, until the Battle of Delhi in 1803, which gave the company effective control of much of India directly and much more through alliances and protection agreements of the various remaining kingdoms and principalities. It was this period that laid the basis for the British Raj in India, which lasted until independe ...more
Amitava Das
Sep 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is another scholarly work of India’s colonial history , written with as much panache , passion and verve as I have come to expect from the finest living historian of colonial India , focusing on the anarchic period in Hindusthan triggering after the death of the last Mughal super power Aurangzeb in 1707 (an emperor who collected ten times more revenue than his contemporary King of France Louis XIV and contributed to a quarter of global GDP during his reign ) continuing till 1804 when the Ea ...more
Porter Broyles
I had not heard of this book until Former President Obama included it on his best books of 2019, but the subject of the East India Company was something that was of interest to me. These two factors made me want to read this.

The EIC was a major factor in how Great Britian spread its power and influence not only in India, but Japan, China, the Carribean, and even the American Colonies! When the Sons of Liberty dumped the tea into the Boston Harbor, they were protesting a tax, but the ships were p
Ravi Upadhyay
Sep 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda, avoidable
This author is out of his mind when he writes Indian history from an outsider's point of view. Just like an outsider cannot comment with authority about the country of author's origin, I am truly amazed to know how can Dalrymple assert his views, without any authentic proofs, with so confident sham!
Paul Ark
Dec 27, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Less a history of the East India Company, and more a history of India military history during the time of EIC’s presence in India. Overwrought with pointless detail and irrelevant quotes & passages from historical letters and text, this book is a dry narrative of the history of various warlords in India during the 18th century, with the rise and fall of the EIC as context. Very short on analysis, and the implications of corporate imperialism. Great premise, but poor result and wasted potential. ...more
Harsh Tiwari
Sep 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
The author seems to have no clue of Indian history. The book falls flat on that ground and it cannot justify the title as well. It's never about the atrocities of the East India Company; it's about how the author thinks things unfolded rather than how they actually happened.
Nov 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful look at the birth of the East India Company and the accompanying decay and destruction of the Mogul Empire in India. Dalrymple successfully balances a huge cast of key players in this narrative, and I appreciated his focus on the politics and disputes that arose during the power struggle that was the 'Great Anarchy' of 18th and early 19th century India. Clive, Hastings, Cornwallis and Wellesley are all interesting studies, but I found the significant figures of the Moghuls and Marath ...more
Oleksandr Zholud
This is a non-fic historical book about the rise of the East India Company (EIC). I read is as a part of monthly reading for March 2020 at Non Fiction Book Club group.

The title is misleading. While there is a lot of anarchy going on, but it is not so much the doing of the Company, but internal struggles on the sub-continent used by British. Even despite the author is critical of the Company (and rightfully so, from pillaging to corruption, it wasn’t a gathering of saints), if one looks on the p
Apr 16, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Very good overview on the British East India company and its exploitation of India (and also exploitation of the British political scene). The amount of power this multinational amassed is almost incomprehensible, but similarly problematic to some of the dynamics seen today: private corporations that become so powerful they end up subverting domestic politics via lobbying and basically "buying" politicians. And of course int'l the human costs in the lands they exploited as they chased power was ...more
Gudiya Rani
Sep 09, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
This was almost unreadable beyond the first few pages... the author lacks a complete sense of Indian history. It was like a French person spent whole life in France trying to attempt a book on history of Mithilanchal... absurd!
Kundan Sharma
Sep 06, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
Sheer waste of time reading this book... I could not find any meaningful thing as touted by my friends who love this historian or so called so...
Paul Dembina
I was under the impression this book was a history of the East India Company, but it's not really that. More a history of the rise of the Company against a backdrop of the shifting loyalties and machinations of the various Indian groups already present there and which the Company exploited for their own ends
Som Sahay
May 05, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Bad history writing couched in superfluous embellishments.

Note: This is a critique on the historical accuracy and efficacy of a work that has been categorized as 'Non-Fiction'. I will not be critiquing the literary aspects here. There are some early spoilers in this review, but as it is Non-Fiction and history, that is to be expected.

I'm very disappointed in this book. I had been expecting a lot since this is a very thoroughly studied period yet finds hardly any detailed mention in the mainstrea
Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship
3.5 stars

This is a very informative history of how the British East India Company colonized India. It begins with the formation of the company in 1599, but the crucial time period on which most of the book is spent is from about 1750 to 1803, when the British took advantage of the implosion of the Mughal Empire to take over first Bengal, then other Mughal territories, and finally other Indian kingdoms entirely, through a combination of war, financial maneuvers and diplomacy. In some ways the fac
Robert Sheard
A long and fairly tedious catalog of battle after battle, court intrigue after court intrigue, and financial exchanges. I could have done with 75% less detail and quite a bit more cultural context.

Obviously the EIC raped India as England expanded its empire, but this book did nothing to bring that history to life. If you're a history teacher, please don't ever assign this to your students. They won't read it, and they'd be right to skip it.
So who were the East India Company? In this short video DalrympleWill introduces his new book TheAnarchy The Relentless Rise of the East India Company, out now.

Description: William Dalrymple's new book tells the story of how the East India Company transformed itself from a small trading company into a powerful colonial force that used its financial prowess and military might to subdue India. What emerges is a cautionary tale about global corporate power.

Aug 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pathetic writing. Overrated author!
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William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. The book won the 1990 Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award; it was also shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize.

In 1989 Dalrymple moved to Delhi where he lived for six years

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