Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company” as Want to Read:
The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  10,074 ratings  ·  1,051 reviews
'Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of IndiaA book of beauty' – Gerard DeGroot, The Times

In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish in his richest provinces a new administration run by English merchants who collected taxes through means of a ruthless private army – what we would now
...more
Kindle Edition, 576 pages
Published September 10th 2019 by Bloomsbury Publishing
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Anarchy, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
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)
John Stanton Actually, the edition I have is The Anarchy: the relentless rise of the East India Company. Publishers often issue the same book with different titles…moreActually, the edition I have is The Anarchy: the relentless rise of the East India Company. Publishers often issue the same book with different titles for different markets.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  10,074 ratings  ·  1,051 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Start your review of The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company
Petra has deer,groundhogs & squirrels in the yard
"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
...more
Murtaza
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
...more
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. ...more
Ian
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
...more
Nidhi P
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. ...more
David Wineberg
Jun 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
·Karen·
Outstanding.

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
...more
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
...more
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!
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.
W
Dec 07, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: war, history
The foundations of the British Raj in the subcontinent were not laid by the British government,but by a trading corporation which essentially wanted to enrich its investors.

In less than fifty years,the East India Company had snatched control of nearly the whole of Mughal India.The company had recruited a private army of its own and with superior weapons and tactics,had defeated all its opponents in India.In the process,it had also thwarted the ambitions of the French to rule India.

A key player i
...more
Dmitri
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
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! ...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. ...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!
Som Sahay
May 05, 2020 rated it did not like it
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
...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
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...
Mike
Mar 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
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
...more
Sandith
Aug 22, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Pathetic writing. Overrated author!
Rahul Sharma
Sep 16, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
A waste of my time... I did not the enjoy the book beyond its cover but I had to actually read it just to witness how bad it was!
Marks54
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
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
...more
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.
Charles Alasdair
Nov 26, 2019 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Lurid nonsense from the first page designed to stoke outrage to gain sales.

I can swallow hard and see thru the nonsense allegations, but I despise false history.

His first quote is false. "What honour is left to us?' asked a Mughal official, 'when we have to take orders from a handful of traders who have not yet learned to wash their bottoms?'

This is implied to be the response of someone after the British had taken power.

Fake.

'Bengal nawabs' translated by Jadunath Sarkar describes how Nawab S
...more
Rahul Anand
Sep 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
Bogus claims and too many assumptions rather than history. We cannot be sure of this book!
Amarkant Shiva
Sep 23, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: propaganda
The author hasn't been able to justify the purpose of his book. He has simply played some intellectual snooker. ...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
...more
Nigeyb
Mar 09, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Anarchy: The East India Company, Corporate Violence, and the Pillage of an Empire (2019) by William Dalrymple relates the rise of the East India Company in the second half of the 18th century against the backdrop of a crumbling Mughal empire and the rise of regional powers.

Some of the old patriotic myths are debunked, for example Robert Clive (aka “Clive of India”) is revealed as a violent juvenile delinquent from Shropshire who arrived in Madras in 1744 as an 18 year old clerk. Through bei
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »

Readers also enjoyed

  • A Castle of Doomsday
  • The History of the Medieval World: From the Conversion of Constantine to the First Crusade
  • Notre-Dame: A Short History of the Meaning of Cathedrals
  • Killing England: The Brutal Struggle for American Independence
  • Napoleon: A Life
  • The Strange Death of Europe: Immigration, Identity, Islam
  • Thunderstruck
  • Genghis Khan and the Making of the Modern World
  • The Five: The Untold Lives of the Women Killed by Jack the Ripper
  • Unparalleled
  • The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz
  • Eon (The Way, #1)
  • Edge of Darkness (Edge of Collapse #3)
  • Alone (The Girl in the Box, #1)
  • The Enigma Cube (Alien Artifact #1)
  • Terms of Enlistment (Frontlines #1)
  • Good Morning, Midnight
  • Elsewhere
See similar books…
War
See top shelves…
2,238 followers
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
...more

News & Interviews

Let's face it: Being cooped up inside during the pandemic has left a lot of us searching for a sense of connection with one another. Memoirs...
25 likes · 5 comments
“Ultimately it was the East India Company, not the Marathas or the Sultans of Mysore, that the financiers across India decided to back.” 2 likes
“Corporations have neither bodies to be punished, nor souls to be condemned, they therefore do as they like. Edward, First Baron Thurlow” 2 likes
More quotes…