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Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled the World, 1600–1900
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Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled the World, 1600–1900

3.78  ·  Rating details ·  237 Ratings  ·  23 Reviews
Commerce meets conquest in this swashbuckling story of the six merchant-adventurers who built the modern world

It was an era when monopoly trading companies were the unofficial agents of European expansion, controlling vast numbers of people and huge tracts of land, and taking on governmental and military functions. They managed their territories as business interests, trea
Hardcover, 314 pages
Published December 7th 2010 by Thomas Dunne Books (first published 2009)
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Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
I realized recently that I hadn't even realized that the Dutch and British East India Companies were two separate entities, so I decided I needed a book to explain the whole thing to me and I settled on this one. This proved an excellent choice. "Merchant Kings" is a very readable survey of six great national monopolies, companies chartered not only to expand their nations' reach but even to rule territory and wage war in their name. The focus is specifically on the six notable and highly contro ...more
Mar 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
This a mini biography of six individuals who spearheaded the greatest merchant companies from 1600-1900.
These individuals/company are namely:
Jan Pieterzoon Coen - Dutch East India Company
Pieter Suyvesant - Dutch West India Company
Sir Robert Clive - British East India Company
Aleksandr Baranov - Russian American Company
Sir George Simpson - Hudson Bay Company
Cecil John Rhodes - British South Africa Company

What was interesting that most of these men were not gentleman, but just very ambitious, clev
Петър Стойков
Чрез историите на шестима от големите мъже, които са ги управлявали, авторът ни представя шестте най-големи търговски компании, които светът е виждал в цялата си история. Спонсорирани от правителствата монополи, тези компании са управлявали нации, водили са войни, поддържали са частни армии флоти и като цяло са били в авангарда на (а често и причината за) колониалната експанзия на европейските държави между 1600 и 1900 г., докато са изплащали чудовищни дивиденти на акционерите си, направили са о ...more
Karl Rove
Aug 03, 2011 added it
Shelves: read-in-2011
Through the personalities of the big men that ran them, a Canadian historian examines five government-sponsored monopolies that governed as dictatorial machines over vast swatches on the fringes of an expanding world between 1600 and 1900. These companies raised their own armies, ruled the lives of employees and native peoples, and ruthlessly squeezed profits to send to absentee investors back in their homelands. These trading enterprises included the British East India, Russian American, Hudson ...more
Catherine Gentry
Excellent history of the various companies which were instrumental to colonizing much of the world, but far too depressing. I only read the first two chapters. I may go back and read more eventually, but it's emotionally difficulty for me to read of the brutalities of the colonizers who much of the modern world has come to deify as if might makes rights ever.
Catherine Woodman
Interesting book about the role of merchants in worl politics--and instead of going over the entire history, it follows the lives and influence of 6 specific merchants, 17th-19th century figures, and looked at the local and global impact they had.
Daniel Smith
Oct 14, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Author was forthright that book was a bit topical and not focused so much on the corporations. Focused on the central figures that ushered the massive rise in each of the main mercantile trading companies.
Pedro A. Ribeiro
Bought this book on a whim, but it revealed to be totally justified.
A great insight of several historical figures, that through their power, derived solely from their skills as merchants, managed to leave a footprint in History, and even change its course.
Recommend it for people that love History. There's a lot to learn on these pages.
Josiah Coffey
In this somewhat brief overview of mercantilism during the 17th,18th and 19th centuries Brown focuses in on the six leading figures of the six most dominant merchant companies of this period. He tells the story of Jan Coen of the Dutch East India Company, Pieter Stuyvesant and the Dutch West India Company, Sir Robert Clive of the English East India Company, Aleksandr Baranov of the Russian American Company, Sir George Simpson of the Hudson’s Bay Company, and Cecil Rhodes of the British South Afr ...more
Keita Teranishi
Sep 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Interesting analysis of historical figures (merchant kings) who lead the chartered companies in the age of colonialism. They were brilliant, heroic and charismatic but ruthless and unscrupulous to achieve their goals for monopoly, territorial expansion and making profit (to please his share holders). The author addressed a spectrum of each figure (personal trait, economics, politics and war in Europe to depict, and ingenious society) to depict the nature of the colonialism that can be seen as a ...more
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I am a critically acclaimed author of nine literary non-fiction books on the history of science, exploration and ideas. I take a biographical and narrative approach to my writing, using the techniques of fiction writing – strong storytelling, creative language, emphasizing people, their decisions, actions and motivations – to tell factually and historically accurate stories.
More about Stephen R. Bown...