Bloomsbury presents The Anarchy by William Dalrymple, read by Sid Sagar The Top Five Sunday Times Best Seller Longlisted for The Baillie Gifford Prize for Non FictionIn Augustthe 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 call an act of involuntary privatisation The East India Company s founding charter authorised it to wage war and it had always used violence to gain its ends But the creation of this new government marked the moment that the East India Company ceased to be a conventional international trading corporation dealing in silks and spices and became something much unusual an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business In less than four decades it had trained up a security force of around , men twice the size of the British army and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering first Bengal and finally, in , the Mughal capital of Delhi itself The Company s reach stretched until almost all of India south of the Himalayas was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London The Anarchy tells the remarkable story of how one of the world s most magnificent empires disintegrated and came to be replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company, based thousands of miles overseas in one small office, five windows wide, and answerable only to its distant shareholders In his most ambitious and riveting audiobook to date, William Dalrymple tells the story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power

11 thoughts on “The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (Audio Download): William Dalrymple, Sid Sagar, Bloomsbury Publishing Plc: Audible Audiobooks

  1. D. J. B. James D. J. B. James says:

    The book opens with a list of characters, beginning with Lord Robert Clive, whom Mr Dalrymple hates It s followed by Warren Hastings whom he loves Clive, he describes as a genuinelya ruthless unprincipled plunderer, p 311 and yet on p 312 we read of Hasting s excesses, which appear to have included judicial murder, and yet still he loves him He ll forgive him anything, and is very happy to remind us that upon impeachment Warren Hastings was cleared of all charges but is pretty quiet about Clive who was cleared of all charges that had been levelled against him long before The book is a chronology of the Mughals and the how the British gained India, the heavy handed, brutal antics of the East India Company and its British officers He singles out Lord Robert Clive He attacks him in a personal, vindictive way, which not only smacks of amateurism but reads as though he s trying to appease a little gang somewhere It made me focus on it He makes him the villain of the piece Yet from Clive s correspondence, not quoted in this book , we read that this same man, upon purchasing of land in Wales and on the Welsh borders, pored over the maps to ask which tenant farmed what type of land and, where they were farming marginal hill land, reduced their rent to a homage rent, peppercorn, which is not consistent with the bigoted picture Mr Dalrymple paints He s equally rude about the Powis family, but I notice, but didn t have the grace to visit any of them during his research, as Bence Jones had in his book Clive of India, who went to see the Earl of Plymouth and gathered a lot of personal information thereby Obviously Mr Dalrymple considers himself above common courtesy.Later in the book, he accuses Henrietta Clive who went to India to join her husband Edward, Governor of Madras, of carrying off jewels looted from Tipu Sultan s palace after his defeat by Richard Wellesley in 1799 p 353 She paid for them Had she not bought them where would they be now Not in an Indian museum for certain They d have been lost Today they form part of a collection of the National Trust in Powys Castle It s reminiscent of the Elgin Marbles had Elgin not recovered these, where would they have been now In Greek hands Or likely, become target practice, smashed up and turned into foundation rubble for a block of flats Had Robert Clive, Lord Robert Clive s great grandson, not gone as watercolour artist to record the excavations at of the Assyrian reliefs in Nimroud and imported to England The Assyrian King Tukul apil esharra III Tiglath pileser III bas relief, which now hangs in the Detroit Institute of Arts Museum , where would that be now Robert Clive painted the lamassu the monolithic stone sculptures of human headed winged bulls which Layard shipped to England, which were exhibited in a the British Museum this year The ones that remained ISIS blew up and defaced, whose shattered remains vividly demonstrate Perhaps it might have been a little less spiteful to thank Henrietta Clive for saving these treasures And Lady Clive, Lord Robert Clive s wife, Margaret Maskelyne whose character he attempts to assassinate by first of all attempting to demonise her brother, Dr Nevil Maskelyne, Astronomer Royal, whom Dava Sobel turned into the blockhead of her book Longitude, then secondly by telling us of a report from The Salisbury Journal that her pet ferret had a diamond necklace 2,500 p 140 It was a joke Mr Dalrymple, a satirical joke She didn t really have a pet ferret with a diamond necklace, you see To try to pass that one off as fact is a bit cheap And another, if a beggar asked charity of Clive, he reputedly responded Friend, I have no small brilliants about me, is another joke, Mr Dalrymple a skit It s depressing to encounter an historian so unfamiliar with 18th Century satire and humour as to miss it again and again It might explain why his own book is so shorn of it Usually I look forward to my bed time read but not this one I slogged on to encounter yet dubiously executed insults of Clive We are told that after Plassey Clive wore six or seven bracelets, every one of a different species of gem and he also had hanging from his neck, over his breast, three or four chaplets of pearls, every one of inestimable valueHe at the same time amused himself with listening to the songs and looking at the dances of a number of singers, who he carried around with him wherever he went on elephants Pull the other one it s way out of character Moreover, given that Mr Dalrymple assures us how much Clive hated India and the Indians it seems pretty unlikely that he would go around dressed or behaving like one As a source he quotes Ghulam Hussan Khan, whoever he is, it reads to me that Ghulam Hussan Khan cracked another satirical joke, another Mr Dalrymple missed On page 263, he delivers another twist of spite where Shah Alam writes a letter to his fellow monarch George III in England, sending along a nazr ceremonial gift of rare jewels worth Rs100,000 1M today we are advised Neither letters nor gift reached their destination The inference being Clive stole them Ships sunk, Mr Dalrymple Cargoes never reached England Many fortunes were lost at sea Including gifts from potentates, one to another Check your shipping and you ll find out.This book is a slog There are no insightful little cameos of what it must have been like to have been a sepoy, or gunner or mahoot in the Indian army, or in the EIC army for that matter, no insight into the daily fare For me, Dalrymple falls into the category of the dusty academic who manages to cram in every historical detail while missing the human story It makes for heavy going the book is thick, it s hard to hold in bed at night, the only place to read it is on a desk or table, I d advise anyone thinking of buying it to get the Kindle version at you ll be spared the struggle.The best line in the book comes right at the end when Shah Alam dies, which tells us that he was the last of the Timurid line, beginning with the lame and ending with the blind but even they re not his words They come from a quote by William Fraser, Ochterlony s deputy p 387 Shah Alam had awarded the Diwani with Clive and his end was as a chessboard king, with a pension paid by the EIC under the protection of Richard Wellesley, who conquered of India than Napoleon did of Europe , become power mad and turned into a something of a despot himself before being recalled to England for his excesses His brother Arthur, later the Duke of Wellington, returned from India a very wealthy man as well Do we hear any criticism of these How they came by their loot The East India Company was a rotten business, and as he fairly states, an example of irresponsible corporate greed at its very worst but then so had been the South Sea Company, which very nearly brought down the entire British economy in the 1720s Commerce, it would appear, does not learn.All told, I found the book turgid and prejudiced I ll certainly not pick it up again nor recommend it.

  2. Constans Constans says:

    This exciting, brilliant history should really be granted 5 stars but the wearisome white male guilt of the author lessens it to 3 He is critical of the East India s Company s ruthless yet brilliantly conceived takeover of India but remains uncritical of the savage, inhuman torture methods eyes gouged out etc and genocidal levels of slaughter by contemporary Muslim and Hindu rulers After a battle between Mughal and Hindu armies all 30,000 Hindu prisoners of war were executed on the command of the Muslim victors The East India Company never actually did that Further, no credit whatever was given by the author for the fact that India today is a stable parliamentary democracy with an Anglophone elite Would the Islamic Mughal emperors have brought about such a democratic and West leaning India Not very likely is it Moreover, if the East India company had taken over China during the eighteenth century then the Chinese people today might be enjoying life in a benign democratic society instead of the threatening Orwellian one party state that the free world may soon have to confront.

  3. Graham Little Graham Little says:

    A superb read in the inimitable Dalrymple style backed up by no doubt immense research BUTIrritated by the constant asterisked conversions of 1600 s pounds to today s money as if today was somehow a fixed time point but seriously because the conversion has been made at a fixed factor of 105 which is misleading and taken to ridiculous exactitude Thus on page 12 we are solemnly advised that 68,373 in 1600 is worth 7,179,165 today Internet references suggest a factor range between 200 and 75,000 when comparing 1600 to 2019 At a factor of 105 EIC Directors are not much recompensed than some FTSE CEO s think Persimmon , but in terms of manned militia at their disposal or country estates that could be bought the factor must be much higher.Graham Little

  4. John John says:

    The title of the this book is The Anarchy The Relentless Rise of the East India Company Whilst the rise of the East India Company was certainly relentless its sense of purpose, profit for the shareholders, was hardly anarchic In fact what it it achieved with relatively few resources was remarkable In terms of conquest and economic exploitation it was hugely succesful Dalrymple argues that the conquest and exploitation was an abuse of corporate power and that after 420 years the story of the EIC has never been current Shock horror, multinationals will try anything they can get away with to enhance their international profits and they will take their business to wherever the margins are most favourable, exploiting local conditions where they can As British influence exapanded effective control and governeance could not be exercised by a Parliament several thousand miles and many months sailing distant Running the Empire worried the Victorians but long before that outsourcing control was essential and, to that extent, the original company charter, given the geographic limits of the time, seems a model of directness Of course it favoured the exploiters over the exploited Otherwise Dalrymple fills his copious volume with a great deal of interesting background most of which was missing from my A Level instruction in 1962 and the book reads well and holds interest However, I return to the title and judge that the author has failed I know a lot about life in India but I dont think I am much the wiser about the self evident rise of the EIC.

  5. Saurabh Natu Saurabh Natu says:

    How a century of shortsighted self absorbed Indians and ruthless cruel trading British ruined my country..Not to blame anyonebut however mean and cruel the corporate EIA looks, it looks like an attempt to absolve British government of all that happened History always is retrospectively convenient.And anyways, it does not absolve the Indian kings their sins of infighting, oppressive tactics and huge shortsightedness.Kudos for great history telling.

  6. Jim KABLE Jim KABLE says:

    What an amazing read famous names both of India and of England wars and battles and political and military alliances and the gradual shift of power both political and commercial from India to the East India Company and its shareholders William Dalrymple is without doubt one of the truly great historians of this part of the world And read all the footnotes and sources and the Index and the colour paintings at the end Everything about this book sprawls with amazing erudition and insight Bravo William Dalrymple You have done your adopted country proud.

  7. Arlan Arlan says:

    William Dalrymple nimmt in diesem Buch m hsame, pr zise Recherchen und Analysen teils noch nie verwerteter Quellen aus britischen und indischen Archiven und baut auf diesem Fundament ein fesselndes Narrativ, das den Leser ins Indien des 17 bis fr hen 19 Jahrhunderts entf hrt Die historischen Figuren sind detailliert gezeichnet, der Text flie t nur so dahin, man hat das Gef hl man lese einen gut geschriebenen Roman statt ein historisches Sachbuch Insgesamt also ein wirklich interessantes und lesenswertes Buch.Es verbleiben zwei Wermutstropfen, wegen derer das Buch f r mich einen Stern verliert 1 Dalrymple verliert sich hin und wieder in ausschweifenden Beschreibungen unwichtiger Details und Zusammenh nge, andere Passagen wirken bertrieben repetitiv An einer Stelle erkl rt er ausf hrlich, dass es von nun an nicht mehr die milit rische berlegenheit der EIC war, die ihr einen Vorteil gegen ber ihren indischen Rivalen verschaffte, sondern die F higkeit sich ber indische Bankh user quasi unbegrenzte Summen zu beschaffen und damit ihre Kriegsmaschinerie zu finanzieren Einige Seiten sp ter wird das Ganze nochmal ausgerollt und beschrieben, und der Leser denkt sich Okay, danke, das hatten wir schon, das habe ich mittlerweile verstanden 2 Der Untertitel des Buches, The Relentless RISE of the East India Trading Company ist leider Programm Von einem popul rwissenschaftlichen Buch von 576 Seiten erwartet man sich irgendwie, dass die gesamte Geschichte der EIC abgehandelt wird stattdessen bl ttert man, nach der Eroberung Delhis 1803 und nur etwa 2 3 des Buches, eine Seite um, nur um pl tzlich mit dem Wort Epilog konfrontiert zu werden Der ganze Rest des Buches besteht aus Fu noten, die m hsam mit den jeweiligen Textstellen abzugleichen sicherlich 95% der Leser nicht interessiert, und Quellenangaben, die in einer akademischen Ver ffentlichung sicherlich passender w ren als in einem popul rwissenschaftlichen Buch Das Ganze h tte man sich, meines Erachtens, sparen, und stattdessen die Geschichte der EIC zu Ende erz hlen k nnen, inklusive des historisch unglaublich bedeutsamen Sepoy Aufstands 1857, der bernahme Indiens durch die britische Krone, und die leise Aufl sung der EIC 1874 Nichtmal den Tod von Shah Alam, einem der zentralsten Charaktere des Buches, nur drei Jahre sp ter, bezieht Dalrymple noch mit ein Delhi ist erobert, der Rise der EIC vollendet, Vorhang zu, Ende.Dass in dieser Rezension kritische Punkte mehr Raum einnehmen als Lob soll aber nicht dar ber hinwegt uschen, dass es ein hervorragendes Buch ist, das ich sehr gerne gelesen habe.

  8. Tony Mammen Tony Mammen says:

    The joint stock company will probably be the biggest influencer of history in the 21st century William Dalrymple Anarchy is a must read for all economists and political scientists Well written an excellent chronicle on the case for regulating corporations

  9. aditya narayan aditya narayan says:

    Dalrymple never disappoints,a well researched,thorough look into EIC and it s functioning in India.All said,didn t expect the book to end suddenly as in was looking forward to a detailed look into the last days of EIC before nationalisation by the Crown,but,all in all,a must read

  10. Rakesh Agrawal Rakesh Agrawal says:

    The Indophile author, sharing his time b w Delhi London, has written his well researched book, showing how a mere trading company with its HQ in a small room in London, how looted India, that was having a vacuum after Aurangzeb weakened the richest mightiest empire in the world as India was really the golden bird then as it produced 1 4th of the world s produce.A must for those who care for India s history and don t want it to be repeated.

  11. SV SV says:

    Beautifully written, well researched with attention to detail The human elements of the characters are beautifully developed The ruthlessness of Robert Clive, the complexity of Warren Hastings, the pathos and reslience of Shah Alam and the heroism of Tipu Sultan This book takes you back to the mixed up history of the Hindus, Muslims and the Europeans and how different it was compared to how todays politicians portray history Life happens in different shades of grey and there is no black and white The Epilogue relates how to the relationship between companies and states today and how so much has changed, but so much still remains the same.