The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (Paperback)
  • The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (Paperback)

The Anarchy: The Relentless Rise of the East India Company (Paperback)

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Paperback 576 Pages
Published: 03/09/2020
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Waterstones Says

The riveting history of the East India Company, a private enterprise that became a de facto colonial power, William Dalrymple’s latest book is a cautionary tale about the pernicious effects of capitalism and the dangers of unregulated corporate greed.  

The Times History Book of the Year

Longlisted for the Baillie Gifford Prize for Non-fiction 2019

In August 1765 the East India Company defeated the young Mughal emperor and forced him to establish a new administration in his richest provinces. Run by English merchants who collected taxes using a ruthless private army, this new regime saw the East India Company transform itself from an international trading corporation into something much more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational business.

William Dalrymple tells the remarkable story of the East India Company as it has never been told before, unfolding a timely cautionary tale of the first global corporate power.

Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
ISBN: 9781408864395
Number of pages: 576
Weight: 540 g
Dimensions: 198 x 129 mm


An energetic pageturner that marches from the counting house on to the battlefield, exploding patriotic myths along the way - Maya Jasanoff, Guardian

A tour de force - Anne de Courcy, Telegraph

Magnificent … The Anarchy explodes myths that have accreted around the history of the Company like barnacles on the hulls of its ships ... Dalrymple shines a forensic light on the knotty historical relationship between commercial and imperial power - John McAleer, Evening Standard

Dalrymple has been at the forefront of the new wave of popular history, consistently producing work that engages with a wider audience through writerly craft, an emphasis on characters and their agency, evocative description of place and time, and the inclusion of long-neglected perspectives … The book’s real achievement is to take readers to an important and neglected period of British and south Asian history, and to make their trip their not just informative but colourful - Jason Burke, Observer

Gloriously opulent … India is a sumptuous place. Telling its story properly demands lush language, not to mention sensitivity towards the country’s passionate complexity. Dalrymple is a superb historian with a visceral understanding of India … A book of beauty - Gerard DeGroot, The Times

It is well-trodden territory but Dalrymple ... brings to it erudition, deep insight and an entertaining style - Financial Times

Combining extensive research, judicious analysis and an acceptable level of outrage, Dalrymple’s compelling account will cement his status as the most widely read British writer on India since Kipling … A brave and stirring narrative of India’s eighteenth-century fragmentation - John Keay, Literary Review

[A] rampaging, brilliant, passionate history … Dalrymple gives us every sword-slash, every scam, every groan and battle cry. He has no rival as a narrative historian of the British in India … A gripping tale of bloodshed and deceit, of unimaginable opulence and intolerable starvation ... shot through with an unappeasable moral passion - Wall Street Journal

‘Masterful … Dalrymple has been for some years one of the most eloquent and assiduous chroniclers of Indian history. With this new work, he sounds a minatory note … Dalrymple has done a great service in not just writing an eminently readable history of eighteenth-century India, but in reflecting on how so much of it serves as a warning for our own time’ - Stuart Kelly, Scotland on Sunday

A magnificently readable book, deeply researched and richly atmospheric, written with a historian’s understanding of power and a novelistic eye for detail - Francis Wheen, Mail on Sunday

A rip-roaring tale of wild adventure, amorality, feckless greed and despicable behaviour … His best history to date - Louise Nicholson, Country Life

[Dalrymple] is a terrifically good storyteller. He makes the reader see how events unfold and observe the personalities up close. He is widely read both in the primary sources and the historical scholarship. As a result, The Anarchy is one of the best books on Indian history published in a long time - Times Literary Supplement

Deeply researched yet easy to read, this landmark history of the East India Company is unputdownable. This is pure narrative joy - HWA Non-Fiction Crown Judges

Probably the best work of a quartet of books that Dalrymple has written focusing on Indian history... Beautifully written and generous in its details; well worth the time and effort - Which 50

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“The East India Company's history”

William Dalrymple is an extraordinary writer, deeply immersed in his subject and with an enviable command of the sources both British and Indian. Moreover, he has the ability to take a complex subject and to make... More

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 70

“Another superb read from William Dalrymple”

I have to declare at the outset that I have been a big fan of William Dalrymple for many years and this volume does not disappoint. I have been fortunate in being able to travel to India several times in recent years... More

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 26


A subject I knew about but now more so thanks for the author. Strong and clear.

Paperback edition
Helpful? Upvote 16

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