The Honourable Company
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The Honourable Company

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Description

During 200 years the East India Company grew from a loose association of Elizabethan tradesmen into "the grandest society of merchants in the universe". As a commercial enterprise it came to control half the world's trade and as a political entity it administered an embryonic empire. Without it there would have been no British India and no British Empire. In a tapestry ranging from Southern Africa to north-west America, and from the reign of Elizabeth I to that of Victoria, bizarre locations and roguish personality abound. From Bombay to Singapore and Hong Kong the political geography of today is, in some respects, the result of the Company. This book looks at the history of the East India Company.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 496 pages
  • 124 x 200 x 38mm | 340.2g
  • HarperCollins Publishers
  • HarperCollins Publishers Ltd
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • Revised ed.
  • 8pp illustrations, maps
  • 0006380727
  • 9780006380726
  • 52,884

About John Keay

John Keay is a writer, broadcaster and historian whose books include `Into India', `India Discovered', `When Men and Mountains Meet', `Highland Drove', `The Honourable Company: A History of the English East India Company', `The Great Arc', `China: A History' and (with his wife, Julia Keay) the `Collins Encyclopaedia of Scotland'. He has travelled extensively in India and the Far East, and specialised in Asian history and current affairs.show more

Back cover copy

Over two centuries, the East India Company grew from a loose association of Elizabethan tradesmen into 'the Grandest Society of Merchants in the Universe' - a huge commercial enterprise which controlled half the world's trade and also administered an embryonic empire. A tenth of the British exchequer's total revenue derived from customs receipts on the Company's UK imports; its armed forces exceeded those of most sovereign states. Without it there would have been no British India and no British Empire. John Keay reconstructs this epic of expansionist endeavour from the journals and records of the Company's employees: the first experimental voyages to the East; the earliest, often disastrous, settlements; the later, often inglorious, wars; and the often venal administrations. The story sweeps from southern Africa to north-west America, and from the reign of Elizabeth I to that of Victoria, abounding in bizarre locations and roguish personalities. From Bombay to Singapore and Hong Kong, the political geography of today is undeniably the creation of the Company. "The first accessible narrative history of the English East India Company which has appeared for some time...Keay recounts his story with the sweep of a James Michener, but one anchored in the meticulous scholarship of historians...Commercial successes and failures, battles and politics from Table Bay to Tokyo Bay are treated with verve and clarity." CHRISTOPHER BAYLY, 'The Observer' "Keay tells the story with skill and anecdotal lightness...Spices are aromatic, mosquitoes bite, the seas roar in Keay's fact-crammed book, and the narrative races as in a novel." ANTHONY BURGESS, 'The Independent' "Lively and thoroughly literate...an outstandingly wise and balanced account." PROFESSOR B. H. FARMER, 'Geographical Journal' "Enough rumbustious adventure stories to shock and delight any armchair reader." RACHEL BILLINGTON, 'Financial Times 'Books of the Year''show more

Rating details

314 ratings
3.69 out of 5 stars
5 23% (72)
4 38% (119)
3 27% (85)
2 10% (30)
1 3% (8)
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