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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Do Not Know About the EIC, You Cannot Fully Understand World Economic History
I am reliably informed that school kids nowadays are taught in detail about this important and fascinating subject. Certainly in China and India, the way the East India Company "Changed the World" has for decades informed part of their self identity and their economic history narratives. But for the rest of you, who may feel like me that this subject was under represented...
Published 21 months ago by Rob Julian

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2.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject,but disapointing treatment
Having watched the tv series I was looking forward to reading this but have to say I was disappointed. It read more as a thesis than a history book, I found it very dry. There were almost no anecdotes or individual stories relating to the people involved. It was well researched but despite there being so many letters and accounts of life under the Company on record, the...
Published 4 months ago by STEPHEN WEST


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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If You Do Not Know About the EIC, You Cannot Fully Understand World Economic History, 10 Jan 2013
By 
Rob Julian (Birmingham, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational (Paperback)
I am reliably informed that school kids nowadays are taught in detail about this important and fascinating subject. Certainly in China and India, the way the East India Company "Changed the World" has for decades informed part of their self identity and their economic history narratives. But for the rest of you, who may feel like me that this subject was under represented in our education, this excellent book is the best way to to make amends.

And what a story it is. All economic life is here. I started to make a list (in alphabetical order) of the facets and issues which the company's history throws up; Agency / principle issues, Boston tea party, business ethics, capture of the political system, corruption, drug dealing, economies of scale, exploitation, famine, government bail-outs, gunboat diplomacy, imperialism, insider dealing, military conflict, monopoly, outsourcing of government services, protectionism, racism, regulation, speculation, terms of trade. And I am sure you will find more! Also notable figures from history crop up in connection; Adam Smith, Duke of Wellington, Edmund Burke, John Stuart Mill, Karl Marx, Thomas Malthus.

So why did this company change the world? The answer is that it did so in many small ways, but the big central point is this; 300 years ago, both China and large parts of what is now India were in all practical ways, more economically accomplished and well placed than Europe. They had thriving production in goods that Europe soon fell in love with, like spices, cotton clothes, porcelain and later tea. Europe and Britain on the other hand produced nothing that caused such consumer desire in these oriental countries, and therefore gold and silver had to flow in the opposite direction. The nub of the later part of the story of the EIC is how it reversed this dynamic, essentially through quite controversial means; military, political and dodgy deal shenanigans in India, and facilitating the dealing of Indian grown opium in China. It is therefore completely justified for the title to claim that the East India Company was; "The Corporation that Changed the World".

Like me, you may have had an education which emphasised the inventiveness of the plucky British industrialist, which missed out this sharper, darker history, full of greed and plunder. The reasons for the former neglect of this subject, (and the lack of visible reminders of this massive company in London), are perhaps a mixture of slight national shame and a poor fit with the inventiveness and free market narratives that have since been adopted to explain British economic success. But things are changing for the better.

With a history background and a City related job, Nick Robins is obviously the right person to contribute to this enlightenment. His rich, broad approach spans the company's diverse story. The business dimension such as the company's fluctuating share price and its original and innovative financial arrangements are included, of interest perhaps to today's city guys who hustle a living on the same London streets. Also included are the more literary and cultural references of interest to history junkies, which also link notable people and events of that time to the story.

Besides the big point regarding the pivoting of the international economic upper hand in favour of Britain, there are many smaller things to take away from this epic saga. The company's activities have links with many of the notable events and issues in the history of the last 400 years, and one could imagine that the study of the not that "Honourable Company" would be a good vehicle for a complete education in politics, economics and moral philosophy / business ethics. As I said earlier, all life is here. ...

Imagine a long overdue BBC Four documentary series covering the different periods of the company's history. All those old ships and reconstructions of historical events, ... mmm pure bliss for a Sunday night!
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars HERE WE ARE NOW, 19 Jan 2013
By 
Pat Dunphey (London, England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational (Paperback)
Reading this book has made it blindingly obvious to me that the nature of men has enabled the nature of man to evolve.
The EIC in my view created the environment for the Enlightenment to come about. The profits from the EIC allowed the West the time to think.
Western philosophy built upon Eastern and Middle Eastern Philosophy and the Enlightenment occurred. This is something we can all be grateful for.
Without the EIC I doubt this would have happened. I stress this is history and not the way forward.
I would like to thank you Nick and look forward to joining in your walk.

Initially I gave four stars, which I class as excellent. I save five stars for books that will change the world. This book will most certainly change the minds of many Brits and those abroad who are not fully aware of this history.

Re corporate behaviour, it would be a waste of time and money to try and legislate against 'the invisible hand'. Having spent many years as an executive in an International Corporate Environment I have to say I do not recognise this psychopathic behaviour ( only slightly psychopathic!). Even the most fearsome SVP was a pussy cat deep down and always had the interest of the company at heart. I think having a few females around keeps men on their best behaviour and Vice Versa, although too many women would be a disaster (in a corporate environment). Both the males and the females need to be the strongest.

Females, not legislation will probably soften this corporate 'city' behaviour referred to in the book. Any company or country that does not allow equal opportunity to all, is like a plane trying to take off with just one engine running. It will just keep going round in circles/cycles. Another idea would be to make social responsibility an active part of the HR department with a representative on the board.

The behaviour of the EIC or it's shadow does not resemble my idea of globalisation. The great thing about us humans is that we are capable of learning from our mistakes.

Genetic Engineering - do we really want to be left with no one to defend us if aliens invade? Redirection not re-engineering is what is required. We need to change the value of money and what it is used for, not the fighting value of the human spirit. We still need it.

Perhaps one small step in atonement could be to surround Clive's statue in the bars of an iron cell, rather than hiding it away in a museum.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not much changes in business!, 13 Dec 2013
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This review is from: The Corporation That Changed the World: How the East India Company Shaped the Modern Multinational (Paperback)
Fascinating timeline on how big business has developed over the centuries, how business and governments have started as friends and then things turn ugly. The same corporate challenges as we see today. And often the same personalities emerging.
Invaluable as a background to the growth of the capitalist model and where it can lead if not held in check.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars corruption where did it begin, on our door step in the City of London., 13 Jun 2014
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This British company may have done great things, language, law and railways but it exploited Bengal and no doubt can be held responsible for the impoverished and exploited state that is Bangladesh today. This book tells the story of the EIC, next time you hear Land of Hope and Glory you might want to sing quietly.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating subject,but disapointing treatment, 17 Jun 2014
Having watched the tv series I was looking forward to reading this but have to say I was disappointed. It read more as a thesis than a history book, I found it very dry. There were almost no anecdotes or individual stories relating to the people involved. It was well researched but despite there being so many letters and accounts of life under the Company on record, the author seems to have chosen to ignore to ignore the human side almost totally. Its very rare for me not to finish a book but I didn't get to the end of this.
I wish Thomas Asbridge had written this
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