The Anarchy by William Dalrymple review – the East India Company and corporate excess

This post is by Maya Jasanoff from Books | The Guardian

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Patriotic myths are exploded in a vivid pageturner, which considers the Company as a forerunner of modern multinationals, ‘too big to fail’

About a century ago, a series of giant murals was unveiled in the Palace of Westminster depicting the “Building of Britain”, which bounded in eight set-pieces from King Alfred’s long-ships beating back the Danes in 877 to bewigged parliamentarians presenting Queen Anne with the articles of Union in 1707. The penultimate scene travels to India in 1614, where the Mughal emperor Jahangir receives an ambassador from King James I, on a mission to promote trade with the newly chartered English East India Company.

From the hindsight of the 1920s, this embassy looked like a key step in the building of a British imperium that would end with Britain’s monarchs as India’s emperors. But the arrival of the British in India in the early 1600s looked very ...