Join a master storyteller for the cautionary tale of the first global corporate power – and the supreme act of colonial violence that changed the world forever.
William Dalrymple is one of our most beloved historians. A BAFTA winning broadcaster, the recipient of countless prizes and awards for his bestselling histories of India and the middle east, travel writing and essays, he is widely heralded as one of the English language’s most gifted living storytellers.
Now he joins How To: Academy to tell us 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 and answerable only to its shareholders: a story of shocking violence and ruthlessness that shaped Britain’s place in the world for centuries to come.
In August 1765 the East India Company defeated and captured the young Mughal emperor and forced him to set up in his richest provinces a new government run by English traders who collected taxes through means of a vast and ruthless private army. 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 more unusual: an aggressive colonial power in the guise of a multinational corporation.
In less than half a century it had trained up a private security force of around 260,000 men – twice the size of the British army – and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering first Bengal and finally, in 1803, the Mughal capital of Delhi itself. The Company’s reach stretched relentlessly until almost all of India south of the Himalayas was effectively ruled from a boardroom in London.
Three hundred and fifteen years after its founding, with a corporate Mogul now sitting in the White House, the story of the East India Company has never been more relevant.
Praise for William Dalrymple:
“Dalrymple is an outstandingly gifted historian”- Sunday Times, Max Hastings
“Dalrymple is a writer who can make the most recondite historical issues come alive … Quite simply brilliant” – Alexander McCall Smith
William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. City of Djinns won the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. The Age of Kali won the French Prix D'Astrolabe and White Mughals won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. The Last Mughal was longlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize and won the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize. His most recent book, Nine Lives, was published in 2009 to huge acclaim. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Dehli.