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In 1765 the East India Company ceased to be a conventional trading corporation, dealing in silks and spices, and transformed itself into an aggressive colonial power. By 1803 it had trained up a private security force of around 260,000 - twice the size of the British army - and had subdued an entire subcontinent, conquering Bengal and later the Mughal capital of Delhi. In less than half a century, one company had executed a coup unparalleled in history: the military conquest and plunder of vast tracts of Southern Asia.
The East India Company remains today history's most terrifying warning about the potential for the abuse of corporate power, yet the official memory of this process has been subtly reworked.
Populated with towering names of imperial legend from Clive to Hastings, The Anarchy tells the remarkable story of how one of the world's greatest and most magnificent Empires fell apart and was replaced by a dangerously unregulated private company - based thousands of miles overseas in a London boardroom. In his most ambitious and thrilling book to date, William Dalrymple spins the story of the rise of the East India Company into a startling and timely cautionary tale for the global misconduct of corporate power.