Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Brilliant and Unique Critique of the Ties between the Crown and the East India Company

Academic journal article Pennsylvania Literary Journal

Brilliant and Unique Critique of the Ties between the Crown and the East India Company

Article excerpt

Brilliant and Unique Critique of the Ties Between the Crown and the East India Company Rupali Mishra. A Business of State: Commerce, Politics, and the Birth of the East India Company. 412pp, 6X9". ISBN: 978-0-674-98456-1. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2018.

I requested this book because I have been coming across mentions of the East India Company in my research into eighteenth century British literature. Travel voyage novels and various other fictional and true accounts touch on it directly or indirectly as it had sway over the world's economy and politics at its peak in 1800. This book is not entirely what would have been directly relevant for my research, as it covers the birth of the company in 1600 and its history in its first century. Regardless, its founding has more profound lessons than its later history as its foundational structure is unique to history. The cover explains that the "monarch and his privy counselors" as well as an "extended cast of eminent courtiers and powerful merchants" shaped the nature of this company. Mishra's analysis is distinguished from earlier studies as she argues that the East India Company was "embedded within-and inseparable from-the state" in contrast with earlier interpretations of it as a "private entity" that became state-like. This is a particularly important distinction for my own research because as a part of the state, this company had the power to commission propagandistic novels and other accounts that glorified its colonial endeavors. The controversial thesis is particularly impressive as the book was authored by only an Assistant Professor in the Department of History at Auburn University (without an extensive publication record or decades of teaching experience). The text is of the highest quality, with polished prose and detailed notes, so it is clear why Harvard University Press accepted it.

The content is divided into categories of people or entities that governed the Company, including the Court of Committees, merchants, adventurers, and the regime. Other chapters look at separate decades and how the relationship between the Crown and the Company changed, including a chapter on trade manipulation in the 1630s. the first page opens with the central argument that was made in a "questionably legal" memo: "Each of the schemes... involved the transfer of money from Company members to the monarch. …

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