The East India Company, 1600–1858: A Short History with Documents (Passages: Key Moments in History): Ian Barrow

In existence for 258 years, the English East India Company ran a complex, highly integrated global trading network. It supplied the tea for the Boston Tea Party, the cotton textiles used to purchase slaves in Africa, and the opium for China’s nineteenth-century addiction. In India it expanded from a few small coastal settlements to govern territories that far exceeded the British Isles in extent and population. It minted coins in its name, established law courts and prisons, and prosecuted wars with one of the world’s largest armies. Over time, the Company developed a pronounced and aggressive colonialism that laid the foundation for Britain’s Eastern empire. A study of the Company, therefore, is a study of the rise of the modern world.

In clear, engaging prose, Ian Barrow sets the rise and fall of the Company into political, economic, and cultural contexts and explains how and why the Company was transformed from a maritime trading entity into a territorial colonial state. Excerpts from eighteen primary documents illustrate the main themes and ideas discussed in the text. Maps, illustrations, a glossary, and a chronology are also included.


“Ian Barrow has written a concise yet engaging, rich, and detailed history of the East India Company—its rise to power, evolution, and eventual demise. This book will be read with great interest by students as well as those general readers seeking a better knowledge of the world’s first multi-national corporation and its important influence in the creation of the modern South Asian world.”
—Michael Dodson, Indiana University Bloomington

“The book fills in a gap in scholarship on the English East India Company by providing a chronological guide to the Company’s Indian activities. The East India Company serves as a reference for researchers starting their study of the English East India Company and as a source of information for students. Moreover, the selected primary sources provided at the end of the book represent an excellent entry into the study of the primary sources connected to contemporary English debates about the activities of the Company.”
—Karolina Hutková, London School of Economics, in The Economic History Review

“Ian Barrow’s slim volume uses the East India Company (or, as he refers to it throughout the book, simply the ‘Company’) as a case study through which to examine Britain’s colonial journey. From the Company’s inception in 1600 to its formal dissolution in 1874, its trajectory reflects England’s expanding global trade to obtaining a foothold in foreign lands to its problematic role as a colonizing country, through the growing challenges to and eventual collapse of that colonial authority. It is a concise history, but works well at bringing those multiple threads into one story. . . . There are many resources in this volume that will be beneficial for students and nonspecialists. A chronology, glossary, and series of maps provide useful aids to understanding and visualizing new concepts in the readings. Barrow closes with a concise and easily comprehensible summation of how the Company’s story is important as a case study of colonial rule and imperialism, and this will be one of the book’s most valuable aspects for educators. It is a story that is easy to follow, even in its complexity, and incorporates economic, religious, ethnic, political, and military history throughout the narrative. Students should find various topics that will hold their interest in this very readable book.”
—Michelle Damian, Monmouth College, in Education About Asia

About the Author

Ian Barrow is Professor of History, Middlebury College.

  • Publisher: ‎ Hackett Publishing Company, Inc. (February 14, 2017)
  • Language: ‎ English
  • Paperback: ‎ 208 pages
  • ISBN-10: ‎ 1624665969
  • ISBN-13: ‎ 978-1624665967
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 8.7 ounces
  • Dimensions: ‎ 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches

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