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The Business of Empire
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  • 15 tables
  • Page extent: 320 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.64 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 325.341095
  • Dewey version: 22
  • LC Classification: n/a
  • LC Subject headings:
    • East India Company
    • Great Britain--Colonies--Asia
    • Great Britain--Commerce--Asia--History
    • Asia--Commerce--Great Britain--History

Library of Congress Record


 (ISBN-13: 9780521844772 | ISBN-10: 0521844770)

The Business of Empire assesses the domestic impact of British imperial expansion by analysing what happened in Britain following the East India Company's acquisition of a vast territorial empire in South Asia. Drawing on a mass of hitherto unused material contained in the company's administrative and financial records, the book offers a reconstruction of the inner workings of the company as it made the remarkable transition from business to empire during the late-eighteenth century. H. V. Bowen profiles the company's stockholders and directors and examines how those in London adapted their methods, working practices, and policies to changing circumstances in India. He also explores the company's multifarious interactions with the domestic economy and society, and sheds important new light on its substantial contributions to the development of Britain's imperial state, public finances, military strength, trade and industry. This book will appeal to all those interested in imperial, economic and business history.

• A pioneering study of the East India Company and the functioning of imperial Britain • A significant contribution to a range of issues from the evolution of multinational enterprise to the role of women in the public sphere • The book will be essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the British Empire, business and trade, and the economy


1. Introduction; 2. Relationships: city, state, and empire; 3. Relationships: government and Company; 4. People: investors in empire; 5. People: company men; 6. Methods: an empire in writing; 7. Methods: the government of empire; 8. Methods: the management of trade; 9. Influences: the Company and the British economy; Afterword.


Review of the hardback: 'In many places he paints with a broad brush but, using the Company's ledgers, he does so with accuracy and an eye for detail that brings India and China, Britain and Europe, into the board room … Bowen and Cambridge University Press are to be congratulated on producing a very important book.' History

Review of the hardback: 'This is a careful and thorough study of an important but often ignored aspect of the history of the East Indian phenomenon.' Contemporary Review

Review of the hardback: 'This is a remarkable feat of scholarship that will immediately become an indispensable guide to later history of the British East India Company … Bowen's study provides a wealth of new information on many aspects of the company's operations in Britain in the century after the conquest of Bengal in 1756.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

Review of the hardback: '… Bowen … writes in a highly readable jargon-free style. One of the measures of his success in producing such a stimulating work,which will undoubtedly become a 'standard', is the way that reading him provokes so many thoughts of further research possibilities.' Asian Affairs

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