A depressing but expert account of the rise of the first great multinational corporation.



The often nasty history of the British company that grew to rule India in the 18th century.

Veteran historian Dalrymple (Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan, 2013, etc.) reminds readers that the Spice Islands, around what is now Indonesia, were a source of lucrative trade, dominated in the 16th century by the Dutch. In 1600, Queen Elizabeth granted envious British merchants a monopoly in the region. Ships of the fledgling East India Company made some profitable voyages, but the Dutch defended their territory violently. Consequently, Britons turned their attention to India, then an open market mostly ruled by the Mughal Empire, considered the wealthiest in the world. The EIC established thriving trading settlements along the coast and respected Mughal authority. Matters changed after 1707, when the last competent ruler died and the empire dissolved into chaos and war between ambitious men and principalities. This was no secret to the EIC, which began training its own armies and expanding its influence by taking sides. Perhaps the key event was the pugnacious Robert Clive’s 1757 victory at the Battle of Plassey, which gave the company control of Bengal, the richest province in India. The result, as characterized in Dalrymple’s unsparing account, was a feeding frenzy in which fortune-seeking Britons forcibly ejected native merchants and landowners, took over tax collection, and literally stripped the land bare. In 1770, Bengal suffered its first disastrous famine, and others followed. The author diligently recounts decades of violence (“the Anarchy”) that followed, ending just after 1800 with the defeat of the last local Indian potentate. “In less than fifty years,” writes Dalrymple, “a multinational corporation had seized control of almost all of what had once been Mughal India. The author concludes gloomily that the EIC has no exact modern equivalent, but Walmart, Apple, and other massive corporations do not need their own armies; governments are happy to protect their interests.

A depressing but expert account of the rise of the first great multinational corporation.

Pub Date: Sept. 10, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-395-4

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: July 28, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2019

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.



Rootin’-tootin’ history of the dry-gulchers, horn-swogglers, and outright killers who populated the Wild West’s wildest city in the late 19th century.

The stories of Wyatt Earp and company, the shootout at the O.K. Corral, and Geronimo and the Apache Wars are all well known. Clavin, who has written books on Dodge City and Wild Bill Hickok, delivers a solid narrative that usefully links significant events—making allies of white enemies, for instance, in facing down the Apache threat, rustling from Mexico, and other ethnically charged circumstances. The author is a touch revisionist, in the modern fashion, in noting that the Earps and Clantons weren’t as bloodthirsty as popular culture has made them out to be. For example, Wyatt and Bat Masterson “took the ‘peace’ in peace officer literally and knew that the way to tame the notorious town was not to outkill the bad guys but to intimidate them, sometimes with the help of a gun barrel to the skull.” Indeed, while some of the Clantons and some of the Earps died violently, most—Wyatt, Bat, Doc Holliday—died of cancer and other ailments, if only a few of old age. Clavin complicates the story by reminding readers that the Earps weren’t really the law in Tombstone and sometimes fell on the other side of the line and that the ordinary citizens of Tombstone and other famed Western venues valued order and peace and weren’t particularly keen on gunfighters and their mischief. Still, updating the old notion that the Earp myth is the American Iliad, the author is at his best when he delineates those fraught spasms of violence. “It is never a good sign for law-abiding citizens,” he writes at one high point, “to see Johnny Ringo rush into town, both him and his horse all in a lather.” Indeed not, even if Ringo wound up killing himself and law-abiding Tombstone faded into obscurity when the silver played out.

Buffs of the Old West will enjoy Clavin’s careful research and vivid writing.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21458-4

Page Count: 400

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: Jan. 20, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2020

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