The East India Company, 1784-1834 by C.H. Philips: a short review

This is a terrific book. The focus is the interactions between the East India Company directorate (called the Court) and the Parliament’s Board of Control (generally with the Board’s president, as the board rarely met), so the emphasis is on the internal dynamics of the Court and on the ever-changing relationship between the two authorities. This is, therefore, essentially a book about politics, writ large and small.

Moreover, the book’s primarily about the principal actors in the negotiations; minor players are often mentioned but are rarely given more than cursory notice. It helped a whole lot that I was already familiar with some of the figures participating; even so, I needed to review the biographies of Henry and Robert Dundas, and to remind myself of the Indian roles of the Wellesleys.

All that said, this wasn’t the book I’d hoped to read. I was hoping for more about the routine activities of the merchants and shippers. While there’s certainly information about those ventures in this book, it’s pretty much incidental to the main discussion. I may have to hunt down another book.


Just a short note on the ebook conversion….

This was originally an academic work published in 1940. The ebook is built from an excellent scan, and in general the conversion went well. But–what to do about the footnotes? The original manuscript had footnotes on each page, numbered from 1 to whatever. Preserving that format was clearly not an option, so instead the notes became chapter endnotes–with their original numbers. This was likely a mistake, as a routine result of following a hyperlinked footnote is to find a page with two or three footnotes numbered 2 (or whatever). Figuring out which note was relevant to your interest can be a bit problematical.

Better, I’d think, to change the numbering system. It’s not like abandoning the original numbers would damage the book.


This review was originally published on LibraryThing.

Revision History:

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