Merchant Kings

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SKU:  9781771623315
Product  9781771623315

Commerce meets conquest in this swashbuckling story of the six merchant-adventurers who built the modern world.

It was an era when monopoly trading companies were the unofficial agents of European expansion, controlling vast numbers of people and huge tracts of land, and taking on governmental and military functions. They managed their territories as business interests, treating their subjects as employees, customers or competitors. The leaders of these trading enterprises exercised virtually unaccountable, dictatorial political power over millions of people.

The merchant kings of the Age of Heroic Commerce include Jan Pieterszoon Coen, the violent and autocratic pioneer of the Dutch East India Company; Pieter Stuyvesant, the one-legged governor of the Dutch West India Company, whose narrow-minded approach lost Manhattan to the British; Robert Clive, who rose from company clerk to become head of the English East India Company and one of the wealthiest men in Britain; Aleksandr Baranov of the Russian American Company; Cecil John Rhodes of the British South Africa Company and founder of De Beers and Rhodesia; and Sir George Simpson, the "Little Emperor" of the Hudson's Bay Company, who was chauffeured about his vast fur domain in a giant canoe, exhorting his voyageurs to paddle harder so he could set speed records.

A blend of biography, corporate history and colonial history, this book offers a panoramic new perspective on the enormous cultural, political and social legacies--good and bad--of this first period of unfettered globalization.