Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Green Books Campaign: The Merchant Kings by Stephen Bown




This review is part of the Green Books campaign . Today 100 bloggers are reviewing 100 great books printed in an environmentally friendly way. Our goal is to encourage publishers to get greener and readers to take the environment into consideration when purchasing books. This campaign is organized by Eco-Libris, a  a green company working to green up the book industry by promoting the adoption of green practices, balancing out books by planting trees, and supporting green books. A full list of participating blogs and links to their reviews is available on Eco-Libris website .

What's green about this book you might ask?  Well it's green because it is printed on FSC-certified paper.  To find out more about what this means go to Green Books campaign.

I am thrilled to be a part of this campaign because I do try and do my part to help with our environment and buying a "green" book is one easy way I can.  Today to me is about showing the publishing industry what they can do to do their part too while still making print books for those of us who love print.

Now on to my book review:


 Merchant Kings: When Companies Ruled the World 1600-1900 by Stephen R. Bown

Published: September 1, 2009
Publisher: D&M Adult
Binding: Hardcover
Pages: 256

Rating: Easy to read, interesting

Thank you Raz at Eco-Libris for sending me this book for review and inviting me to be a part of the Green Books Campaign.
 My Review:

I have not finished the whole book yet.  But what I have read has been very enjoyable.  It is full of things I didn't know.  I would read some look up at my husband and say "Did you know ..." and he would say yes and then expound upon it.  All of this made me wonder where I was in history class all those years ago.


This is an interesting look at the first companies that existed and let me tell you - we think corporations are bad today - the ones that Mr. Bown has chosen to look at in this book that were in existence from 1600-1900 were very bad also.  Some of these companies had their own police force, military and usually their own government.  Whatever it took to take over and monopolize that corner of the world or market, they would do.

It reads like fiction, but it's not, full of wonderful facts and history, we learn what companies and business was like in previous times and how monopolies were rampant in this period of time.  A great book and I look forward to finishing it.  When I do my husband is wanting to read it too.  He's more of a non-fiction reader than I am and from the bits and pieces I have shared with him, he has decided this is a book he definitely wants to read.

About the Book:
Commerce meets conquest in this swashbuckling story of the six merchant-adventurers who built the modern world, as told by "Canada's Simon Winchester".

The Merchant Kings of the Age of Heroic Commerce were a rogue's gallery of larger-than-life merchant-adventurers who, during a couple of hundred years, expanded their far-flung commercial enterprises over a good portion of the world to generate revenue for their shareholders, feather their own nests and satisfy their vanity and curiosity.

Merchant Kings looks at each ruling monopoly through its greatest "Merchant King" - Jan Pieterszoon Coen of the Dutch East India Company, Pieter Stuyvesant of the Dutch West India Company, Robert Clive of the English East India Company, Alexandr Baronov of the Russian American Company, George Simpson of the Hudson's Bay Company and Cecil John Rhodes of the British South Africa Company - and follows their fortunes through the era when nations belatedly assumed responsibility for these quasi-colonial commercial enterprises. These Merchant Kings were vested with enormous powers by both their company and their country: the right to establish private armies, pass laws, collect taxes and negotiate treaties or wage war with foreign princes.

In trying to balance the interests of their company with the interests of their country, they changed history as significantly as the most celebrated generals, despots and monarchs.

Merchant Kings is the narrative and biographical story of the great commercial monopolies that at one time ruled millions of people and vast tracts of the world. Although the stories of most Merchant Kings have been told before, they have never been considered together, even though they lived in overlapping time periods between the early 1600s and the late1800s.

Their incredible exploits changed the world during an age of unfettered globalization not unlike the period in which we find ourselves today.

20 comments:

Serena said...

wow, merchant history. thanks for the review.

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