Monday, January 30, 2023

Adventurers: The Improbable Rise of the East India Company: 1550-1650 by David Howarth

Available as: Kindle, Hardcover

Amazon Blurb: The unlikely beginnings of the East India Company—from Tudor origins and rivalry with the superior Dutch—to laying the groundwork for future British expansion

The East India Company was the largest commercial enterprise in British history, yet its roots in Tudor England are often overlooked. The Tudor revolution in commerce led ambitious merchants to search for new forms of investment, not least in risky overseas enterprises—and for these “adventurers” the most profitable bet of all would be on the Company.

Through a host of stories and fascinating details, David Howarth brings to life the Company’s way of doing business—from the leaky ships and petty seafarers of its embattled early days to later sweeping commercial success. While the Company’s efforts met with disappointment in Japan, they sowed the seeds of success in India, setting the outline for what would later become the Raj. Drawing on an abundance of sources, Howarth shows how competition from European powers was vital to success—and considers whether the Company was truly “English” at all, or rather part of a Europe-wide movement.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2023

Anne Boleyn’s Letter from the Tower: New Updated Edition by Sandra Vasoli

Available as: Kindle, Paperback

Amazon Blurb: The British Library Archives protects a fragile, burned fragment of an impassioned letter. The document concludes,

“From my doleful Prison the Tower, this 6th of May. Your most Loyal and ever Faithful Wife, Anne Boleyn.”

The year was 1536. This letter, possibly the final words from Queen Anne Boleyn to her husband, King Henry VIII, has mystified historians for centuries. Was it composed by Anne? How did it reach the British Library? Did the King ever see it?

In the definitive study on the ‘Tower Letter’, Sandra Vasoli begins to untangle the letter’s convoluted past, presenting a provenance spanning almost 500 years. Vasoli also reveals a little-known, startling deathbed admission by Henry VIII. The cryptic clue gives us a glimpse into Henry’s anguish over his second wife.

This research may well alter the accepted view of Anne Boleyn and Henry VIII’s doomed marriage…

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