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British East India Company
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Until recently, Nicola Phillips notes, "profligacy" was not a word much used in modern times, though it was a 19th-century British parent's worst nightmare. Now, with the recent financial crisis, the ease of obtaining credit and peer pressure to purchase goods that might otherwise be unaffordable, "profligacy" is a term that suits our era, so much so that this gem of a book provides a cautionary tale.
If you asked the average American what he thinks when you say the word "empire," he'd probably say something about exploitation, oppression and the heavy hand of intrusive government - a leviathan-like state we're steering toward yet desperately need to avoid.
For three centuries commencing about 1600, much of the world's commerce was controlled by what one could call "privatized imperialism" in the form of six privately owned trading companies granted state monopolies and operating beyond any independent control.
The year 2010 has been rough on the reputation of Sir Winston Churchill, the wartime leader of Great Britain. In the spring, "Winston's War," a book by the respected military writer Max Hastings tore so many holes in Churchill's reputation as a strategist that one reviewer wondered that had he died in 1942, "Germany might have been defeated sooner."