In this remarkable work of comparative economic history, Stephen Dale studies the activities and economic significance of the Indian mercantile communities which traded in Iran, Central Asia and Russia in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The author uses Russian sources, hitherto largely ignored, to show that these merchants represented part of the hegemonic trade diaspora of the Indian world economy, thus challenging the conventional interpretation of world economic history that European merchants overwhelmed their Asian counterparts in the early modern era. The book not only demonstrates the vitality of Indian mercantile capitalism, but also offers a unique insight into the social characteristics of an Indian expatriate trading community in the Volga-Caspian port of Astrakhan.
"...a work of extraordinary value and insight, with the additional virtue of brevity...will fascinate students of Russian, Central Asian, Iranian, Indian, and global history." Turkish Studies Association Bulletin "...opens up new and exciting vistas of ideas and research possibilities, tellingly tilts at tired academic windmills, and generally makes one want to rush to the desk and rewrite one's own work...His work on Indian trade diasporas in Iran, Central Asia and Muscovy is a fascinating and elegantly written exposition of a much neglected aspect of South Asian economic history. It is also a salutary counterweight to those who write about the interaction between Europe and South Asia through the prism of Eurocentric and imperial history...a superb piece of historical writing." International Journal of Maritime History "...an important new perspective on the Indian world economy in the early modern period...Dale's book is an important example of the new approach to the study of early modern India...In investigating overland trade, Dale has uncovered a rich and complicated network linking Multan in northwestern India with towns and cities in Russia, Iran, and Turan, thereby adding a great deal to the understanding of the Indian world economy." American Historical Review "...Dale has given us a thought-provoking study. This is a rewarding book that practices what is too often only preached." MESA Bulletin "It is a fascinating chronicle of regional and overarching economies...the commodities traded; and the number of merchants involved...and their place in the economy...a distinct contribution to understanding the 16th- to 18th-century economic history of western and northern Asia." Choice "...a thought-provoking study. This is a rewarding book that practices what is too often only preached." Rudi Matthee, MESA Bulletin "...an eloquent and trenchant corrective to Eurocentric biases in scholarly studies of Eurasian trade...Dale's study is a well-argued and incisive polemic." Ian Barrow, Chicago South Asia Newsletter "...Dale's service to Russian historians is considerable, for he has produced a view of Russian trade and society that is quite unique for its Asian context and relationship to (truly) world economic trends of the early modern era." PAul Bushkovitch, The Russian Review "This is a remarkable book...Dale demonstrates an impressive ability to move from Akbar's finance minister, to horse-trading in Kabul, to money-lending in Isfahan, and then to the impact of Ivan the Terrible and Peter the Great on the India trade, without inducing vertigo and while keeping a nice balance between the big picture and his Russian archival documents." Iranian Studies "This slender and highly readable study is an important and provocative addition to the literature questioning the Eurocentric paradigm." Journal of Middle East Studies