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The Billionaire Raj


James Crabtree


A Financial Times Book of the Year and an Amazon Top 100 Book of the Year

India’s explosive rise has driven inequality to new extremes, with millions trapped in slums as billionaires spend lavishly and dodge taxes. Controversial prime minister Narendra Modi promised ‘to break the grip’ of the Bollygarchs, but many tycoons continue to thrive amidst the scandals, exerting huge influence over business and politics.

But who are these titans of politics and industry shaping India through this period of breakneck change? And what kind of superpower are they creating?

A vivid portrait of a deeply divided nation, The Billionaire Raj makes clear that India’s destiny – prosperous democratic giant or corrupt authoritarian regime – is something that should concern us all.

  • Publication date: May 2, 2019
  • ISBN: 9781786075598
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 384
  • Publication date: July 5, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786073808
  • RRP: £18.99
  • Pages: 384
  • Publication date: July 5, 2018
  • ISBN: 9781786073815
  • RRP: £5.99
  • Pages: 384


‘Compelling…vivid…Crabtree has given us the most comprehensive and eminently readable tour of economic India.’

Meghnad Desai, Financial Times

‘An excellent survey of India’s economic and political transformation… Crabtree’s Indian story is a cautionary tale of globalization’s excesses and the consequences for one of the world’s most unequal societies.’

Washington Post

‘A vivid comparison to America’s late 19th-century Gilded Age drives this account of 21st-century India, with a teeming, colourful cast of the super-rich, the ultra-poor, the politically ambitious and the irredeemably corrupt.’

Financial Times, Books of the Year 2018

‘Timely reading…Crabtree’s eye for detail…gives some nice close ups…With so many tasty details, it is the right sort of snack to fill a hole as we watch and wait.’

The Times

‘The analysis really sings when Mr Crabtree finds new ways to capture the collision of profits, politics and public opinion. His account of India’s cut-throat network-TV industry, through the eyes of a star presenter, is thrilling.’

The Economist

‘A pacey and perspicacious account… Crabtree’s unique achievement is to probe the peculiarities of Indian cronyism and lay out its structural causes… For sheer chutzpah, India’s billionaires provide tremendous value. All this makes for a thoroughly entertaining book, but also for a sadly enfeebled and unequal nation.’

Oliver Balch, Literary Review

‘A reporting gem, The Billionaire Raj deserves to be widely read.’

Ashutosh Varshney, Indian Express

‘An eye-opening book from someone who clearly loves his subject.’

Oliver Bullough, Prospect

‘[A] stylish, sweeping survey of modern day India.’

Times Literary Supplement

‘A lively and valuable blend of the empirical and the anecdotal… The best parts of Mr. Crabtree’s book, however, aren’t his observations on the civic state of India (although these are certainly valuable and wise). They are his reportage, in which he relates his encounters with several of the men who are emblematic of the billionaire raj.’

Tunku Varadarajan, Wall Street Journal

‘A nuanced portrait…chock-full of profoundly revealing vignettes from various corners of India’s endlessly diverse society and economy.’

New York Times

‘James Crabtree, once a hugely-admired star foreign correspondent, has transformed himself into a brilliant writer and analyst of the Indian super-rich. This timely, fascinating and eye-opening book is also – a rarity for a book about money – wonderfully witty and beautifully written.’

William Dalrymple

James Crabtree

Author page

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