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The present day might be called a corporate age but the power of the company is nothing new: From Renaissance Italy to the British East India Company, it is impossible to understand the history of the last few hundred years without placing the humble company at the centre of the picture. What other institution could have produced the slave trade, opium wars, the stock market and the British Empire, the 'company man' and globalization? The history of the company includes some shocking tales, since companies have always rewarded some of the most greedy and unscrupulous - but they have also undoubtedly shaped the modern world. Today companies are increasingly regulated, but will there always be a new South Sea Bubble or another Enron? The authors extend their historical account to look at the company's future, which is, surprisingly, as smaller and more diverse. They explode the myth of a 'silent takeover' by corporations and challenge the assumptions of the anti-globalization movement, but make the ongoing power of the company abundantly clear.