“A colorful and revealing portrait of the rise of India’s new billionaire class in a radically unequal society.”

The Billionaire Raj was shortlisted for the FT / McKinsey Business Book of The Year award.

The book was named Business Book of the Year at the Tata Literature Live

It was also named one of Amazon’s top 100 books of 2018.


India is the world’s largest democracy, with more than one billion people and an economy expanding faster than China’s. But the rewards of this growth have been far from evenly shared, and the country’s top 1% now own nearly 60% of its wealth.

The Billionaire Raj takes readers on a personal journey to meet these reclusive billionaires, fugitive tycoons, and shadowy political power brokers. From the sky terrace of the world’s most expensive home to impoverished villages and mass political rallies, James Crabtree dramatises the battle between crony capitalists and economic reformers, revealing a tense struggle between against a combustible backdrop of aspiration, class, and caste.

The Billionaire Raj is a vivid account of a divided society on the cusp of transformation—and a struggle that will shape not just India’s future, but the world’s.


“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……”

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“Crabtree’s vivid portrayal of the corruption of politics is very informative, and thought-provoking….. Crabtree has given us the most comprehensive and eminently readable tour of economic India, which, as he shows, cannot be understood without a knowledge of how political India works.”

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“Mr Crabtree makes a muscular argument about the interlinkage of democracy, business and development….. 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.”

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“The book is chock-full of profoundly revealing vignettes from various corners of India’s endlessly diverse society and economy. Mr. Crabtree introduces us to local political fixers, national anti-corruption crusaders and even India’s equivalent of Bill O’Reilly (complete with a demagogic catchphrase: ”The Nation Wants to Know!”). The chaotic and complex nation that emerges does not appear to be under the rule of billionaires or anyone else.”

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“In crisp language designed for a general reader, “The Billionaire Raj” provides an overview of just how India became the world’s most coveted market after its independence from British rule.”

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You can watch a 3-minute cartoon version of the book here.

You can read a write up of one of my book talks here, given at the Lee Kuan Yew School official launch in August 2018.