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Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple

On the cover jacket:

'Winner of the Duff Cooper Prize For History 2007.

Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet and a skilled calligrapher, who, though deprived of real political power by the East India Company, succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history. In 1857 it was Zafar's blessing to a rebellion among the Company's own troops that transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face.

The Last Mughal
is a portrait of the dazzling Delhi Zafar personified, and the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. Shaped from groundbreaking material, William Dalrymple's powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is an extraordinary revisionist work with clear contemporary echoes. It is the first account to present the Indian perspective on the siege, and has at its heart the stories of the forgotten individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history.

Praise for the book:

Amartya Sen:

"William Dalrymple's captivating book is not only great reading, it contributes very substantially to our understanding of the remarkable history of the Mughal Empire in its dying days, and also to the history of Delhi, of India, of Hindu-Muslim collaboration, and of Indo-British relations in a critically important phase of imperialism and rebellion. It is rare indeed that a work of such consummate scholarship and insight could also be accessible and such fun to read."

Khushwant Singh, Outlook:

"The Last Mughal shows the way history should be written....It rouses deep emotions. It will bring tears to the eyes of every Dilliwala."

Nayanjot Lahiri:

"A compelling, vivid account of the 1857 resistance...The Last Mughal captures the tragedy of a mutilated Mughal capital and its butchered populace."

Debolina's Verdict: 5/5 A Must-Read for any book lover.