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Book Title: The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi 1857|
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Reader ratings: 5.9
The author of the book: William Dalrymple
Edition: Bloomsbury Publishing
Date of issue: August 1st 2009
ISBN 13: 9781408800928
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 3.39 MB
City - Country: No data
Read full description of the books:
I have lived with this book for months. Even now I hesitate to write this review because it feels too much like saying goodbye. I don’t want to leave this world and these people—I don’t want to remember that they are all dead and that a once glorious civilization is gone forever.
I had ordered a whole bunch of books on Near East and Islamic history and this one arrived at the library first. My intention was to work forward from ancient times to the present day. But then I saw from the cover that most of the action in this happens in the fateful year of 1857--exactly the time setting of novel I was reading Shadow of the Moon. The coincidence was clearly the Working of Fate, so I surrendered to the tides of time and plunged into the waters of the River Jumna to relive the last days of Zafar: mystic, poet, calligrapher--and doomed heir to the Mughal throne.
Dalrymple and his research team spent over four years in India uncovering and often translating for the first time vast treasure troves of documentary material, much of which had not been touched since it was gathered in 1857: The Mutiny Papers (100,000 Persian and Urdu documents from the National Archives of India filled with detail about court and ordinary life in Dehli); Urdu newspaper archives; the Dehli Commissioner’s Office Archive; previously untranslated first person Mughal accounts (including a moving memoire from a court poet); the rarely accessed Punjab and Rangoon Archives; pre-Mutiny records of the British Residency in Delhi (including spies reports and correspondence between the British Resident and his superiors).
Yet nothing about this book is dry. This is history at its very best--vivid, immersive and compulsively readable. Dalrymple makes Delhi so real that I, too, heard “in the silence that followed the end of the call to prayer, the songs of the first Delhi birds...the argumentative chuckle of the babblers, the sharp chatter of the mynahs, the alternating clucking and squealing of the rosy parakeets, the angry exclamation of the brain fever bird, and from deep inside the canopy of the fruit trees in Zafar's gardens...the woody hot-weather echo of the koel.”
Dalrymple's gift is both erudition--the deep knowledge of a scholar who immerses himself in every possible resource--and empathy. Perhaps above all--empathy. I defy anyone who reads this with an open mind and heart to leave the story of this world-changing moment in history without thinking-- if only ....
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Read information about the authorWilliam Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. The book won the 1990 Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award; it was also shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize.
In 1989 Dalrymple moved to Delhi where he lived for six years researching his second book, City of Djinns, which won the 1994 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. From the Holy Mountain, his acclaimed study of the demise of Christianity in its Middle Eastern homeland, was awarded the Scottish Arts Council Autumn Book Award for 1997; it was also shortlisted for the 1998 Thomas Cook Award, the John Llewellyn Rhys Prize and the Duff Cooper Prize. A collection of his writings about India, The Age of Kali, won the French Prix D’Astrolabe in 2005.
White Mughals was published in 2003, the book won the Wolfson Prize for History 2003, the Scottish Book of the Year Prize, and was shortlisted for the PEN History Award, the Kiryama Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize.
William Dalrymple is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Asiatic Society, and is the founder and co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.
In 2002 he was awarded the Mungo Park Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his ‘outstanding contribution to travel literature’. He wrote and presented the television series Stones of the Raj and Indian Journeys, which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA in 2002. His Radio 4 series on the history of British spirituality and mysticism, The Long Search, won the 2002 Sandford St Martin Prize for Religious Broadcasting and was described by the judges as ‘thrilling in its brilliance... near perfect radio’. In December 2005 his article on the madrasas of Pakistan was awarded the prize for Best Print Article of the Year at the 2005 FPA Media Awards. In June 2006 he was awarded the degree of Doctor of Letters honoris causa by the University of St Andrews “for his services to literature and international relations, to broadcasting and understanding”. In 2007, The Last Moghal won the prestigous Duff Cooper Prize for History and Biography. In November 2007, William received an Honourary Doctorate of Letters, honoris causa, from the University of Lucknow University “for his outstanding contribution in literature and history”, and in March 2008 won the James Todd Memorial Prize from the Maharana of Udaipur.
William is married to the artist Olivia Fraser, and they have three children. They now live on a farm outside Delhi.
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