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The Last Mughal is a fascinating look at the decline of the Mughal empire in India, set against the backdrop of the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857.
Summary Of The Book
The Last Mughal highlights Dalrymple’s longstanding fascination with the Indian city of Delhi. It presents the Delhi that formed the seat of the Mughal empire in India - a city as brilliant as the monarch who reigned over it. Indeed Bahadur Shah Zafar II embodied the very essence of Delhi city. He was a talented and versatile individual, well-versed in poetry, calligraphy, and mysticism. Despite being under the control of the East India Company to quite an extent, he nevertheless managed to form a dazzling court, setting the stage for one of India’s most culturally rich phases.
In 1857, the Sepoy Mutiny that shook the vast British empire had its roots in the small rebellion staged by Indian troops in the East India company - a rebellion that had Zafar’s approval. The final uprising had far-reaching consequences for the Indians as well as the British. In the aftermath of the uprising, the Mughal empire lay in complete shambles amidst heartbreaking blood and gore. The peaceful, once powerful emperor could only watch in helplessness and grief as his beloved empire was irrevocably lost.
Dalrymple has crafted the book with great care, by conducting in-depth research and paying attention to local sensibilities. He has even succeeded in capturing the prosperous, poetic vibe of the Mughal empire. Above all, his presentation of a beautiful, vibrant, and multi-ethnic city like Delhi has the potential to keep readers fascinated.
The Last Mughal was first published in 2006. It went on to win the Vodafone Crossword Book Award, and the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize For History and Biography. This particular edition is a 2007 reprint.
About William Dalrymple
William Dalrymple is a Scottish historian and writer.
His works include White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India, The Age Of Kali: Indian Travels and Encounters, In Xanadu: A Quest, Nine Lives: In Search Of The Sacred In Modern India, and City Of Djinns: A Year in Delhi.
His writing focuses on various aspects of the Eastern world, including religion, culture, and tradition. India is a recurring theme in many of his books. His work has been translated into over 40 languages. Dalrymple was born on March 20, 1965, in Scotland. He attended the Ampleforth College, and later Trinity College, Cambridge. He has contributed to history and literature in a variety of ways, and is one of the co-founders of the Jaipur Literary Festival. He has won several honors and awards, including the Sykes Medal from The Royal Society for Asian Affairs, the Mungo Park Medal from the Royal Scottish Geographical Society, and the Media Citizen Puraskar from the Indian Confederation of NGOs. Dalrymple is married to Olivia, an artist. The couple has three children - Adam, Sam, and Ibby. Dalrymple divides his time between his farmhouse at Mehrauli near Delhi, and his UK residences in Edinburgh and London.
|Number of Pages||608 Pages|
If I have to define this great work,I have only one word excellent.Here the characters(historical and real of course) rise from the usual fetters of the page and come to life and live with us as we read the book.William dalrymple being a scholar in history there is no worry about the details,they are well researched(mainly from Delhi's 1857 urdu newslets and dociments)
The is mainly about the famous 1857 mutiny(as the Brits call it) or the independence struggle,where the Brits subdue the sepoy forces of Delhi gathered from all over India due to thier own mistakes.Then the Brits take over Delhi and send Bahadur Shah Zafar to Rangoon,where he is made prisinor.
The best part about the writer is he never slants to either the Brits side nor the Mughal's side but does the work of an uninvolved spectator.
William Dalrymple astonishingly gives the disrcription of the revolt of 1857, often which is called as the first war of independance.The condition of the last mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar,his life and his worst days when he got captured.The marriage procession of son of Bahadur Shah Zafar gives out the total picture of that time's richness of India under the british rule. The most reminding event is that when the children of the emperor were made naked and were made to run in the streets of Delhi.Again the story of Mirza Galib and Bahadur Shah Zafar about the mangoes is fabulous.Each and every story and chapter in this book gives the immense knowledge about the India's past.When we study it seems as if the events are happening in front of us. The most intresting part is to study about the last days of Bahadur Shah Zafar, saying that "he came on elephant, ruled for sometime and left Delhi on the bullock cart and went to Burma. The way of recaptulating the past events is just fantastic and fabulous.
This was the first book that I had read which was written by William Dalrymple and I understood why he is such a revered author. The book is the outcome of extensive research carried by him. The political and socio-economic life of Delhi prevalent at those times was covered vividly and in detail. Some interesting facts that emerged from this books are
a) Bahadur Shah Zafar never had any battle experience
b) Bahadur Singh Zafar became leader of the uprising by circumstances rather than choice
c) There were British Sepoys among those who revolted
d) Offspring of some Britishers who mingled with the Indian society could not speak English
e) The battle of 1857 took mostly in streets
f) There were complete mayhem in Delhi due to looting, plundering, murder and rape both during and after revolt
g) Out of 31,29 sons of Bahadur Shah Zafar were prosecuted by British
h) Two sons who survived lived the life of penury in Rangoon after Bahadur Shah Zafar died
There are many facts that are mentioned that you may have not come across in earlier books on such subject. Even if you do not love history, this book is worth reading. Definitely, I would recommend this book.
Darlymple writes beautifully!!
He visits 19th century delhi and takes you along for the ride. You live amidst the delhi elite, taste their luxury, hear their rumors, and feel their fear. Even though a brit himself Darlymple never seems biased. He dwells elaborately on the prejudice of the company personell and the dying breed of those whom he calls "the white mughals". Whites who have adapted the lifstyle of the delhi elite... people like ochterloney, the frasers & the skinners who live in the style of a nawab and dorn the habit of a prince. They even maitain thieir own harems and marry aplenty. Learned in arabic and persian they quote galib and carry on as genuine mommadens.
Somewhere he contrasts a typical day of the delhites and the company persons and he does so with perfection and FEELING.
The vivid discriptions of the poetic mehfils, the mushairas create a nostalgic effect. And even though he talks of a time long past... you cant help feeling disappointed ...as if... you have MISSED something.
And then comes the mutiny... how the surreal reality is brutally destroyed. And the galib couplet at the end.... it breaks your heart!!
a must have. read it at leisure and recreate the glory of the Indian capital.
Once again Dalrymple enthralls and enlightens us through his in depth research, vivid description and intelligent and honest analysis. The amount of research and effort that has gone into writing this book is commendable and i salute Dalrymple for undertaking the mammoth work. It is perhaps the first account of the mutiny from the Indian point of view. Even though it does give us the entire story and centres round the part played by bahadur shah zafar, the reader can very well piece together the complete picture. Zafar may have been incompetent and spineless but as the descendant of a great dynasty he deserves to be remembered with far more respect than he actually was given.
This was the first book that I had read which was written by William Dalrymple and I understood why he is such a rever...
William Dalrymple has done a wonderful job in recreating this piece of history. Doesn't remember the last time I read such a vi...Read More
It is a great History book. But it becomes monotonous reading as the descriptions and repetitions are too much.
A very poignant depiction of the last Mughal. Well researched, indepth analysis, yet never boring. Racy yet lingering, slowly a...Read More