[KINDLE] ❃ The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 ❆ William Dalrymple – Horse-zine.co.uk


The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 explained The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857, review The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857, trailer The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857, box office The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857, analysis The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857, The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857 7b8d On A Hazy November Afternoon In Rangoon A Shrouded Corpse Was Escorted By A Small Group Of British Soldiers To An Anonymous Grave In A Prison Enclosure As The British Commissioner In Charge Insisted, No Vestige Will Remain To Distinguish Where The Last Of The Great Moghuls Rests Bahadur Shah Zafar II, The Last Mughal Emperor, Was A Mystic, An Accomplished Poet And A Skilled Calligrapher But While His Mughal Ancestors Had Controlled Most Of India, The Aged Zafar Was King In Name Only Deprived Of Real Political Power By The East India Company, He Nevertheless Succeeded In Creating A Court Of Great Brilliance, And Presided Over One Of The Great Cultural Renaissances Of Indian HistoryThen, In , Zafar Gave His Blessing To A Rebellion Among The Company S Own Indian Troops, Thereby Transforming An Army Mutiny Into The Largest Uprising Any Empire Had To Face In The Entire Course Of The Nineteenth Century The Siege Of Delhi Was The Raj S Stalingrad One Of The Most Horrific Events In The History Of Empire, In Which Thousands On Both Sides Died And When The British Took The City Securing Their Hold On The Subcontinent For The Next Ninety Years Tens Of Thousands Indians Were Executed, Including All But Two Of Zafar S Sixteen Sons By The End Of The Four Month Siege, Delhi Was Reduced To A Battered, Empty Ruin, And Zafar Was Sentenced To Exile In Burma There He Died, The Last Mughal Ruler In A Line That Stretched Back To The Sixteenth CenturyAward Winning Historian And Travel Writer William Dalrymple Shapes His Powerful Retelling Of This Fateful Course Of Events From Groundbreaking Material Previously Unexamined Urdu And Persian Manuscripts That Include Indian Eyewitness Accounts And Records Of The Delhi Courts, Police And Administration During The Siege The Last Mughal Is A Revelatory Work The First To Present The Indian Perspective On The Fall Of Delhi And Has As Its Heart Both The Dazzling Capital Personified By Zafar And The Stories Of The Individuals Tragically Caught Up In One Of The Bloodiest Upheavals In History

  • Hardcover
  • 534 pages
  • The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857
  • William Dalrymple
  • English
  • 12 December 2018
  • 9781400043101

About the Author: William Dalrymple

William 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



10 thoughts on “The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857

  1. says:

    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 birdsthe 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 gardensthe 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.

  2. says:

    A chronicle of the horrors of colonialism in Mughal Delhi and greater India If Niall Ferguson s Empire The Rise and Demise of the British World Order and the Lessons for Global Power may be said to speak to the upside of Empire its legacy of representative government, etc then The Last Mughal shows its downside racism, religious intolerance, commercial exploitation, wage slavery, the suppression of indigenous cultures, etc There was a feeling that technologically, economically and politically, as well as culturally, the British had nothing to learn from India and much to teach it did not take long for imperial arrogance to set in This arrogance, when combined with the rise of Evangelical Christianity, slowly came to affect all aspects of relations between the British and the Indians p 68 So a cautionary tale And I had thought that Adam Hochschild s King Leopold s Ghost gave a chilling look at Brussel s genocidal intervention in Congo Alas, Britain is very much in the same Rogues Gallery.

  3. says:

    Why study history, especially the 1857 Indian Mutiny aka, Sepoy Rebellion or 1st War of Indian Independence Because sometimes the threads are just so damn interesting and even pertinent Here s one The Mughal Empire was known for its tolerance and usually treated Muslims and Hindus equally At the end of the Delhi battle, the Muslims get the lion s share of the blame while mainly high caste Hindu sepoys comprised the majority of the rebel forces and were the primary instigators The Hindus regain access to Delhi, to housing and positions while the Muslims are shut out This breaks the long standing era of tolerance and common cause between Hindus and Muslims One branch of the Muslim community breaks off to study the west and become modern Another branches off to establish a madrasa devoted to an orthodox Islam, stripped of any Western or Indian influences One hundred and forty years later that madrasa gives us the Taliban of our age in Pakistan and Afghanistan Made me think The Last Mughal The Fall of a Dynasty Delhi, 1857 gets 5 Stars to bring it alongside Our Bones Are Scattered The Cawnpore Massacres and The Indian Mutiny Of 1857, the history of the same mutiny but in a different location The Last Mughal brings us the story of the Emperor, the royal family and what happened in Delhi, the epicenter of the entire rebellion The book gives a short background of what life was like for the royals and the native inhabitants of Delhi We also see the evolution of the British moving from coexisting and blending into the Indian culture to aggressively imposing British law, rule, Western education and, most alarming, evangelical Christianity view spoiler The new attitudes of the Evangelicals were only part of a widespread and visibly growing arrogance on the part of the increasingly powerful British Since they had finally succeeded in conquering and subduing the Sikhs in 1849, the British at last found themselves the masters of South Asia every single one of their military rivals had now been conquered Siraj ud Daula of Bengal in 1757, the French in 1761, Tipu Sultan of Mysore in 1799, and the Marathas in 1803 and again, finally, in 1819 For the first time there was a feeling that technologically, economically and politically, as well as culturally, the British had nothing to learn from India and much to teach it did not take long for imperial arrogance to set in This arrogance, when combined with the rise of Evangelical Christianity, slowly came to affect all aspects of relations between the British and the Indians The Delhi College, initially a madrasa than a Western university, was remodelled by the Company in 1828 to provide, in addition to its oriental studies, an education in English language and literature The object was to uplift what the new college committee now saw as the uneducated and half barbarous people of India Behind the move was Charles Trevelyan, the brother in law and disciple of Thomas Babingdon Macaulay, the same Macaulay whose minute famously declared that a single shelf of a good European library was worth the whole native literature of India and Arabia The historical information which has been collected from all the books written in the Sanscrit language is less valuable than what may be found in the most paltry abridgments used at preparatory schools in England The languages of Western Europe civilized Russia I cannot doubt that they will do for the Hindoo what they have done for the Tartar hide spoiler

  4. says:

    I believe that one of the first things that need to be done after reading a book such as this to literally take a bow to the author for his efforts You could be an expert in your field, having worked your way through every bit of ponderous tome you could ever read, but when it comes to creating a story out of it, a clear thread that runs through every bit of knowledge that you have and to be able to share it with a reader, who comes with a background of having been told fuck all in his school s history books as if it had only happened yesterday, is no small feat Lets face it even for those of us who love history raises hand excitedly like Hermione used to all the time , it can sometimes get a little boring Maybe than a little You could be reading an e folio of Abul Fazl s Ain i Akbari, hoping to get a sense of what the Mughal Rajputana relations were actually like Mr Fazl though, wouldn t haul ass beyond heaping glory on the emperor, with a million titles and one And so the amateur history enthusiast ends up closing that link and opens up Netflix yet again.Now that is not a problem with The Last Mughal Just a month and a half ago, I had heaped similar praises on Manu Pillai s The Rebel Sultans And at the risk of sounding like a broken record This is how History should be written Fluid, Concise and Real And empathetic to the story and people it covers not written from a distance which I believe how almost all accounts of the events of 1857 previously have been Mr Dalrymple is a guy who is fond of Delhi, and that just shows through on each and every page Writing this book meant something to him, and that honesty and genuineness shows throughout There are flaws for sure, and in my humble capacity, I would duly point them out But just for that genuineness, hats off.To the book itself then As mentioned in the introduction itself, its not merely a biographical account of The last mughal emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, but its a biography of Delhi, in and around the times of 1857 with our emperor being the central focus, but clearly one among many in an ensemble cast Wouldn t take a rocket scientist to figure that the book is prima facie divided into three parts first focuses on the event leading up to the mutiny, i.e religious, political, social, cultural and economic causes part two focuses on the period that Delhi was under the control of Sepoys, with Zafar as the nominal emperor and leader, and until when the British recapture the city part three focuses on British retribution in the aftermath, and the horrendous treatment meted out to the people, and the city of Delhi itselfThe third part I believe is the most inconsequential in the larger scheme of things, but the most heart breaking one too The atrocities committed by the British and we find at length descriptions of these , and the sufferings of the people highlight one thing above everything else That the moral leadership that West has claimed for decades, rests on grounds shakier than shifting sands of Timbuktu And this does not include the physical, cultural damage that they did to the city in robbing people like me of our architectural heritage Officers of the company, members of the British community in Delhi gleefully recorded how monument after monument was robber, looted or plainly pulled down to destroy what was once a beautiful city Over the years the West has found time, in its collective conscience, to rue the fate of cities like Dresden, Caen and others that were destroyed during the second world war and remnants of a medieval past that were lost because of it No such tears were ever shed for Delhi But we are not here for British bashing, that can happen maybe someday later.The first part is fairly interesting I personally always thought that religion was as much a driving force as the economic hardships were But as this, and another book that I read earlier this year point out, that perhaps religious motivations were the biggest drivers behind the great uprising It also charts out how Mughal power declined in the first half of 19th century, which eventually led to the decisions that Zafar made, sealing the fate of Delhi in 1857 This part in general is an interesting insight into a world that was lost and forgotten after 1857 when a fair amount of Brits intermingled and lived with Delhi ites, primarily the elite of the Mughal court again, a nominal authority by that time , when mushairas and ghazals and Ghalib were all real, and not stuff of urban legend that we sometimes intriguingly look back to.But it is the second part of this book, which occupies most of the story, and is the most startling in its revelations Personally speaking, and I believe it goes for most people none of us believe history to be as black and white as it was taught in the school books But if we were told that the 1857 uprising was a war for independence, then we tend to believe that yes, it was To what extent, we might question it but we would not question the veracity of the fact itself What this book on the other hand tells us is, and quite unequivocally, that it wasn t a war for independence Ypu d really have to use your imagination if you have to call it one definitely in the context of things that happened in India s current capital The reasons why men picked up arms could not possible have been varied a game of thrones for a throne that did not matter any, Jihad elsewhere against Christian Kafirs, and then the Sepoys fighting as much against economic exploitation as much against religious persecution that Muslims too were fighting against And there were also those Indians, not British whose sole intention was to profit from the ensuing anarchy They sat on the fence as long as they could, while others went a step ahead and actively helped the british That, in essence, is the story of our first war of independence And amidst all this was Bahadur Shah II, pen name Zafar the eighty year old monarch of a once great dynasty that had lost everything For an old man, you feel bad for him but you can see that the world had already moved far ahead, and that no matter which side he backed, he and his family were bound to lose I suppose giving linear narratives to history is almost comforting to some people, for whom its not easy to digest that motives could have been complex, and ulterior in a lot of cases self serving, and not for the benefit of the country But such is our history, and I personally find it liberating to know how things really were, instead of living in a bubble.PS This is kind of a first draft of the review It s a bit too extensive right now, and does not give voice to all my thoughts will take a second pass and making this a little coherent soon.

  5. says:

    Author William Dalrymple Publishers Penguin Viking Published In 2006 Price Rs 695 Pages 586 Genre Historical BY Sandhya Iyer Last glow of light Being fairly intrigued by Mughal history, Dalrymple has always been one author whose books I ve wanted to read I missed out on his White Mughals but got an opportunity to read The Last Mughal and must say, it turned out to be every bit the rich, luxuriant and fascinating experience I imagined it to be I must confess here that I have no problems with a Westerner writing about Indian history I say it because this seems to be everyone s pet peeve against Dalrymple Now, as long as the author approaches his subject with honesty and doesn t adopt a patronizing tone, as the likes of V S Naipaul, E M Forster so often do, it s really fine by me And as I see it, this author is not really guilty of any of the above charges Having read the book, I will say that this is undoubtedly one of the most interesting, informative and entertaining works on Mughal history No other book probably has approached the 1857 revolt and the disastrous impact it had on a culturally thriving Delhi, the way Dalrymple has in The Last Mughal Besides the fact that it extensively covers and nostalgically looks back on the wonderful city that Delhi was in the 1850s and 60s under the rule of its benign, tolerant and pluralistic Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar, it gives in depth sketches of the prevailing British officers of the time Importantly, it directs our attention to several of our presend day issues and attitudes, a direct result of our legacy That there s a wealth of historical information to be derived out of this book is a given, but truly astonishing is also Dalrymple s ability to weave in so many cobwebs of events and characters with such clarity Not to add, his meticulous, hypnotic attention to detail, with some of the passages sparkling like pure gems much like the Mughal arts he describes in his book The story begins in the early 1850s, a time when Delhi s political fortunes had started to plummet The Britishers were fast spreading their tentacles and tightening their hold over the Mughals The bonhomie that existed between the Bitishers and Muslims in the city was starting to wane and Victoria s men were under no obligation to please the Emperor any In fact, the king, Zafar Bahadur was rendered powerless now Yet, for all its political decline, the city s reputation as a centre of learning, culture and spirituality had rarely been higher The peace gets disrupted when rebel sepoys from Meerut mainly and some other regiments request Zafar to support them in their fight against the Britishers As history tells us and the recent Bollywood film, Mangal Pandey showed, there was discontent brewing among sepoys of North west provinces Dalrymple records this in detail and abundantly agrees that Victorian Evangelicals had indeed been speeding up their plans to convert Hindus and Muslims While the sepoys were disgruntled about their low salaries among many other things, it was the issue of religion that really sparked off the revolt Now, coming to a point I ve always reiterated Mangal Pandey was no icon of the 1857 revolt and the book not only succinctly states that, it adequately proves it Zafar, already in his 80s, clearly had no real say in whether to support the sepoys against the Britishers or not But in the end, he lend his tacit support to the rebels and what followed was one of the bloodiest massacres witnessed in Delhi, with Englishmen being pulled out of their homes and killed mercilessly by the sepoys and jehadis Retribution follows and the Britishers swear to take revenge and destroy everything the city stands for Can t put the whole review here for lack of space but if you re still keen, you could read my long ass review on sandyi.blogspot.com

  6. says:

    He was the last king of the Mughal dynasty,but Bahadur Shah Zafar was a king in name only,one left with just a title and confined to Delhi by the real rulers of India at the time,the British.William Dalrymple s book is an in depth look at a turbulent era of Indian history,which included the unsuccessful War of Independence of 1857 known to the British as the Indian Mutiny.For me,the most poignant part of the book was the account of Bahadur Shah Zafar s exile to Burma,where the last Mughal breathed his last and penned some immortal verse about the pain of exile.He was buried anonymously and his grave was discovered decades later.Well written and painstakingly researched.

  7. says:

    Against this bleak dualism, there is much to value in Zafar s peaceful and tolerant attitude to life and there is also much to regret in the way that the British swept away and rooted out the late Mughals pluralistic and philosophically composite civilisation.It ll be a while before I get over the emotional trauma bore by my conscience to be able to write a befitting review.

  8. says:

    On a hazy November afternoon in Rangoon, 1862, a shrouded corpse was escorted by a small group of British soldiers to an anonymous grave in a prison enclosure As the British Commissioner in charge insisted, No vestige will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, an accomplished poet and a skilled calligrapher But while his Mughal ancestors had controlled most of India, the aged Zafar was king in name only Deprived of real political power by the East India Company, he nevertheless succeeded in creating a court of great brilliance, and presided over one of the great cultural renaissances of Indian history.Then, in 1857, Zafar gave his blessing to a rebellion among the Company s own Indian troops, thereby transforming an army mutiny into the largest uprising any empire had to face in the entire course of the nineteenth century The Siege of Delhi was the Raj s Stalingrad one of the most horrific events in the history of Empire, in which thousands on both sides died And when the British took the city securing their hold on the subcontinent for the next ninety years tens of thousands Indians were executed, including all but two of Zafar s sixteen sons By the end of the four month siege, Delhi was reduced to a battered, empty ruin, and Zafar was sentenced to exile in Burma There he died, the last Mughal ruler in a line that stretched back to the sixteenth century.Award winning historian and travel writer William Dalrymple shapes his powerful retelling of this fateful course of events from the groundbreaking material previously unexamined Urdu and Persian manuscripts that include Indian eyewitness accounts and records of the Delhi courts, police and administration during the siege The Last Mughal is a revelatory work the first to present the Indian perspective on the fall of Delhi and has as its heart both the dazzling capital personified by Zafar and the stories of the individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history.History written by Britons has not been kind to Bahadur Shah II, even though he was the last of the Mughal emperors of India, a descendant of both Genghis Khan and Timur the Great Marlowe s Tamburlaine , among others who are much better remembered He has rarely rated than a paragraph or two, sometimes only one sentence, and as often as not has been referred to merely as the King of Delhi which is rather like describing the Pope as the Bishop of Rome in order to diminish him But now William Dalrymple has magnificently rescued him from near anonymity, and in doing so has greatly increased our understanding of what went on in the old Mughal capital at the time of the Indian mutiny.The last emperor was also known to his familiars as Zafar the pen name he used when writing poetry a word which means victory and which could scarcely have been less appropriate, given that it was attached to one of history s great losers For he died five years after the mutiny, in faraway Burma, a frail 87 year old who was spoon fed on broth by the handful of family and retainers he had been allowed to take with him into exile He had been banished not so much for what he did during the mutiny as for what he represented to the mutineers Hindus as well as Muslims who regarded him as the touchstone of an old and deeply rooted way of life which the Victorian Evangelicals, who dominated the making and execution of British policy, were determined to replace with the prejudices and habits of muscular Christianity To them, it was vital that Zafar should be put down, precisely because, having a Hindu mother, he appealed to both sides of India s own great religious division.Delhi, however, was a profoundly Muslim city at this time, unlike Lucknow, Calcutta and other centres that had found certain western habits attractive and were beginning to evolve into multicultural cities The capital was therefore regarded with particular enmity by people such as the Rev Midgeley John Jennings, who wrote Within its walls, the pride of life, the lust of the eye and all the lusts of the flesh have reigned and revealed to the full, and all the glories of the Kingdoms of this portion of the earth have passed from one wicked possessor to another As Dalrymple depressingly notes, such caricatures are still circulating in the western anathemas of Islamic societies today No longer were Britain s Indian policies in the 1850s conducted by the likes of Warren Hastings and William Jones, who understood and respected Indian values and traditions Instead, this steady crescendo of insensitivity on the part of people like Jennings and their governing superiors was directly responsible for the mutiny the gaffe and it was no than that of the greased cartridges was simply the last straw for the already resentful sepoys who mutinied If the army had followed its instructions that goat or mutton fat would not offend the religious susceptibilities of either Hindu or Muslim soldiers, but that on no account must either beef or pork fat is used there would have been no problem.The worst charge that could be laid against Zafar, in fact, was his indecisiveness, which plagued him in his domestic life as well as in the hazardous area of interracial politics His crucial mistake was to give his blessing to the sepoys, but only after they had persistently harassed him and or less taken over his palace until he gave in to their demands Within days, as the British residents of Delhi fled for their lives, Zafar gave his protection to 40 odd of those who had been captured when they tried to escape Some might see this as a hedging of bets, but it was, in truth, the reflex of a lifelong ditherer and that is not the stuff of which rebel leaders are made.He had earlier insisted on retaining his doctor after the man had converted to Christianity, in spite of pressure from Muslim courtiers to sack him A British surgeon who attended Zafar in his captivity said His countenance gave no sign of cruelty, but appeared mild WH Russell, the celebrated correspondent of the Times, wrote of a dim, wandering eyed, dreamy old man with a feeble hanging nether lip and toothless gums , who was being sick in a basin when the journalist entered his room I could not help thinking, as I looked at the old man, that our rulers were somewhat to blame for the crimes he had committed There was savagery on all sides in 1857, while at home Lord Palmerston wanted to see Delhi deleted from the map in reprisal for what had happened there Atrocities against the British were also committed at Kanpur, where women and children were butchered without mercy, too, which guaranteed the appalling retribution that followed when the rebellion was put down John Nicholson, who became a cult figure among his native troops they thought he was an incarnation of Vishnu and his fellow countrymen, proposed a bill for the flaying alive, impalement or burning of the murderers of the British women and children of Delhi and one of his soldiers a Quaker, no less habitually bayonetted sepoys while chanting Psalm 116 That s the one that begins I am well pleased that the Lord hath heard the voice of my prayer.Dalrymple has here written an account of the Indian mutiny such as we have never had before, of the events leading up to it and of its aftermath, seen through the prism of the last emperor s life He has vividly described the street life of the Mughal capital in the days before the catastrophe happened, he has put his finger deftly on every crucial point in the story, which earlier historians have sometimes missed, and he has supplied some of the most informative footnotes I have ever read On top of that, he has splendidly conveyed the sheer joy of researching a piece of history, something every true historian knows, telling of his elation at discovering in Burma s national archives all Zafar s prison records, stored in Acrobat PDF files something the British Library has so far failed to achieve.Dalrymple lets the characters tell their own tales a 12 year old Muslim nobleman who watched the defeated Indian mutineers and conquering British vying with each other as to which should carry the day in pillage or robbery a functionary in Zafar s court with the wonderful title of Keeper of the Dynastic Fish Standard of the Mughals and a poet who saw that the mutiny was only empowering the uneducated Indian soldiers to wipe out his humanist class, as the moon is engulfed by the eclipse As for the British, Dalrymple focuses on a few whose emotional transformations are the most idiosyncratic the gregarious son of a poisoned British official is driven to homicidal rage in the battle to retake Delhi the editor of the city s English language daily becomes the leading voice in the movement to raze the capital the wife of a senior British officer gives birth during her harrowing escape yet, almost alone among the participants, retains her sanity and humanity.Sanity, alas, is not Zafar s strong suit, at least not by the time he flees the city, only to dither on its outskirts and take refuge in the tomb of an ancestor, Humayun This is fitting, as Humayun, the second Mughal emperor, was also suited to poetry than politics and also lost his throne, regaining it just in time to pass it along to his remarkable son Akbar in 1556 No such fortune awaited Zafar he was arrested, given a kangaroo trial and exiled to Burma What blame does he deserve for the bloody fiasco Dalrymple feels it is difficult to see what Zafar could have done, but the details he has so painstakingly assembled tend to undermine such sympathies.Consider two events in the mutiny s first week On May 14, upset that some Indian soldiers were defiling a beloved garden, he began refusing audience to all This was a threat to withdraw his imprimatur from their rebellion, and the mutineers moved on Two days later, when the rebels discovered 52 Europeans Zafar had hidden in the palace, the emperor wept and besought the mutineers not to take the lives of helpless women and children, but stepped aside as the executioners went to work.At the pivotal moment of his doomed reign, Zafar concentrated not on his role as a leader of men or on the sparing of innocent lives, but rather on his flowers Deep in their tombs, one suspects, Humayun sympathized, Aurangzeb scoffed and Genghis Khan wept silent tears.

  9. says:

    Wow A great book The sort of book that makes you want to read another three or four other books on the same topic, except you know that there are probably not another three or four books that are equal in both scholarship and entertainment value.As the author himself says, it is astonishing that there was an avalanche of fascinating primary source materials petitions, letters of complaint, official reports, etc about the 1857 uprising of the people of India against their colonial masters, all sitting unexamined in official Indian archives until the author came upon them in the early 2000s Apparently a lot of it was on little slips of paper in difficult to decipher handwritten Urdu and Hindi, which proved sufficiently off putting to the weak of heart and eyesight, especially when you could just as easily attain publication and or maintain tenure by foregoing original research and simply peppering your work with words like deconstructing , othering , gendering , and similar gerunds.In any case, the author mined these and other documents for thousands of fascinating details Animated with these glimpses of real life, the narrative gallops along nicely throughout Those of tender sensibility may be put off by the seemingly endless episodes of slaughter, first by the enraged colonized and by the vengeful colonizers But that is what happened.I scored an old school hardcover version of this book from my library I strongly recommend consuming The Last Mughal in hardcover form if you can possibly help it It s one of those books you flip back and forth through, with frequent visits to the glossary and endnotes, but also sometimes taking a break from the main narrative to look at the fascinating photos and reproductions of paintings, and did I mention the maps Sometimes trips to the glossary are less than 100% rewarding For example, you may run across a sentence like He stabbed him with his unknown Anglo Indian word Reach for your bookmark Mark your place Flip to the glossary Find word Definition A kind of Indian ceremonial knife Since you can guess from context that he did not stab his opponent with, say, a piece of statuary, you may end up asking yourself Was this trip necessary In our current environment, this book is also interesting because it shows what happens when a society moves from tolerant to less tolerant Apparently, the previous generation of British colonials so the author maintains were comparatively enthusiastic about learning and even adopting local habits and customs, sometimes to the point of inter marriage The generation that ended up being slaughtered and subsequently slaughtering in this book possessed a sense of cultural superiority and drive to religious conversion that led them both to astonishing examples of cultural insensitivity and to an inability to read the warning signs of trouble when they saw it From the last paragraph of this book nothing threatens the liberal and moderate aspects of Islam so much as aggressive Western intrusion and interference in the East, just as nothing so dramatically radicalises the ordinary Muslim and feeds the power of extremists This is a book which is at the same time a fat dense read but also a fast and entertaining one, so it gets very highly recommended especially for those of us who never really got the chance to study this fascinating historical episode during our inadequate schooling.

  10. says:

    The further backward you look.the further forward you can see This is what Sir Winston Churchill said when talking about the relevance of history to one s current circumstance.I cannot help but recall these words, after reading William Dalrymple s brilliant The Last Mughal.William Dalrymple s latest book uses Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last emperor of the Mughal dynasty, to recreate the vibrant city of Delhi, in the 1850 s A culturally diverse, almost cosmopolitan city, of which Bahadur Shah Zafar, was the mere figurehead A city which epitomized,the India of the Mughals, where the Hindus and Muslims co existed peacefully In fact a rich culture and social fabric existed due to this pluralistic co existence.The mutiny of 1857 proved to be the fall of the Mughal Dynasty, and the end of this vibrant way of life.Dalrymple, researched this book for over 4 years and accessed sources, which were until now, never used to narrate the history of those seminal times The Mutiny Papers , which were found on the shelves of National Archives of India, detailed through great unwieldy mountains of chits, pleas, orders, petitions, complaints, receipts, rolls of attendance and lists of casualtiesnotes from spies of dubious reliability and letters from eloping lovers , a very uniquely Indian point of view and perspective An important voice, which until now has been missing in the retelling of the Sepoys Mutiny.For me as an Indian, it is very important to understand this point of view To know about my true cultural heritage, about strands of my identity which were sundered by the British, along their in famous Divide and Rule policy.Consider this, most of the history books, have been written by the British in some formso the opinions I have formed, and the perspectives I have, have been developed by the British outlook and essentially the Victorian take on history.I think, India as a society is richer due to the Mughals and despite the popular opinion and recorded history who wrote it, you guessed it rightthe British , they went out of their way to ensure a secular society and a safe environment, for Hindu religion, culture and arts to flourish In fact as mentioned in the book, the only thing Zafar was decisive about in those trying times was his refusal to alienate his Hindu subjects by subscribing to the demands of the jihadis Did you know for instance that most of the Indian intellectuals of the late 19th century and the early 20th century, were schooled in madrassas, including people like Raja Rammohan RoyThe madrassas, were considered to provide well rounded education, not just math and science, but also the humanities, eastern philosophy and the artsit was only due to the rising influence of Christianity in India, in the late 19th century and the drive for conversions, which lead the madrassas to reinforce the study of Islam in their curriculum, and for them to increasingly move along the path of fundamentalism.It is due to all this and also because of an extremely evocative account of 1857 skirmishes, that this book is a must read.You owe it yourself, as a citizen of the world, living in a these troubled times terrorized by religious fundamentalism.As Sir Churchill, prophesied, it will only help us look further forward.

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