William Dalrymple is the author of seven previous works of history and travel, including City of Djinns, which won the Young British Writer of the Year Prize and the Thomas Cook Travel Book Award; and From the Holy Mountain; White Mughals, which won Britain's Wolfson History Prize. He is a contributor to The New York Review of Books and The New Yorker. He divides his time between New Delhi and London.
In time for the 150th anniversary of the Great Mutiny, the uprising that came close to toppling British rule in India, Dalrymple presents a brilliant, evocative exploration of a doomed world and its final emperor, Bahadur Shah II, descendant of Genghis Khan and Tamerlane. Bahadur, more familiarly known as Zafar, was a reluctant revolutionary: the mutinous sepoys who had murdered every Christian in Delhi proclaimed him their commander, an honor he hadn't sought. British besiegers took the capital in September 1857, followed by massacre, purges and destruction. Zafar died five years later in penury and exile. Dalrymple (White Mughals), however, is primarily concerned with compiling "a portrait of the Delhi he [Zafar] personified, a narrative of the last days of the Mughal capital and its final destruction." In this task, he has been immeasurably aided by his discovery of a colossal trove of documents in Indian national archives in Delhi and elsewhere. Thanks to them Dalrymple can vividly recreate, virtually at street level, the life and death of one of the most glorious and progressive empires ever seen. That the rebels fatefully raised the flag of jihad and dubbed themselves "mujahedin" only adds to the mutiny's contemporary relevance. 24 pages of illus., 16 in color; 2 maps. History Book Club featured selection. (Apr. 1) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.
"A compulsively readable masterpiece. . . . Every chapter of The Last Mughal has historical echoes that are still desperately relevant today." --The New York Review of Books "Deeply researched and beautifully written. . . . A poignant account of the events of 1857 in Delhi." --The Nation"There is so much to admire in this book - the depth of historical research, the finely evocative writing, the extraordinary rapport with the cultural world of late Mughal India. It is also in many ways a remarkably humane and egalitarian history . . . This is a splendid work of empathetic scholarship." --David Arnold, Times Literary Supplement