Shop now Shop now Shop now Shop All Amazon Fashion Up to 70% off Fashion Cloud Drive Photos Shop now Shop Amazon Fire TV Shop now Shop Fire HD 6 Learn More Shop now Shop now Shop now

Customer Reviews

103
4.4 out of 5 stars
The Last Mughal: The Fall of Delhi, 1857
Format: PaperbackChange
Price:£9.74+Free shipping with Amazon Prime
Your rating(Clear)Rate this item


There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.

100 of 104 people found the following review helpful
on 12 November 2006
This is an astounding read; William Dalrymple at his finest and strongest. Drawing upon a wealth of previously unpublished material from the Indian National Archive, Dalrymple presents the Indian Mutiny of 1857, the events leading up to it, and its aftermath with unprecedented breadth. The subject has been deeply researched and there are extensive, informative, footnotes throughout. For students of the period this book should be mandatory reading. But part of its brilliance is that this book is, for the general reader, a highly accessible read - the narrative flows and moves at a gripping pace. The story is a tribute to the civilians of Delhi, caught like proverbial grains of wheat between the giant millstones of the opposing factions. Whilst it relates to events of 150 years ago powerful contemporary messages are reinforced. That racial and religious intolerance and bigotry serve to spawn extremism and "self righteous hysteria".
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
48 of 50 people found the following review helpful
on 27 October 2006
Written with erudition and a flowing style, William Dalrymple conjures up the spectacle of Mughal Delhi in its twilight superbly.

William Dalrymple's painstaking research brings to a wider view, documents and first-hand accounts from Indian and Pakistani sources (including the last Emperor's) which have not been acknowledged by Western historians before. The resulting story captures the grand sweep of events spiced with vignettes about each of the key personalities and testaments to their characters - quite apart from being an enthralling read it could convert into a great film.

The Last Mughal cannot be recommended too highly - it's a superb piece of a scholarship from a writer who has a strong feeling for for India's past and present. It tells of the events which created modern India and neatly dovetails these with the pressures it faces today.

A superb book from a superb writer.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
39 of 41 people found the following review helpful
on 16 October 2012
Dalrymple has written an excellent account of the last days of the Moghul dynasty and the failed Indian Revolutionary War of 1857. The once great Moghul Empire of India had been slowly dying over a period of 150 years or so, plagued first of all by rebellious subjects such as the Marathas in the west and the Sikhs in the North who had never truly accepted the rule of the Moghuls from Delhi, and then in later years by the colonial trading empires of the French and British. By the mid-nineteenth century, almost the whole of India was either ruled directly by the British East India company or by local rulers who were subject to British authority. The last Moghul Emperor, Bahadur Shah (referred to as "Zafar" by Dalrymple) was no more than a ceremonial ruler whose remit barely extended beyond the immediate neighbourhood of his magnificent palace, the Red Fort in Delhi. Dalrymple gives a wonderful description of this dying, exotic society - full of artists, poets (Zafar himself was an accomplished Urdu poet and teacher), a society which had bewitched the first generations of British settlers, many of whom had "gone native" in a spectacular fashion - adopting Moghul dress and customs, taking multiple Indian women as wives, and fathering numerous Anglo-Indian children. Suddenly into this exotic idyll was tossed the rebellion of 1857. The author describes in vivid detail the sudden arrival in Delhi of thousands of mutinous Indian soldiers or sepoys, their brutal massacre of of any Europeans in the city (including men, women and children) and their proclamation of the restoration of the old Moghul Empire. He then describes the inevitable British counterattack, the siege of Delhi and the terrible British vengeance - the virtual annihilation of the city, the destruction of much of its architecture, the almost complete elimination of that old courtly Moghul society. The author has done a great deal of research in the old Delhi archives, unearthing many first hand accounts , particularly of the British destruction of the city - possibly the darkest episode in the history of the British army. It certainly makes one appreciate such developments as the Geneva convention. I have one criticism and that is the author's determination to place the blame for what happened firmly on the shoulders of British evangelical Christianity. The revolt was unquestionably the result of the bullet issue and the subsequent heavy handed response to the initial complaints and unrest. The high-handed and arrogant attitudes of the British in gradually taking over the running of this great and proud nation through the cuckoos nest antics of the East India company would also have contributed. The lack of the virtues of forgiveness and compassion in many of the nominally Christian British military leaders is also startling. But to blame a few enthusiastic missionaries for the whole affair seems to smack more of Dalrymple's modern liberal prejudices than of what was most people's perception at the time. I think he has also over-played his nostalgia for the wonders of the Moghul court and society. There was toleration of different religions and customs, but this tolerance also extended to practices such as the suttee, and for the less well off, no doubt, as in most societies of the time, life was nasty, brutish and short.
55 commentsWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 22 October 2007
This is a very good book. If you're interested in Delhi, the Mughals, Britain's rule of India, the history of faith in India, or the first war of Indian Independence / Indian Mutiny this is a must read. A tour de force, it's a book of such breadth and learning, illuminating so many aspects of the period that it leaves you with a sense of the inadequacy of other `history' books you've read. A book of unimpeachable research, at the heart of which is the author's own imagination and his ability to inhabit the world he describes. Dalrymple doesn't hold back from describing the crimes of an Empire, in this case Britain's, but these are put in their social and historical context, so while not being excused they are explained. You think of the crimes still being committed wherever one group of people has power or control over another. I think William Dalrymple would like nothing more than to spend an afternoon with Zafar II, strolling through his mango trees, discussing faith and the beauty of verse. This book gives a sense of what that experience would be like and once you've read it, you'll understand why that stroll would be such a pleasure.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on 12 May 2009
Excellent book, recounting the last years of the Last Mughal emperor, Bahadur Shah.
As the British were responsible for actually putting down the rebellion & sending this elderly emperor into exile; it is sad to be British & learn of the colonial practices.
However, the book is clear in outlining the clash of the two cultures: Colonial British & Indian Mughal/Hindu that led to the uprising & how the Mughal dynasty was sucked into supporting the rebels, as thier way of life was seen to be under threat.
A good read & I recommend it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
I have just finished this book, I enjoyed every page thoroughly. Do not be put off by the size of this book, I finished it too soon. William Dalrymple has a tremendous knowledge of his subject and a real sympathy for the people of Delhi. This history is highly scolarly yet a real page turner, there is humour as well as horror. If you liked this apart from Dalrymple's other books 'The Moghul Throne' by Abraham Eraly is a great book too (another reviewer has made this recommendation, I second it).
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on 8 February 2007
What a book! I couldn't put it down. An excellent story, true as well, about the time of the last emperor of one of the greatest empire in Indian history. It also exposes the injustice carried out by both the mutineers of Indian army at that time and the East India Company, or army of the British Empire at that time. The author even compares how unresolved feelings then lead to hatred and extremism against the occupiers which is now seen to have given birth to movements like the "Taliban". There are two completely different yet parallel running aspects of this book: One, an excellent true story of what was happening around the fall of the great empire in 1850s (which itself is very sad)and how it's long term repurcussions can be seen in the neighbouring countries these days. Wish such an excellent book could be translated in to a few of the common Indian/Pakistani languages for the locals to open their eyes to the fact how great and peaceloving their ancestors were and how comfortably Muslims and Hindus lived together not that long ago.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
20 of 22 people found the following review helpful
on 13 May 2007
Dealing with the final destruction of the Mughal dynasty, William Dalrymple's second work to focus on the Mughals continues the themes of the first through a history of the Indian Uprising in Delhi.

In 'White Mughals', we saw the hardening attitude of the British towards Indian and Mughal culture at the turn of the C18th. Fifty years later, again using much by way of new material, we witness wholesale violence and massacre. Delhi is all but destroyed by a British retribution unleashed as part of the response to the Indian Uprising.

The narrative of the Uprising focuses on the fates of the British characters populating the Delhi cantonments and Civil Lines; the hesitant response of Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor; the protracted fighting that prefigured the final fall of Delhi to the British; the different groups within the Mughal camp, including the Jihadis; and the settling of scores between the victors and the vanquished, both in blood and in the trial and final banishment of Zafar.

Thrust centre stage by those leading the Uprising, the weakness of Zafar's position was revealed by ensuing events and ended in the final demise of his dynsasty.

As before, Dalrymple's strong narrative style allows space for a wealth of digression into the cultural life of the time, focussing on both the life of the late Mughal court and the deeply unsettling religious justifications of the christian soldiers who led the British response to the Uprising.

Overall, a strong, balanced and original book - perhaps sparser in tone than White Mughals, in keeping with the harder world with which it deals -of great interest in itself, and very relevant today.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 16 February 2009
This is superb history. I can't quite understand why no-one else in India bothers to use the sources he uncovered. Indian historians have forgotten that they have so many wonderful primary sources - in Urdu as well as English. Just read the preface to the book; William Dalrymple has gone straight to the sources and they are all sitting in Delhi. Good for him and good for the rest of us who read him. Every Indian should read it.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 15 September 2010
Dalrymple has written this book by calling extensively on contemporary English, Persian and Urdu records found recently in official Indian archives. He has therefore been able to present this history from the perspective of those who lived in Delhi at the time, rather than from the traditional British military angle.
Although titled "the Last Mughal" it covers not only the demise of the last Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, and his dynasty, but also the trials and tribulations of the Hindu, Moslem and Christian residents during and following the siege of Delhi begun in 1857. It is graphically written and it illustrates how quickly a society in which many races and religions coexist peacefully and productively (albeit under the yoke of an "occupier", the British) can descend into hatred, killing and blood-thirsty revenge.
Dalrymple uses many Indian terms which often are not directly translatable into English and which add a solid ring of authenticity. For readers who are not familiar with them, they can slow down the reading even though they are defined in a glossary at the back of the book. However, the narrative does flow simply and fluently, and it is easy to build up a good picture of the characters he is writing about (as well as there being some illustrations).
It is a comprehensive record of a turning point in Indian history and is well worth reading.
0CommentWas this review helpful to you?YesNoSending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
     
 
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan
Return of a King: The Battle for Afghanistan by William Dalrymple (Paperback - 30 Jan. 2014)
£7.49


City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi by William Dalrymple (Paperback - 20 Sept. 1999)
£9.98
 
     

Send us feedback

How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you?
Let us know here.