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Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire Audio CD – Audiobook, CD

4.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Product details

  • Audio CD
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audiobooks; Unabridged edition (3 April 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078616901X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0786169016
  • Product Dimensions: 15.5 x 3 x 17.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Review

"Like The Complete Taj Mahal by Ebba Koch [BKL Ja 1 & 15 07], an illustrated album by a conservator of the complex, the Prestons' history both discusses architecture and presents biographies of its entombed builder and wife. Said to immortalize the love of Shah Jahan and his consort, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal also announced the wealth and taste of the monarch able to commission such exquisite magnificence. The authors anchor the Taj' s origin in that of the Mogul Empire, of which Shah Jahan was the fifth ruler (1627- 58). They discuss the Taj Mahal' s ancestry in Islamic funereal architecture amid a narrative of harem customs and dynastic politics of the Mogul Empire. The latter tended toward the lethal, and the travails of Jahan and Mumtaz in obtaining the throne may have closely bonded the two. The Prestons carry off this view of the Taj Mahal' s inspiration with judicious erudition and limpid clarity, traits their audience has come to expect and which are on full display in this portrait." - - Gilbert Taylor, "Booklist""" "Taj Mahal is the title of the latest offering by Oxford historians Diana and Michael Preston. In it they chronicle the blood, sweat, emotions, expenditure and history behind the construction of the world's most famous mausoleum. Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel."--Bharti Kirchner, "The Seattle Times"

Praise for "Taj Mahal:


""Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel."--"Seattle Times


""This history breaks through the legendary facade to reveal a powerful backstory."--"Publishers Weekly


""In describing the Moghul Empire, the Prestons tell tales of Sunni and Shiite tensions; battles that are won by bribery as much as by force; and religious and clan wars that sweep from Kandahar to Kabul to Kashmir."--"San Diego Union-Tribune"

Praise for "Taj Mahal:

""Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel."--"Seattle Times

""This history breaks through the legendary facade to reveal a powerful backstory."--"Publishers Weekly

""In describing the Moghul Empire, the Prestons tell tales of Sunni and Shiite tensions; battles that are won by bribery as much as by force; and religious and clan wars that sweep from Kandahar to Kabul to Kashmir."--"San Diego Union-Tribune"

Praise for "Taj Mahal:

"“Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel.”—"Seattle Times

"“This history breaks through the legendary facade to reveal a powerful backstory.”—"Publishers Weekly

"“In describing the Moghul Empire, the Prestons tell tales of Sunni and Shiite tensions; battles that are won by bribery as much as by force; and religious and clan wars that sweep from Kandahar to Kabul to Kashmir.”—"San Diego Union-Tribune"

"

""Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel."--"Seattle Times

""This history breaks through the legendary facade to reveal a powerful backstory."--"Publishers Weekly

""In describing the Moghul Empire, the Prestons tell tales of Sunni and Shiite tensions; battles that are won by bribery as much as by force; and religious and clan wars that sweep from Kandahar to Kabul to Kashmir."--"San Diego Union-Tribune"

Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel. "Seattle Times"

This history breaks through the legendary facade to reveal a powerful backstory. "Publishers Weekly"

In describing the Moghul Empire, the Prestons tell tales of Sunni and Shiite tensions; battles that are won by bribery as much as by force; and religious and clan wars that sweep from Kandahar to Kabul to Kashmir. "San Diego Union-Tribune""

"Filled with quotes, anecdotes and evocative prose, this true tale has, at times, the texture of a historical novel." --Seattle Times

"This history breaks through the legendary facade to reveal a powerful backstory." --Publishers Weekly

"In describing the Moghul Empire, the Prestons tell tales of Sunni and Shiite tensions; battles that are won by bribery as much as by force; and religious and clan wars that sweep from Kandahar to Kabul to Kashmir." --San Diego Union-Tribune

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

Diana and Michael Preston are Oxford-trained historians who live in London, England. Diana is the author of A First Rate Tragedy, The Boxer Rebellion, Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy, and Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima, which won the 2006 Los Angeles Times prize for Science & Technology. She and Michael coauthored A Pirate of Exquisite Mind, a biography of the great seventeenth-century adventurer William Dampier. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thoroughly enjoyed this book it gave me a great insight into the age of moguls
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program)

Amazon.com: 4.5 out of 5 stars 11 reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Taj delivers 19 April 2015
By Fred P. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
. A splendid little book. Not just about the famous monument, but a complete and concise history of the Moghuls from Babur to Aurangzeb. That provides the setting for a more detailed account of the lives of Shah Jehan and Mumtaz. Full of anecdotal detail from the memoirs of British and Venetian visitors to the Moghul court. The usual fallout with Jahangir and a period of rebellion, but a proven effective general in Deccan wars as well as a connoisseur of fine arts. Probably kills his most competitive brother Khusrau. Is consistently beaten by his father’s armies during the rebellion and has to make amends. Then outlives all the competition against the machinations of step-mother and mother in law (all in one) Nur. Fights numerous campaigns afterwards, always taking the empress with him – and she dies in her late 30’s after a 12th pregnancy. Then the massive tomb project. Surprisingly little on the actual architectural details, although a reasonably clear idea of the layout. Most detail related to the elaborate inlays of calligraphy and flowers. These are not normally prominent in the panoramic photos of the shrine. Daughter Jahanara becomes the focus of his life afterwards. The last Moghul years seen as decay of the whole empire as it descends into corruption and inefficiency – the income being tripled, but the spending quadruples, while Aurangzeb adopts a rigorous Islamic policy that alienates his allies and subjects. Court favorites rewarded sumptuous salaries and no investment or encouragement of new enterprise. So the architecture remains but the last days of the reign were a sad sequel. Ends the book with an examination of several important issues. Refutes any western influence on the plan. Suggests SJ may have intended a separate but matching black marble tomb across the river in the Mahtab Bagh garden, but was unceremoniously stuck into the Taj by his ungrateful son. But that garden across the river seems to form a symmetrical plan with the grounds of the Taj, and the author contends that must have been an integral part of the artistic plan. The book certainly enhanced my appreciation of the Taj on a recent visit.
4.0 out of 5 stars Taj Mahal : An Empire of Beauty and Blood 14 Feb. 2011
By Michael Griswold - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Taj Mahal by Diana Preston depicts the Taj Mahal as this breathtakingly beautiful tribute to a great love between Shah Jahan, the Mogul emperor and his wife Mumtaz Mahul, who died during childbirth. Although Preston labors for entire chapters over the beauty of the Taj Mahul and the love these two people shared, the rest of the book is dedicated to illustrating the barbaric inter-family brutality and lust for power that eventually led to the downfall of Mogul rule. For the many advancements and achievements credited to the Mogul empires under the Jahan line from beautiful architecture to advances in mathematics and education, the empire itself is tainted beyond repair because the quest to get and hold land and power proved all consuming, pitting fathers and sons against one another and even in one case a scheming female against the Shah. This culture of war depleted the Mogul strength and eventually made them ripe for conquest. Fans of architecture will love it for the vivid descriptions of the Taj's picturesque beauty and fans of an intriguing story will love the dynamic story of family betrayals and loyalties unfolding as an empire hangs in the balance.
5.0 out of 5 stars Unique, enduring story 13 April 2015
By Tom Burke - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Fascinating little history of the Mughals and of the devotion between Sha Jahan and Mumtaz. I got that book for my daughter, and she was so intrigued by the story she visited India, mainly to see the Taj Mahal.
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars 21 April 2016
By Irma Chavez - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading this book before I went to India.
36 of 37 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Caveat Emptor: Only 1/4th Focuses on the Taj Mahal Complex 25 Mar. 2007
By Barbara Evans - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Although the Prestons' book is well written, only a portion of it delivers what its title and cover seem to promise. This, of course, you will quickly discover if you have a copy to preview. If you don't, you should know that much of the book focuses on the struggles to gain/keep territory and the throne over the course of almost two centuries and six shahs. There is also much information about various shahs' idiosyncrasies and addictions, their strengths and weaknesses as leaders, and the customs of their courts and harems. What 3/4ths of the Prestons' book is really about, in fact, was equally well covered in the aptly titled A Brief History of the Great Moghuls, reprinted in 2002.

It is difficult to rate the approximately 60 pages of text in the Prestons' book that do focus on the Taj complex, including its antecedents, the people directly involved in its construction, its ornamentation, the toll time has taken on it, and a chapter on the theory that Shah Jahan had planned a different mausoleum for himself. Those who are reading about the complex in depth for the first time will likely find the material interesting; those who have read other books on the subject are unlikely to find much that is new.

Unfortunately, it is not at all difficult to rate the 23 snapshots of the Taj complex and related funerary architecture in this book. First, most are small, grainy black and grays that reveal little more than general outlines. Second, even the seven in color (four of them small ones of interior details) are taken from too great a distance to reveal technical brilliance or artistry. That only the cover and another mood shot of the mausoleum appear to be the work of a professional is a major weakness in a book that purports to be about the genius of the Taj Mahal, for only superb photography can truly convey much of it. As for drawings to illuminate structural detail, the only two merely shade in an arch and a vault.

For the reasons noted above and more, if you are interested in India's national treasure, you will do yourself a great favor if, before deciding on the Prestons' book, you investigate the following: 1) Okada, Joshi & Nou's Taj Mahal (1993), a visually stunning and informative book and 2) E. Koch's The Complete Taj Mahal (2006), a TEN-STAR BOOK that "should be in the library of anyone fascinated by the Taj Mahal, not just historians and architects." (Incidentally, that the Prestons' bookcover is almost identical to Koch's does not make their book comparable to hers.)
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