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The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857

 
William Dalrymple (Author)
Synopsis At 4 p.m. 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 should remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests.'  Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, a talented poet, and a skilled calligrapher. But while Zafar's 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, Zafar 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's flourishing capital became the centre of an uprising that reduced his beloved Delhi to a battered, empty ruin. When Zafar gave his blessing to a rebellion among the Company's own Indian troops, it transformed an army mutiny into the largest uprising the British Empire ever had to face. The Siege of Delhi was the Raj's Stalingrad: a fight to the death between two powers, neither of whom could retreat.  The Last Mughal is a portrait of the dazzling Delhi Zafar personified, the story of the last days of the great Mughal capital and its final destruction in the catastrophe of 1857. William Dalrymple's powerful retelling of this fateful course of events is shaped from groundbreaking material: previously untranslated Urdu and Persian manuscripts that include Indian eyewitness accounts, and the records of the Delhi courts, police, and administration during the siege. The Last Mughal is an extraordinary revisionist work with clear contemporary echoes. It is the first account to present the Indian perspective on the siege, and has at its heart the stories of the forgotten individuals tragically caught up in one of the bloodiest upheavals in history.
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About the author

William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of Firth of Forth. He is the author of five books of history and travel, including the highly acclaimed best-seller City of Djinns , which won the 1994 Thomas Cook Travel Book Award and the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award. His previous book, White Mughals, garnered a range of prizes, including the prestigious Wolfson Prize for History 2003 and the Scottish Book of the Year Prize. It was also shortlisted for the PEN History Award, the Kiriyama Prize and the James Tait Black Memorial Prize. A stage version by Christopher Hampton has been co-commissioned by the National Theatre and the Tamasha Theatre Company. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and of the Royal Asiatic Society, Dalrymple was awarded the 2002 Mungo Park Medal by the Royal Scottish Geographical Society for his ‘outstanding contribution to travel literature’ and the Sykes Medal of the Royal Society of Asian Affairs in 2005 for his contribution to the understanding of contemporary Islam. He wrote and presented three television series, Stones of the Raj, Sufi Soul and Indian Journeys, the last of which won the Grierson Award for Best Documentary Series at BAFTA in 2002. In December 2005 his article on the madrasas of Pakistan was awarded the prize for Print Article of the Year at the 2005 FPA Media Awards. He is married to the artist Olivia Fraser, and they have three children. They divide their time between London, Scotland and Delhi.

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Bibliographic information

Title The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857
Format Hardcover
Date published: 23.01.2006
Edition 1st ed.
Language: English
isbn 0670999253
length xxvii+578p., Figures; Notes; Bibliography; Index; 25cm.
Subjects History