ABOUT THE AUTHOR

William Dalrymple is a Scottish left-leaning historian and writer. He was born on March 20, 1965. He is also an art historian and a curator, broadcaster, and critic. Dalrymple mainly focuses on the history and art of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, and the Middle East.

He has written several books on history and travel. Some of his notable works include City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi, White Mughals, The Last Mughal, and Nine Lives: In Search of the Sacred in Modern India.

Dalrymple has also contributed as an Editor to Lonely Planet. He is a regular contributor to The New York Review of Books, The Guardian, the New Statesman, The New Yorker, and the Time magazine. He has also written for and presented in several TV and radio series. Dalrymple also happens to be one of the co-founders and the co-director of the Jaipur Literature Festival.

He is married to Olivia Fraser, and they have three children. They divide their time between London, Edinburgh, and Delhi.

SYNOPSIS

The Last Mughal is a historical account of the events leading up to the revolt of 1857, the period during the revolt, and the impact of its aftermath on the people of Delhi (the current Old Delhi).

The book talks at length about the Sepoy Mutiny, focusing on the battle that took place in Delhi. The central figure in this recollection is the last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar.

The narrative begins with the history of Bahadur Shah Zafar and his relationship with the East India Company. The author also highlights the power politics within his own family. Dalrymple then describes the sequence of events that made Zafar the reluctant yet symbolic leader of the revolt.

He then goes on to explain how its initial setbacks snapped the East India Company back to its senses before it regained control over the capital, squashed the rebel army, and almost decimated the entire Mughal dynasty.

The book also includes the personal experiences of many British families and the general public of Delhi.

WHAT WE LIKED ABOUT THE LAST MUGHAL

In The Last Mughal, leftist historian William Dalrymple has presented an interesting account of the Sepoy Mutiny. He, along with Mahmood Farooqui, went through numerous records, letters, complaint registers, spy notes and official decrees from the archives in India, Pakistan, the United Kingdom, and Myanmar to present an unbiased account of the Sepoy Mutiny.

An excerpt from The Last Mughal about how cow and pig-based cartridges caused the Sepoy Mutiny in 1857

The historic narrative takes into account the points of view of both, the rebel leaders and the East India Company. It is a comprehensive account of the plight of the city inhabitants caught up between the two warring sides. The life of the British families living in Delhi has also been presented in exquisite detail.

The events and characters have been dramatized just enough to keep the plot seamless and the recollection realistic.

WHAT WE DID NOT LIKE ABOUT THE LAST MUGHAL

Certain portions have been repeated in different chapters, especially while reintroducing a character or situation.

QUOTES

Upon the top of every fruit is written clearly and legibly:

This is the property of A, the son of B, the son of C.

The same year that Ghalib died in Delhi, 1869, there was born in Porbandar in Gujarat a boy called Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. It would be with the political movements headed by Gandhi, rather than those represented by Zafar, or indeed by Lord Canning, that the future of India would lie.

CONCLUSION

Ameya Score:
4/5

The Last Mughal is a must-read for history buffs. Readers are highly recommended to visit Old Delhi after reading this book to see Puraani Dilli with a fresh perspective. That said, given the author’s left-leaning credentials, readers are advised to look at this as a work of historical-fiction than some real chronology of events.

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