William Dalrymple, Anita Anand
The first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor, arguably the most celebrated and mythologised jewel in the world.
On 29 March 1849, the ten-year-old maharaja of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the centre of the great fort in Lahore. There, in a public ceremony, the frightened but dignified child handed over great swathes of the richest country in India in a formal Act of Submission to a private corporation, the East India Company. He was also compelled to hand over to the British monarch, Queen Victoria, perhaps the single most valuable object on the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i Noor diamond. The Mountain of Light.
The history of the Koh-i-Noor that was then commissioned by the British may have been one woven together from gossip of Delhi bazaars, but it was to become the accepted version. Only now is it finally challenged, freeing the diamond from the fog of mythology that has clung to it for so long. The resulting history is one of greed, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation told through an impressive slice of south and central Asian history. It ends with the jewel in its current controversial setting: in the crown of Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother.
Masterly, powerful and erudite, this is history at its most compelling and invigorating.
Extraordinary. William Dalrymple and Anita Anand have found previously ignored and untranslated Persian and Afghan sources to give us fresh information -- Ysenda Maxtone Graham * The Times * Riveting. Dalrymple and Anand present as evocative a rendering as the most enthralling bazaar storyteller while providing an astute and empathetic study of the historical landscape through which the diamond has made its troubled way ... This highly readable and entertaining book ... finally sets the record straight on the history of the Koh-i-Noor -- Tarquin Hall * Sunday Times * Dalrymple and Anand's tale is a writer's gift -- Robert Leigh-Pemberton * Daily Telegraph * The history of the many who have coveted the diamond is long and involved, full of wonder and awe, treachery and bloodshed * Observer * Dalrymple tracks its tortuous journey across the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan to its arrival in the Punjabi treasury; Anand tells the subsequent story of British ownership. Their two narratives are neatly spliced and stylistically harmonious ***** -- Matthew Dennison * Mail on Sunday * [Dalrymple and Anand] have a real story to tell ... for anyone with a taste for that classic blend of blood and bling, for "oceans of pearls and gold" and hecatombs of severed heads, for monstrous heaps of eyeballs - 20,000 of them - and precious stones "in quantities that beggar all description" this is an oriental Games of Thrones - Dalrymple's own reference - in spades -- David Crane * Spectator * Meticulously researched and brilliantly written ... In fewer than 300 quick-reading pages, Dalrymple and Anand bust myth after myth -- Jon Wilson * BBC History Magazine * Dalrymple tells this complicated story with verve and admirable brevity, drawing on a wide range of literature and memoirs. He paints a picture in which elegance and refinement are married to treachery and hideous brutality ... This is a book which anyone interested in 19th century India and Indio-British relations will want to read -- Allan Massie * Scotsman * Gruesome and ceaselessly dramatic * Daily Telegraph * For all that the Koh-i-Noor may be a doubtful best friend, there is no doubting the fascination of its story, told so engagingly here -- John Ure * Country Life * Koh-i-Noor offers memorable tales of Indian courtly intrigue and violence, and explores the shifting fortunes of South Asian dynasties, the consolidation of British power in the subcontinent, and the British monarchy during and after Queen Victoria's reign * Times Literary Supplement * Dalrymple and Anand bring every stage of the Koh-i-Noor's turbulent past to life. It is an utterly fascinating story, revealing the nature of power through the history of one of its most potent symbols -- Lucy Moore * Literary Review * In this vivid history of one of the world's most celebrated gemstones, the Indian diamond known as the Koh-i-Noor, Anita Anand and William Dalrymple put an inventive twist on the old maxim. "Follow the diamond," they realise, and it can lead into a dynamic, original and supremely readable history of empires -- Maya Jasanoff * Guardian * The fascinating story of this enormous jewel, currently kept in the Tower of London, is told in a compelling new book by Radio 4's Anita Anand (Any Answers) and historian William Dalrymple ... The book comes out on June 15 and I can't wait to get my hands on it -- Richard and Judy * Daily Express * William Dalrymple is to non-fiction what JK Rowling is to fiction ... This joint project with Anita Anand is bound to fly off the shelves as quickly as readers can devour it * Bookseller *
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