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Book Review: Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond​ by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand

kohinoorThere are names that you have heard multiple times in your life but know a little about them. Kohinoor is one such name that fascinates many of us and I knew very little about it, so when I saw this book I wanted to know more so picked up this book.

Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand is one book that you would like to read if you want to know more about Kohinoor or if you would like to cross check your facts about Kohinoor. A very well written book which gets the history right (as far as it could be) and great story telling without boring you with the unnecessary details.

 

Rating

★★★★ (4 out of 5)

The Storyline

The book succinctly tells the story of world-famous gem Koh-i-Noor or ‘The Mountain of Light’ as meant in persian. It traces the history of one of the biggest diamond in the world.

It starts the journey from Mughal court to Persia to Afghanistan to Punjab to ultimately London where it reached as part of a treaty between East India Company and Maharaja Duleep Singh.

The diamond first came in possession of Mughals (the exact source is not known) and was ‘the jewel’ in crown of Shah Jahan in his peacock throne. Then it passed on to many other rulers like Nader Shah to Maharaja Ranjit Singh and when he died it passed on to his son Duleep Singh.

East India company always had its eyes on the coveted diamond and in the guise of protecting Punjab and Duleep Singh forced him to sign a treaty which gave the Kohinoor to the British along with many other things.

The diamond was also assumed to be cursed that whichever ruler had it met a deadly end. It was also at one time considered to be the fable gem Syamantaka as mentioned in Puranas.

In the end the diamond found its resting place in London museum and still there are many claims made on it by different factions and nations.

What I Think

I’m not a history buff and moreover historical and ancient books haven’t gone down well with me in the past. I was skeptical when picking up this book but the inquisitiveness about Kohinoor and the fact that I know so little about it made me pick up this book.

And after finishing this book I was like “WOW”, history could be made so interesting. The book although deals with historical facts and stories is very much kept alive and moving at all times. The book doesn’t bore you with the unnecessary historical details and maintains a fine balance between a good story telling and facts.

I particularly liked the fact that in addition to knowing about the Kohinoor I got to know so much more about the Mughals, Durranis, Sikhs, etc. The major historical events are also covered at one end and on the other hand the story of Kohinoor continues at a good pace.

The book is written in two parts, the first part by William Dalrymple tells about the history of Kohinoor and its time with Mughals and in Iran, Afghanistan etc. and the second part of the book is written by Anita Anand which deals with how the diamond found its resting place in London and how did the monarchy reacted to it.

The book also provides a lot of other valuable and interesting historical information around Mughal era and also gives a glimpse of how East India Company  began the wealth drain from India.

Last Words

If history can be dealt in this way, I promise to read more of it. But I guess the bigger credit goes to the authors whose mastery over the subject and their intense research and  powerful writing made this book worth a read. You will find a lot of information that you might have never come across and will enjoy it.

The only thing I would have liked is that it was shorter by a few pages but then again adjusting so much history in one book is a tough job.

I strongly recommend this book to everyone, be it that you are interested in knowing about Kohinoor or you are only looking for a good read, this book will live up to your expectations.

Kohinoor: The Story of the World’s Most Infamous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand is available on www.juggernaut.in and in bookstores.

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