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

Average Rating 4.5
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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 8, 2008

    Superb portrait of Mughal India and its destruction

    This magnificent book is based on Persian and Urdu documents in India¿s National Archives. It vividly portrays Mughal Delhi and its destruction in 1857. The last Mughal Emperor, Bahadur Shah Zafar II (1775-1862), was at the heart of a court of great brilliance, home of `the greatest literary renaissance in modern Indian history¿. Architectural historian James Ferguson called his palace `the most splendid palace in the world¿. Dalrymple shows that the Uprising resulted from the Raj¿s growing racism and hatred, its `steady crescendo of insensitivity¿. Its arrogant schemes to impose Evangelical Christianity and Christian laws on India `ushered in the most obnoxious phase of colonialism¿. The uprising was `along distinct class lines¿, with workers to the fore. It was the most serious armed challenge to imperialism in the 19th century, posed to the world¿s greatest military power. Dalrymple notes the rebels¿ military, strategic, administrative, logistical and financial failings and their war crimes. But the accusations of rape by the rebels were false: the official inquiry found not a single case of rape the only mass rapes were by British soldiers after the reconquest of Delhi. He reveals for the first time `the full scale of the viciousness and brutality of the British response¿, as detailed in the records of the revived British administration. ¿The orders were to shoot every soul. ¿ It was literally murder ¿ Heaven knows I feel no pity ¿¿ wrote British officer Edward Vibart. Colonel A. R. D. Mackenzie boasted that we ¿exterminated them as men kill snakes wherever they meet them.¿ After killing three unarmed captive princes, Captain William Hodson wrote to his sister, ¿I am not cruel, but I confess I did enjoy the opportunity of ridding the earth of these wretches.¿ Lieutenant Charles Griffiths wrote of John Clifford, the former collector of Gurgaon, ¿He shook my hands, saying that he had put to death all he had come across, not excepting women and children, and from his excited manner and the appearance of his dress ¿ which was covered with blood stains ¿ I quite believe he told the truth.¿ Governor-General Lord Canning told Queen Victoria that the British forces displayed `a rabid and indiscriminate vindictiveness¿. Palmerston said that Delhi should be deleted from the map, `levelled to the ground¿. British forces sacked, looted and emptied Delhi and massacred great swathes of its people. Much of the palace and its surrounding areas were razed. Most of its leading inhabitants were killed or transported to die in the Raj¿s new Andaman Islands camp for 10,000 prisoners. As far as the Mughal elite were concerned, the British response was `approaching a genocide¿ and `would today be classified as grisly war crimes¿. Dalrymple sums up, ¿That massacre of the inhabitants of Delhi, commanded and justified in the eyes of Victorian Evangelicals by their reading of the Christian scriptures. ¿ `In the city no one¿s life was safe,¿ wrote Muin ud-Din Husain Khan. `All able-bodied men who were seen were taken for rebels and shot.¿ Ghalib, who had disliked the sepoys from the beginning, was now no less horrified by the barbarity of the returning British. `The victors killed all whom they found on the streets,¿ he wrote in Dastanbuy. `When the angry lions entered the town, they killed the helpless and weak and they burned their houses. Mass slaughter was rampant and streets were filled with horror. It may be that such atrocities always occur after conquest.¿¿

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 11, 2014

    Whoever likes this book will die

    This book is a piece of crap i hate it like i hate adults

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 17, 2014

    Very well written historical account of one of the most importan

    Very well written historical account of one of the most important event in the history of South Asia. The book is full of credible sources. Dalrymple has done a great job in researching the subject matter, and his writing style is engaging and keeps the interest alive; something I find hard to find in history books

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 18, 2013

    Strongly Recommend

    A very good book that details the treatment by the British of the last mogul emperor. Students or those individuals interested in the history of the sub continent this book is a must read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2009

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    Posted August 31, 2010

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