The Last Mughal


“At 4 p.m. on a hazy, humid winter’s afternoon in Rangoon in November 1862, soon after the end of the monsoon, a shrouded corpse was escorted by a small group of British soldiers to an anonymous grave at the back of a walled prison enclosure”

Thus starts the introduction paragraph of the book Last Mughal. The author later reveals that the corpse was that of state prisoner named Bahadur shah II, widely known as Zafar who is a direct descendant of Genghis Khan and Timur, of Akbar, Jahangir and Shah Jahan.

With such a riveting introduction to a book I was sure that the book was not a mere historical account about the Mughals and the 1857 revolution. And I was right.

The Last Mughal by William Dalrymple is an impressive body of literary work which brings history to life. The 1857 Uprising and the fall of the Mughals; Reading through the book, I was astounded by the sheer magnificence of the author’s dedicated research that had enabled him to write with such √©lan that would enable the reader to understand and interpret history. The book is not a catalogue of dates and events of the last days of the Mughal Empire and the Sepoy mutiny but is an evocative narrative of the fall of a dynasty which ruled for 300 or so years.

William has done a rigorous research by reading through archives which was untouched until he came and thus has written a whole new perspective in to the mutiny. And succeeds in explaining in a manner which is thoroughly enjoyable;
Inserted into the passages at various times are the actual letters that were written and exchanged by the characters. This makes reading an emotional act.

William brings out his uninhibited love for Delhi with great passion that it has made me wish for visiting the old historical city and picture the history for myself.

This book can easily be a reference to how to write history text books should be for schools. If history is told in manner how it ought to be it can be exciting and students can learn quiet a lot and mainly interpret it which I think is not done.