Book Reviews: Autobiographies & Biographies
White Mughals by William Dalrymple
Read by Tracy 2005
Tracy recommends as an interesting perspective of the downfall of the Mughal Emperors.
I love to read books about India and this instantly caught my attention in the bookstore as it covered both the history of the Mughal empire in India and what caused the changes after the influx of Europeans (particularly the British). The history surrounding India is one I find totally fascinating and after several visits there I still can't get enough of the culture, civilisation and architecture.
Jahangir (Mughal Emperor) was feted by many countries in an effort to sign trade treaties, including England, who under the rule of King James I, despatched Sir Thomas Roe as an emissary to finalise a formal trade treaty between the two kingdoms. Although Roe failed at this, he was able to secure some rights for the East India Company and over the coming century traders were replaced with soldiers and the British gradually overcame the Portuguese, French and Dutch traders and also assisted instigate domestic wars which caused India to separate into independent states. It was this lack of Indian solidarity that finally saw the Indian rulers become nothing more than puppet heads of state. Eventually in 1858, the last Mughal Emperor was executed and British rule seemed to be unopposed with the British subsequently draining the country of its wealth. At the heart of the book is a story of love between Captain James Achilles Kirkpatrick and a Hyderabadi noblewoman and his need to balance between serving the East India Company and his love and sympathy for his adopted country. Dalrymple certainly details the intrigues that allowed the British to extend their influence, but sometimes it was just too detailed and the story line became lost or confused. Maybe the concept was just too big for one novel, I would have loved maybe a series to really get into.
William Dalrymple has a fantastic website which gives you information on his previous books.