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Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire
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Taj Mahal: Passion and Genius at the Heart of the Moghul Empire

3.73 of 5 stars 3.73  ·  rating details  ·  204 ratings  ·  40 reviews
The dazzling story of the Taj Mahal and the empire whose spirit it epitomizes.

Built by the Moghul emperor Shah Jahan as a memorial to his beloved wife, Mumtaz Mahal, the Taj Mahal’s flawless symmetry and gleaming presence have or centuries dazzled everyone who has seen it, and the story of its creation is a fascinating blend of cultural and architectural heritage. Yet, as
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Paperback, 336 pages
Published February 5th 2008 by Walker & Company (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 517)
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Jason Pettus
(Reprinted from the Chicago Center for Literature and Photography [cclapcenter.com:]. I am the original author of this essay, as well as the owner of CCLaP; it is not being reprinted here illegally.)

Regular readers know that later this fall, I'm going to be studying the ultra-complex history of India for the first time in my life, and that I'm slowly easing myself into it this year whenever I have an excuse; for example, last November during the terrible attacks in Mumbai, I became curious as to
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Neil
This book provides a broad historical context for the building of the Taj Mahal, focusing on the few generations of Mughal emperors that led up to Shah Jahan, its builder, and ending with the death of his son, who imprisoned Shah Jahan. A few chapters are substantially dedicated to the architecture, design and construction of the Taj itself. So, if you're looking for a hyper-detailed physical examination of the structure alone, this book is not for you. On the other hand, it is impossible to und ...more
Tanvi
after reading the twentieth wife and feast of roses, I succumbed to the spell of the moghul empire. i spent days, weeks, and months of free time checking out and reading moghul books from the library. the authentic tapestries, the memoirs, the stories of betrayal, love, ambition, royalty, sexual indiscretions, jealousy, hatred, family . . pretty much just fascinating tales of history. and what pulled me in and kept me entangled with the moghuls is that it is all true and corroborated . . . it is ...more
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.
Darrell
Great book. I went in unsure about whether I would like this or not, and almost quit a couple times, but I'm glad I endured. It gives an interesting human context for the building of the Taj Mahal, and the lifestyles of the Mongul emporers that ruled in India at the time.
Dan
This book is really a history of the Moghul Empire from rise to fall with a focus on the lives and love story of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. Extravagance, excess, greed, and hunger for power causes grief and the downfall of the great.
Nicole
Just couldn't get into. Names of people and places kept running together since i have no reference to place or time. The book was recommended from a friend, but just not for me.
Sumaiya
This book was a fun, breezy look into a very dangerous and opulent time. So well written! I love when history makes you question the need to read fiction.
Michael Griswold
Taj Mahal by Diana Preston depicts the Taj Mahal as this breathtakingly beautiful tribute to a great love between Shah Jahan, the Mogul emperor and his wife Mumtaz Mahul, who died during childbirth. Although Preston labors for entire chapters over the beauty of the Taj Mahul and the love these two people shared, the rest of the book is dedicated to illustrating the barbaric inter-family brutality and lust for power that eventually led to the downfall of Mogul rule. For the many advancements and ...more
Louise
This book is the story of the family behind the Taj Mahal. If you are interested in the actual monument, its design and construction, you will have to do with about 50 pages. I got this book at the public library, so I was able to browse it, and the history was I was looking for. Otherwise, I would have been disappointed.

The Prestons give not only an understandable, but also a readable account of this brutal family history. The sketch of the love story is well known, but not how Shah Jahan lost
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Melody
Prior to reading this book, you could have tattooed everything I knew about the Moghul Empire on my eyelid and I would have never noticed. So much history I'm oblivious to, and glad to have the chance to pick up a little knowledge in an accessible fashion. The short version is not unlike any other empire: great wealth and power breeds crazy excess and ultimately ruin. The love story is interesting, the architectural pieces amazing. Well worth picking up.
Ann Holland
Extensive research and meticulous attention to detail bring to life the story not just of the building of the Taj Mahal, but the history of the Moghul Empire and the jealousies, envy, and hatred among members of several generations of rulers. Having been privileged to see this exquisite, ethereal building, I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in the building of the Taj Mahal and in the history of India.
Marlene Rockmore
This is the second book I read on my trip. What a story! As iconic as the Taj Mahal is, one has to wonder what the Moghul empire did to India. Shah Jahan, who was the last great emperor, built the Taj Mahal after the death of his favorite wife in his harem, Mumtaz Mahal who was in her 13th pregnancy, The authors trace her history as well as Shah Jahan, and a picture grows of a brutal, complex power couple and of the Taj which reflects passion and ambition and brutality and beauty. The writing is ...more
Rajesh Kurup
I was really surprised at how much I liked Preston's Taj Mahal. I received the book as a gift or never would have picked it up otherwise. I studied the Mughals in college and wrote my thesis on Shah Jahan's grandfather so thought I knew it all about the Mughal's.

The book goes beyond the history and brings color and personality to the regime. The book is really not a book on the Taj itself, but rather about the events and people that lead to the Taj's construction. She goes back before Shah Jahan
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Theodosia of the Fathomless Hall
The title of the nascent academics shelf is makieshift...I suppose. 4/5 stars.
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.

Pretty good narration.
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.

Pretty good narration.
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.

Pretty good narration.
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.

Pretty good narration.
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.

Pretty good narration.
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.
Tom Schulte
This is a fascinating history of the Moghul Empire and it span from the last echoes of the Mongols to teh rise of the Islamic Empire's reach into northern India. Along the way, one emperor's fanatical love for his lost wife coupled with neear boundless energy and wealth gave us a man-made Wonder of the World.
Georgia Roybal
This book has a wonderful, fun to read accounting of the Moghul Empire in India. Especially interesting was Akbar, a pretty enlightened person for his time and place. The book made me want to go back to Taj Mahal and enjoy at least for an entire day. (I was there for about two yours when I went--not enough!!)
Priyangi
A very descriptive historical account of the events and generations of people involved leading to the construction of the Taj Mahal. The book is written as a smoothly flowing story that succeeds in transporting the reader to that time and place in the history of India.
Charity
so great if you have any interest at all in the history of the Taj Mahal. Honestly I learned so much about world history, the authors took time to put the history of this area in context with history in Europe and even the beginning of the USA. I learned a lot
Jennifer
I simply adored this book and this was one of the best books I've read in a while. As I was reading I envisioned the surroundings and the characters involved. This was a history book that read beautifully and I didn't feel like I was reading a dry text-book.
Cassandra Kay Silva
Enjoyable slightly dry non fictional account of the Taj Mahal. The good news is no embellishment is necessary to make this story fabulous.

This particular book covers briefly two generations prior to Shah Jahan and one generation after.
Sierra
This book was exactly what I was looking for - a somewhat brief history of the Mughal Empire from Babur to Aurangzeb, including the building of the Taj Mahal. It reads somewhat like a research paper which takes into account rumors & facts.
Kevin
Couldn’t finish it. Too much minutiae about the Moghul dynasties. The authors really didn’t differentiate well between the many historical characters and I found myself frequently lost, as to whom they were writing about.
Annie
I really liked it! I enjoyed how the authors told what was happening in the world before, during, and after the Taj Majal's creation.
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From Walker Books:

Born and raised in London, Diana Preston studied Modern History at Oxford University, where she first became involved in journalism. After earning her degree, she became a freelance writer of feature and travel articles for national UK newspapers and magazines and has subsequently reviewed books for a number of publications, including The Wall Street Journal and The Los Angeles T
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More about Diana Preston...
A Pirate of Exquisite Mind: Explorer, Naturalist, and Buccaneer: The Life of William Dampier The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China's War on Foreigners that Shook the World in the Summer of 1900 Cleopatra and Antony: Power, Love, and Politics in the Ancient World Lusitania: An Epic Tragedy Before the Fallout: From Marie Curie to Hiroshima

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