Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857” as Want to Read:
The Last Mughal: The Fall of a Dynasty, Delhi, 1857
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.05 of 5 stars 4.05  ·  rating details  ·  3,060 ratings  ·  237 reviews
On a hazy November afternoon in Rangoon, 1862, a shrouded corpse was escorted by a small group of British soldiers to an anonymous grave in a prison enclosure. As the British Commissioner in charge insisted, " No vestige will remain to distinguish where the last of the Great Moghuls rests. "
Bahadur Shah Zafar II, the last Mughal Emperor, was a mystic, an accomplished poe
Hardcover, 578 pages
Published January 1st 2006 by Bloomsbury UK
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Jul 29, 2007 Sandhya rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone with a penchant for history and great writing
Author: William Dalrymple
Publishers: Penguin Viking
Published In: 2006
Price: Rs 695
Pages: 586
Genre: Historical
BY Sandhya Iyer

Last glow of light

Being fairly intrigued by Mughal history, Dalrymple has always been one author whose books I’ve wanted to read. I missed out on his White Mughals but got an opportunity to read The Last Mughal and must say, it turned out to be every bit the rich, luxuriant and fascinating experience I imagined it to be.

I must confess here that I have no problems w
Why study history, especially the 1857 Indian Mutiny (aka, Sepoy Rebellion or 1st War of Indian Independence)? Because sometimes the threads are just so damn interesting…and even pertinent! Here’s one:

The Mughal Empire was known for its tolerance and usually treated Muslims and Hindus equally. At the end of the Delhi battle, the Muslims get the lion's share of the blame while mainly high-caste Hindu sepoys comprised the majority of the rebel forces and were the primary instigators. The Hindus re
Prashant R
The further backward you look....the further forward you can see." This is what Sir Winston Churchill said when talking about the relevance of history to one's current circumstance.

I cannot help but recall these words, after reading William Dalrymple's brilliant
"The Last Mughal".

William Dalrymple's latest book uses Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last emperor of the Mughal dynasty, to recreate the vibrant city of Delhi, in the 1850's. A culturally diverse, almost cosmopolitan city, of which Bahadur Shah
If you are interested in getting a glimpse of India somewhere during the 1857 mutiny, this is the book, an excellent read.
Fast paced, flashing like an epic movie, round about page 100 I was convinced of Dalrymple's brilliant talent, incorporating Urdu texts and British writings from the era to show how a tolerant creative, if excessive Mughal court was torn asunder by violence and racism; how something so small and inconsiderate as to how bullets were manufactured could erupt into such violence, followed by even greater revenge. I wanted insight into complicated Muslim, Sufi, Hindu, Christian relations and got exac ...more
Manu Prasad
Once, during a trip to Delhi, seeing the way history seemed to come 'alive' in the old city at various corners, I asked my friend whether anyone had tracked what had happened to the descendants of the Mughals, and how they saw their legacy . In this book, William Dalrymple does shed some light on it, though a sad one. More than the last Mughal emperor, the book belongs to the First War of Indian Independence to which he was unwittingly bound. Bahadur Shah 2 or Bahadur Shah Zafar as we were taugh ...more
I'm giving this book four stars because although it's very interesting material, I didn't get "hooked" very easily and it took me longer to read than a book this size usually takes me.

The book is about Delhi during the Indian Mutiny of 1857, and about the fall of the Mughals. I came out of reading this book disgusted and angry with both sides, and very sad for all the horrible things that happened in Delhi at that time. To think that Chandni Chowk, my favorite spot in Delhi, was the place of su
Shahine Ardeshir
Simply put: This is how history should be written.

William Dalrymple, in my opinion, took on a lot when he chose to write a book about the Revolution of 1857. It's a subject visited in Indian history books many, many times, and most people (myself included) think they already know everything there is to be said about that event.

The beautiful thing, though, is that he proved me completely wrong, by retelling the tale in a whole new way. Fundamentally, he did two things. First, he used multiple so
Arvind Balasundaram
A magnificent work of Indian history! Dalrymple convincingly argues that the various centers of the Sepoy Mutiny (in particular, Delhi) may have had a very local underpinning for the resentment against the British, and in this work makes a compelling case. The narrative is stellar, compassionate, and unbiased. Exploring hitherto undiscovered Urdu sources, Dalrymple portrays Bahadur Shah Zafar as a poet disconnected with the environment outside of the immediacy of Delhi. The author describes how ...more
The appalling and shocking account Indian uprising of 1857 and the British Army’s retribution. The accounts of killings and humiliation of Indian Muslims got to a point that I was literally disgusted, especially going down the last few chapters last night that I vowed never to pick up any of Dalrymple’s works again. British retribution to Cawnpur Massacre was absolutely shocking; I cannot imagine that a so-called most civilized nation of that time could resort to such barbarity and insensitivity ...more
Souvik Jana

Reading history probably could not be more interesting. An intriguing narration of the 1957 Sepoy Mutiny. Documenting the events in the way a modern journalist reports about war or a terror strike, William Dalrymple has narrated the events and the circumstances leading to the mutiny, the mutiny itself, the causes of its failure and the aftermath, even assuming its effect in the shaping of India.

What makes the reading a pleasure is the simple and sometime humorous tone Dalrymple has taken to desc

Jan 11, 2009 Jan rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in world history
This book is a marvelous account of the end of Hindustan's nominal autonomy in 1857, sparked by a revolt of indigenous soldiers against the British.

The first half of the book is nothing short of intoxicating; Dalrymple's descriptions of old Mughal Delhi are amazing, and he does a good job of getting across the tenor of relations between the British and the Muslims, as well as between the Muslims and the Hindus, and how they changed in the first half of the nineteenth century. Certainly it is ama
Maybe my favorite book I read this summer. Dalrymple started out as a travel writer (In Xanadu, which intrepidly follows the Silk Road) when he was only 22. Since then, he's turned into a resident of India and a historian who seems bound and determined to undo the bad effects of the Raj. This and its prequel, White Mughals, which I'm now reading, sketch a world of connections and links and love between the two sides--Englishmen who convert to Islam to marry high-caste women, some who learn Urdu ...more
Dhruv Goel
THE LAST MUGHAL-the fall of a dynasty 1857

What actually happened during and before 1857 which led to the biggest uprising against imperialist Britain? Was it Mangal Pandey who first took up his arms against his masters? Or, there was some deeper conspiracy? How beautiful was Delhi and what of it remained? This is the book that answers these questions, clears some wrong ideas and most importantly elaborates the splendour and grandeur of the Mughal Delhi. It tells a tale which is not heroic or epi
Debasish Das
The story of slow but sure dissipation of the last mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar II, is an eye opening narrative brought forth by long and painful work of translation of native Urdu manuscripts, newspapers, national archive records that are not yet digitalised and never before brought to life ..Forming the bedrock of this fact filled book where Dalrymple moves ahead emphathetically in a centre-of- road approach, with bias neither to A nor to B... Which is a strange liberating experience for ...more
Puneet Gurnani
Darlymple writes beautifully!!
He visits 19th century delhi and takes you along for the ride. You live amidst the delhi elite, taste their luxury, hear their rumors, and feel their fear. Even though a brit himself Darlymple never seems biased. He dwells elaborately on the prejudice of the company personell and the dying breed of those whom he calls "the white mughals". Whites who have adapted the lifstyle of the delhi elite... people like ochterloney, the frasers & the skinners who live in t
Christopher Saunders
Sterling account of the Indian Mutiny from the perspective of Bahadur Shah II, the Mughal Emperor who became a reluctant leader in the anti-British uprising. Not a comprehensive account of the Mutiny: Dalrymple focuses almost exclusively on the happenings in and around Delhi, which are certainly fascinating enough. Avoiding the blood-and-thunder hysterics of most Western books, Dalrymple proves remarkably sensitive to all sides. Like Shah Shujah in Dalrymple's Return of a King, Bahadur comes off ...more
This book is a timely one on this 150th anniversary of the Great Indian mutiny of 1857. This is also the first ever book that looks at the mutiny from the Indian point of view, though it is written by an Englishman. William Dalrymple has spent much of the past twenty years in India and so is eminently qualified to write this book. Using the extensive and valuable material in the National Archives in Delhi, he pieces together the kind of life that ordinary people lived in Delhi in 1857 and how th ...more
Sandeepan Mondal
This humongous illustration of an event spanning only a few years (i.e. the Sepoy Mutiny of 1857) is extremely well-researched and exquisitely written in a lucid manner which makes for a fast reading. This is the story of the last Mughal king, Bahadur Shah Zafar II, and the events leading up to it and its aftermaths; The author exemplifies the dire situation in which the emperor was caught unawares after the sepoys broke into Delhi (coming mainly from Meerut) and sought his blessings (actually h ...more
Deon Stonehouse
Shah Safar was in his 80’s when it fell to him to either lead or reject the mutiny of 1857. Safar was a dreamer, a poet, and a mystic, the blood of his ancestors had diluted to a calm and placid stream by the time it reached him. He would not have been equipped to lead a violent uprising in his youth much less in his 80’s. His ancestors probably cried in their graves. Genghis Khan, Barbar, Akbar, these were men who knew how to handle a foe, to wage a war. These were men who would have roared int ...more
Carol Hessler
Anything by this author is a perfect read for anyone interested in history.
An engrossing account of the circumstances, actuality and consequences of the Indian Mutiny of 1857. Dalrymple provides a vivid picture of life at the Mughal Court and among the British Raj in the 1850s and a balanced account of the religious and political prejudices and sheer brutality on both sides. The vicious suppression of by the Mutiny by the East India Company and the bigotry of the fanatical Evangelical Christians who dominated the Company at that time served only to demonstrate the very ...more
One of the best books set in this period, I believe. It is embarrassing that it was a British man who dug up the true history of this period of our country and wrote about it. Reflecting on it today, I wonder how my ancestors would have behaved at that time. It still surprises me that certain massacres go unnoticed and un-commented on, while others are inflated infinitely out of proportion. Though the UN is supposed to be maintaining peace and rights today, how can it do so- if the core of the o ...more
William Dalrymple has done extensive research and found a rich trove of original sources and has prepared an authoritative, richly documented account of this significant landmark in Indian history. The book addresses the massive 1857 "sepoy" uprising of disaffected Indian soldiers, largely Hindu, but joined by Muslims, and centers on the city of Delhi, which was the residence of the largely emasculated Moghul Emperor. The mutiny was a surprisingly effective attempt, at least initially, to throw ...more
Nitish Krishna
I don't read non-fiction very often but this was a great read. Dalrymple encapsulates almost every aspect of 1850s Delhi both before and after the revolt while also giving a captivating account of the revolt and its put-down. I loved the intimate details sourced from all sorts of different people living in those times. The middle section where he dissects the day of the revolt and the days following in pretty minute detail is also engaging. I love that he winds up the book by drawing parallels f ...more
Subhashish Sarkar
The book gives account of what transpired during 1857, what caused it and what happened subsequently. Though history books ought to be read with an objective mind, I think the author has successfully delivered account of both factions. An excellent read, it would transfer you to the streets of Delhi of that time, and makes you feel as though everything is happening right in front of you.
Sai Kishore
"Those who fail to learn from history are always destined to repeat it."- Edmund Burke
Okay, I was sceptical that another anglo is once again writing the "other's" history and was waiting for this eurocentric patriarchal slant, but wow, the research he conducted (which only scratched the surface) put forth an eye opening view of the complex situation in 1850s...for you history buffs, I say this is a "blhaddy good" read.
Aasem Bakhshi
Reading it was indeed experiencing history. I like how Dalrymple deconstructs secondary events that only a caring historian's eye can catch. Towards the end, I tended to disagree with Dalrymple's daughter; there should be more of it - I am still hungry.
I do find Dalrymple a bit like hard work. This is well-written and instructive, but could have been half the length. One admires the author's in-depth research, but I can't help feeling that a good, hard edit would have been a help.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
British India Battles fought 1 6 Jul 04, 2014 01:52PM  
typo error or... 7 54 Dec 27, 2011 12:49AM  
  • India: A History
  • Empires of the Indus: The Story of a River
  • The Wonder That Was India: A Survey of the History and Culture of the Indian Sub-Continent before the coming of the Muslims
  • Raj: The Making and Unmaking of British India
  • Indian Summer: The Secret History of the End of an Empire
  • The Great Partition: The Making of India and Pakistan
  • The Mughal Throne: The Saga of India's Great Emperors
  • Makers of Modern India
  • The Argumentative Indian: Writings on Indian History, Culture and Identity
  • Everybody Loves a Good Drought: Stories from India's Poorest Districts
  • The Great Mutiny: India 1857
  • The Penguin History of Early India: From the Origins to Ad 1300: Volume 1
  • From the Ruins of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia
  • India: From Midnight to the Millennium and Beyond
  • In Spite of the Gods: The Strange Rise of Modern India
  • The Discovery of India
  • Freedom at Midnight
  • Maharanis: The Extraordinary Tale of Four Indian Queens and Their Journey from Purdah to Parliament
William Dalrymple was born in Scotland and brought up on the shores of the Firth of Forth. He wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was twenty-two. The book won the 1990 Yorkshire Post Best First Work Award and a Scottish Arts Council Spring Book Award; it was also shortlisted for the John Llewellyn Rhys Memorial Prize. In 1989 Dalrymple moved to Delhi where he lived for six year ...more
More about William Dalrymple...
City of Djinns: A Year in Delhi Nine Lives White Mughals: Love and Betrayal in Eighteenth-Century India In Xanadu: A Quest From the Holy Mountain: A Journey among the Christians of the Middle East

Share This Book

“The outbreak revealed the surprising degree to which the Mughal court was still regarded across northern India not as some sort of foreign Muslim imposition – as some, especially on the Hindu right wing, look upon the Mughals today – but instead as the principal source of political legitimacy, and therefore the natural centre of resistance against British colonial rule.” 0 likes
“For the British after 1857, the Indian Muslim became an almost subhuman creature, to be classified in unembarrassedly racist imperial literature alongside such other despised and subject specimens, such as Irish Catholics or ‘the Wandering Jew’.” 0 likes
More quotes…