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Aurangzeb: The Man and the Myth

3.57  ·  Rating details ·  449 ratings  ·  89 reviews
Aurangzeb Alamgir (r. 1658–1707), the sixth Mughal emperor, is widely reviled in India today. Hindu hater, murderer and religious zealot are just a handful of the modern caricatures of this maligned ruler. While many continue to accept the storyline peddled by colonial-era thinkers—that Aurangzeb, a Muslim, was a Hindu-loathing bigot—there is an untold side to him as a man ...more
Hardcover, 189 pages
Published February 10th 2017 by Penguin Random House India
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3.57  · 
Rating details
 ·  449 ratings  ·  89 reviews

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Nandakishore Varma
Jul 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Aurangzeb has been cast as an unmitigated villain by the British, a myth which has been enthusiastically adopted by Hindutva apologists to further their agenda of projecting Muslims as cruel bigots and ruthless killers. The truth, as usual, is much more nuanced.

The casual reader and scholar alike, however, should be wary of what constitutes historical evidence and a legitimate historical claim. Individuals that claim to present 'evidence' of Aurangzeb's supposed barbarism couched in the suspicio
Pankaj Rathee
Feb 01, 2018 rated it did not like it
Short review:

One word to describe this book : SHAMEFUL

Genocide denial is a crime in several parts of the world. But in India, especially in regards to Hindu history, glorifying fanatic and rabid mass murderers not only does not land you in jail but instead makes you an 'intellectual' and an 'accomplished writer'. Having the privilege of white skin, like Audrey Truschke, makes things even more easier.

Let me just ask a few questions:

Can you write a book glorifying Hitler in regards to his genocide
Mar 12, 2017 rated it did not like it
In this book Audrey Truschke takes up the challenge of addressing one of the most controversial figures of Indian history. The book should be read in the spirit it was written- as a "preliminary" engagement/exploration of alternative understandings about Aurangzeb. A historian’s task to this extent is doubly challenging: identifying the source material and putting aside one’s predispositions and prejudices in the task of interpreting the sources. Truschke claims she has stepped forward from earl ...more
Mar 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
If you care about serious, objective history, this book is pure rubbish. The sort of cherry-picking of facts that this book employs is adequate to convince the lay reader that Aurangzeb was one of the most pious rulers to have ever walked the face of this Earth. At some junctions, the arguments are so wafer-thin that they are laughable. These perversions would undoubtedly appeal to the honorary members of the Irfan Habib fan club, but they do a great disservice to history and academia. I will be ...more
Kanika Sisodia
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Thoroughly enjoyed the book, for all Non- history Persons, its a very simple read. This book deals with the most hated person in India, and offers a narrative as to how we are all wrong. Aurangzeb tried to be a just king in Medieval India, and one should not attempt to judge based on modern perspectives. Aurangzeb like all had many faults, but not that we often accuse him of, being a religious bigot and fanatic as the book constantly draws our attention to these facts. Must Read if you love Medi ...more
Sajith Kumar
Jun 26, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history, mughals
Old wine in an old bottle – that is the impression one feels after reading this small book on the last great Mughal emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir. He was a controversial figure then, as now. All of India, with the exception of a bunch of Left-leaning career-historians, consider Aurangzeb as a tyrant who harassed and intimidated the non-Muslim, non-Sunni subjects in untold number of ways. This dislike comes out in more ways than one. ‘Aurangzeb ki Aulad’ (progeny of Aurangzeb) is an invective in Indi ...more
Bablu Nonia
Jul 11, 2017 rated it did not like it
"Someone Else’s Sins Will Not Justify Your Sins"
The author desperately tried to defend Aurangzeb by just saying those where common practice at that time, given the opportunity Dara Shukoh would did the same. Most idiotic thing she wrote that Hindu Kings also demolished Temples or other religious institute.
Irony is that she wrote a line that sometimes changing facts to suit the author's tastes.
Nov 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
History in India suffers from a perception extremity. Either a king is good and great or he is vile and terrible. Sadly, there is no middle path to understand the subtle shades of grey. Also our views are colored by the early historians who were mostly British (and possibly on the payroll of the company!) or later day Indian historians who came with their own baggage of political bias ( Pandit Nehru included !) and presented us a history as they interpret and not history as it happened.
Tipu Sult
Haaris Mateen
Aug 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Boy, was this guy a complex person. The best thing about heated public debates is that it pushes scholars to dig deeper to resolve thorny arguments in the public sphere. Truschke does a great job in writing a fast-paced, highly readable account that I'd recommend to anyone. What it paints is a portrait of a man who was firstly driven by a ruthless sense of ambition, followed by an inconsistent desire to act "just" (easily superseded by that ambition) set in the historical context of Empires and ...more
Avishek Bhattacharjee
Aurangzeb was a man of his times, not ours.He was a man of studied contrasts and perplexing features.He did not hesitate to slaughter family members, or rip apart enemies, literally as was the case with Sambhaji.At the same time he swed prayer caps by hand and professed a desire to lead a pious muslim life.He was a connoisseur of music and even fell in love with HIrabai but beginning in midlife, deprived himself to the pleasure of musical arts.He built the largest mosque in the world but chose t ...more
May 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is actually a very short work that provides a sweeping overview of some prominent aspects of Aurangzeb (Badshah Alamgir) of Hindustan. But then again the author's aim apparently is not to provide a comprehensive biography, but to provide a counter to the dominant imperial and nationalistic narratives that paint him as a religious zealot, a convenient demon for the vested interests of British colonialism and now Hindu nationalism. But as often is the case, Auragzeb and his reign are a lot mo ...more
May 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A well produced volume, almost monograph sized - focusing specifically on the modern narrative around Aurangzeb and providing a solid list of reading material should one decide to follow through and learn more. This is certainly not claiming to be an exhaustive "biography" or, "study". Rather, the salient aspects which cover a broad sweep of what it meant to be an emperor of the dynasty are well put together. Very timely publication.
Viraj Motegaonkar
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
To cut long story short Aurangzeb was a product of brutal times. He believed being brutal was pragmatic approach to handle his empire. Having said that Aurangzeb was far from being a bigot. Although book is well researched it still doesn't do justice to 49 years of Aurangzeb's rule.

Also i felt Aurangzeb's equations with the Maratha have been under reported. Aurangzeb made deccan his de-facto capital for decades and yet there is nothing to show for in the book.

i bought this book so as to get an
Nov 03, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Hindutva's grasp on history is delusional af. I loved how the author dragged it. This is a well-written book especially the parts about not reading the Rajputs, Marathas v/s Mughals conflict on communal lines and her explanations about sources and how to critically read them. It also cleared up a lot of my misconceptions regarding Aurangzeb's stance on music, festivals, employing minorities etc. BUT it's extremely curious to me that she hasn't delved into Sikh historian's assessment of Aurangzeb ...more
Dhanya Narayanan
May 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This book with 216 pages can be read at one go, unlike most historical texts, without any interruption created by confusing facts or complicated sentences. It gives an avant-garde perspective on Aurangzeb, who was the sixth Mughal Emperor held responsible for igniting the collapse of the Mughal Empire in India. The author, Audrey Truschke is an assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University in New Jersey who focuses on the cultural, imperial and intellectual history of early mo ...more
Sadiq Kazi
Mar 28, 2017 rated it liked it
The much maligned emperor deserves much more writing...much more investigation...and much more analysis. Unfortunately, much of what we have known so far is history as written for the modern times, and truth may become coloured with what modernity wants to read from it. This is one small attempt...I wouldn't say to correct the situation. But history owes it...that we know more about this enigmatic king who has been conveniently maligned in recent times.
Arun Thayalan
May 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A compelling read.. It dispels many myths about the emperor who is perceived as the Destroyer of Hindu temples and Hinduism (which allegedly lead to destruction of the empire itself..)

Unlike other history books, Audrey Truschke has taken care to give all the available versions of an incident and suggests which might be the most logical one and why. A fitting academic rebuttal to modern day Hindutva based (hi)story writers..

Most positive of all... It's written in a lucid simple language we woul
Feb 20, 2017 rated it it was amazing
It's a wonderfully nuanced portrait of Emperor Aurangzeb . The book , for me , was like a conversation with the author , about her views on various aspects of the Emperor's rule , his campaigns , his letters , various royal orders . It left me wanting read more about this era of history . It's extremely well researched.
May 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Despite its erratic style, it does address certain myths about Aurangzeb. Short and academic writing doesn't make it a great book though. A biography deserves more, it deserves analysis and in depth discussion about the person and his outlook.
Jan 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and pretty concise. Aurungzeb has a bad reputation and a lot of negative information is known about him, partly due to propaganda that is spewed by the British in conjunction with enemies of the Mughal Empire after his death. Ruthless to Hindus? He had Hindu members in his office. Tyrannical Muslim? He went to wars with Muslims too. He was a complex figure, but his high ambitions is what lead to the demise of the empire.
Yasir Malik
Jun 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very readable and thin volume. Clears the air about many issues related to Aurangzeb the Mughal king. As the notes illustrate, the book is well researched and the rigors of the research are not carried into the text which is simple and crisp. Good effort to get the debate going about one of the most controversial rulers of Mughal India.
Shashank Sourav
Feb 25, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: biography
I feel good that I've read this book it gave me different perspective to see Aurangzeb being an Indian it was hard for me to see Aurangzeb from this point but it was good.
Feb 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Audrey Truschke makes some compelling arguments in favour of the Mughal emperor Aurangzeb; through various examples and written evidence she offers us a fresh perspective on a controversial and often reviled figure. I have to say I have tremendous respect for her insight and balanced perspective. One point that she makes persuasively is an entreaty to reconsider our condemnation of Aurangzeb - complex, multi-faceted king - based on modern Indian politics and the aggressive Hindu-Muslim narrative ...more
Dipra Lahiri
Oct 20, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017, history
A very controversial book in India at the moment, with battle lines drawn between the left and the right. Seems to me that the fundamental reason for the differences in views, is the manner in which historical figures and events are to be interpreted. The author attempts to examine Aurangzeb in the context of the 17th century, while her critics perhaps are more influenced by modern political complexities.

The book itself reads easy, and is a good introduction to the 50+ years of Aurangzeb's reig
Aug 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Audrey Truschke's flowy writing style is not the only defining element of her academic writing. The amount of depth that has gone into this book's research is unbelievable. She debunks the Aurangzeb myth, and presents to us an alternative account which, in my humble opinion, is utterly necessary in this exceedingly intolerant atmosphere we're becoming accustomed to.
I'm going to say this again, absolutely blown by the extent of primary sources she's used to justify her findings. It was good histo
Oct 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Shelves: fiction, fantasy
This book is a complete work of fiction. The author has amazing imagination and has come up with a fairytale book with a man named Aurangzeb as hero. There was this Mughal emperor by the same name who was more of a mass murderer, this book has no connection to that beast. Its like someone trying to portray Hitler as a hero.If there was a way to give negative rating to this book I would have. For those who want to know the real Mughals please read The naked Mughals by Vashi Sharma (https://www.go ...more
Shweta Mehrotra
Jun 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
History simplified. Person simplified. Aurangzeb, the mighty arrogant ruler unveiled. Shown from a different lens, one wonders and has so many questions left to be answered. Maybe he was misjudged. Maybe not. To find out more, you've got to unlearn all that was taught in school about him and start on a fresh new page. Know him and then judge him. He may not have been righteous but so weren't the other Mughals.
Akshaj Awasthi
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A very insightful, unbiased opinion on the last Great Mughal. The author tries her best to keep a balanced opinion,and does a good job at it. The book also appeals to the layman,with a brisk and engaging narration style which is rare in the non fiction of today. A must read for any Indian and non Indian who wishes to see past the jargon of the current saffron clad era of India.
Vipul Vivek
Jul 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
In an accessible language, Truschke not only introduces lay as well as academic readers to the latest research on Aurangzeb but also subtly introduces the less serious history enthusiasts to historiography and pitfalls of anachronistic readings of the past for the purposes of the present.
Inzemamul Haque
Apr 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Unbiased in its approach. This book is opposed to the two extreme views about Aurangzeb - a)anti-hindu, b) righteous.
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Audrey Truschke is assistant professor of South Asian history at Rutgers University, Newark.
“Aurangzeb’s contemporaries included such kings as Charles II of England, Louis XIV of France, and Sultan Suleiman II of the Ottoman Empire. No one asserts that these historical figures were ‘good rulers’ under present-day norms because it makes little sense to assess the past by contemporary criteria. The aim of historical study is something else entirely.” 3 likes
“We ought to repress our feelings and live in harmony.” 1 likes
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