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Summary

The first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor, arguably the most celebrated and mythologised jewel in the world, from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling historians William Dalrymple and Anita Anand.

On 29 March 1849, the 10-year-old Maharajah of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the centre of the great Fort in Lahore. There, in a public ceremony, the frightened but dignified child handed over to the British East India Company in a formal act of submission not only swathes of the richest land in India but also arguably the single most valuable object in the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond. The Mountain of Light.

Under commission from the British East India Company, gossip from Delhi bazaars was woven into what would become the accepted history of the Koh-i-Noor. Now, for the first time, 150 years after it was written, this version is finally challenged, freeing the diamond from the fog of mythology which has clung to it for so long. The resulting history is one of greed, conquest, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation through an impressive slice of South and Central Asian history. Masterly, powerful and erudite, this is history at its most compelling and invigorating.

©2017 Bloomsbury (P)2017 Audible, Ltd

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    5 out of 5 stars
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  • 101
  • London, UK
  • 26-10-17

excellent book, pronunciations a bit iffy

this book is really excellent and works well as an audiobook.

Leighton Pugh reads it well but his pronunciation of hindi / urdu / punjabi words & names etc isn't fantastic.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Good

Enjoyed the chapters regarding maharaja Dulip Singh and his relationship with the logans and Victoria

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Extraordinary

Have you listened to any of Leighton Pugh’s other performances? How does this one compare?

Generally good, but PLEASE PLEASE pay an Indian to teach the narrator how to pronounce the ethnic names properly. If one is a professional narrator one should make sure he or she gets the local pronunciation right. I know it can be difficult but engage a suitable instructor. I could not help laughing at the appalling pronunciation of the names and ethnic words which sadly let down the story telling.

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Dalrymple's no holding back factual account

This was the missing piece of the puzzle in terms of attempting to find out the truth behind the Kohi Noor diamond. Absolutely no frills account on how the diamond left in its path so much wanton death and destruction. William Dalrymple as always a detailed historian putting forward the facts. Fascinating and both historically and currently important

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Sparked my interest

Would you try another book written by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand or narrated by Leighton Pugh?

Maybe. Too much detail in earlier chapters where I would challenge any reader to try to keep up with the mass of foreign names and then not enough detail in second part of the book after the diamond reached uk.

Would you be willing to try another one of Leighton Pugh’s performances?

Yes but there was a huge problem with volume. All my other books are fine but the sound on iPhone and IPad was low. It was a struggle to hear and this spoiled my enjoyment of the book to a considerable degree

If this book were a film would you go see it?

No

Any additional comments?

See above re narration. It did spark my interest and I will look for other books on this diamond but I will need better sound as this one was was almost inaudible in parts

0 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Jean
  • 08-07-17

Fascinating

This book is divided into two parts. The first part is written by William Dalrymple, who is an authority on 18th and 19th century India. He tells the story of the Koh-I-Noor diamond from the time Persian Nadu Shah humiliated the Mughal Emperor, sacked Delhi and sized the diamond, the Peacock throne and other jewels. The Mughal Dynasty was of Turkic-Mongol origin and ruled most of Northern India from 16th to mid-18th century. The Shah was murdered and the Afghan King took the diamond. It was then taken by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh. When the British conquered the Punjab in 1846, the ten-year-old King Duleep Singh gave it to Queen Victoria. It is now in the Tower of London.

Dalrymple makes it clear that the history of the diamond prior to being captured by the Persian Nadu Shah is only based on guess work and fables. The author goes into the relationship the Indians have with gems including culture and religion. Dalrymple states that in ancient times the Indians sifted the diamonds from the sands of stream beds. All diamonds came from India until the 18th century when diamonds were discovered in Brazil.

The author states there were three great diamonds taken from the Mughal Emperor by the Persian Nadu Shah: the Koh-I-Noor is in England, the Darya-I-Noor is in Iran and the Orlov is in the center of the Imperial Scepter of Catherine the Great in Russia.

The second part of the book is written by journalist Anita Anand. She tells the story of King Duleep Singh. Anand sites the history of the diamond in the hands of the British. The author also discusses the characteristics of the diamond. It is thought the diamond came from the Kollur mine in Andhra Pradesh India in the 13th century. It was claimed to be 793 carets and 158.6g uncut and a clear color.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The authors tell the complicated story drawing on a wide range of literature and memoirs. Koh-I-Noor in Persian means Mountain of Light.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Leighton Pugh does a good job narrating the book. Pugh is an actor, voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

5 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • RD
  • 21-01-18

Dissapointing

Too many foreign words for this to be tolerable. Leighton Pugh did a great job of narrating.

0 of 2 people found this review helpful