Koh-I-Noor

Koh-I-Noor : The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond

4.02 (1,555 ratings by Goodreads)
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From the internationally acclaimed and bestselling historians William Dalrymple and Anita Anand, the first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, arguably the most celebrated jewel in the world.

On March 29, 1849, the ten-year-old leader of the Sikh kingdom of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the center of the British fort in Lahore, India. There, in a formal Act of Submission, the frightened but dignified child handed over to the British East India Company swathes of the richest land in India and the single most valuable object in the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond, otherwise known as the Mountain of Light. To celebrate the acquisition, the British East India Company commissioned a history of the diamond woven together from the gossip of the Delhi Bazaars. From that moment forward, the Koh-i-Noor became the most famous and mythological diamond in history, with thousands of people coming to see it at the 1851 Great Exhibition and still more thousands repeating the largely fictitious account of its passage through history.

Using original eyewitness accounts and chronicles never before translated into English, Dalrymple and Anand trace the true history of the diamond and disperse the myths and fantastic tales that have long surrounded this awe-inspiring jewel. The resulting history of south and central Asia tells a true tale of greed, conquest, murder, torture, colonialism, and appropriation that shaped a continent and the Koh-i-Noor itself.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 352 pages
  • 150 x 216 x 28mm | 544g
  • New York
  • English
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 163557076X
  • 9781635570762
  • 541,789

Review quote

The diamond that now sparkles in the queen mother's crown is almost half the size of the original, but, as William Dalrymple and Anita Anand reveal in their lapidary book, its symbolic heft is as potent as ever. - The New York Times

Though not the biggest diamond in the world--it ranks only 90th--it is certainly the most significant, as William Dalrymple and Anita Anand document in 'Koh-i-Noor: The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond.' Stories of bad luck have clung to it, and its arrival in Britain in 1850 caused a rash of novels about cursed jewels, among them Benjamin Disraeli's 'Lothair' and Wilkie Collins's 'The Moonstone.' - Wall Street Journal

Riveting. Dalrymple and Anand present as evocative a rendering as the most enthralling bazaar storyteller while providing an astute and empathetic study of the historical landscape through which the diamond has made its troubled way . . . This highly readable and entertaining book . . . finally sets the record straight on the history of the Koh-i-Noor. - The Sunday Times

Dalrymple tracks its tortuous journey across the Indian subcontinent and Afghanistan to its arrival in the Punjabi treasury; Anand tells the subsequent story of British ownership. Their two narratives are neatly spliced and stylistically harmonious. ***** - Mail on Sunday

In this vivid history of one of the world's most celebrated gemstones, the Indian diamond known as the Koh-i-Noor, Anita Anand and William Dalrymple put an inventive twist on the old maxim. 'Follow the diamond, ' they realise, and it can lead into a dynamic, original and supremely readable history of empires. - The Guardian

A book must be good if it makes me buy tickets to revisit the tower of London, an expensive family day out that I've been putting off for decades. After finishing this history of the Koh-i-Noor diamond, however, I needed to set eyes on the great 'mountain of light' . . . Its journey from the soft sand of an Indian riverbed to the Crown Jewels in the Tower is extraordinary. William Dalrymple and Anita Anand have found previously ignored and untranslated Persian and Afghan sources to give us fresh information. - The Times

William Dalrymple and Anita Anand's well-researched Koh-i-Noor is the latest attempt to shake off the 'bazaar gossip' that surrounded this troublesome stone well before its first confirmed appearance at the court of the 17th-century Mughal emperor Shah Jahan . . . Dalrymple and Anand's tale is a writer's gift: gruesome and ceaselessly dramatic. - Daily Telegraph

The history of the many who have coveted the diamond is long and involved, full of wonder and awe, treachery and bloodshed. - The Observer

A lively, well-researched history of lust for wealth and power. - Kirkus Reviews

[Koh-i-Noor is] an eye-opening, informative, and entertainingly lurid narrative; the authors virtually revel in visceral details while highlighting the colonialism and appropriation so entwined with the diamond's history. - Publishers Weekly

Koh-i-Noor offers memorable tales of Indian courtly intrigue and violence, and explores the shifting fortunes of South Asian dynasties, the consolidation of British power in the subcontinent, and the British monarchy during and after Queen Victoria's reign. Dalyrmple and Anand connect us with the series of maharajahs and princes through whose hands and lands this mystique-laden and allegedly cursed gemstone successively passed en route to its current contentious resting place - Times Literary Supplement

Meticulously researched and brilliantly written book. In fewer than 300 quick-reading pages, Dalrymple and Anand bust myth after myth. Anita Anand skilfully traces how the British desperately prised it from the hands of its Indian possessors as their administration dominated north-west India. Subtly written with a fine sense of context. - BBC History Magazine

Dalrymple and Anand bring every stage of the Koh-i-Noor's turbulent past to life. It is an utterly fascinating story, revealing the nature of power through the history of one of its most potent symbols. - Literary Review

A much needed historical work, and a pleasure to read. Highly recommended. - Historical Novel Society

A master story-teller, whose special gift lies in the use of indigenous sources, so often neglected by imperial chroniclers. - Max Hastings, Sunday Times on RETURN OF A KING

Anita Anand's gripping book is a sad story of dispossession and dislocation . . . The story is fast-paced and thrilling . . . A noble book. - Daily Telegraph on SOPHIA: PRINCESS, SUFFRAGETTE AND REVOLUTIONARY

Magnificent . . . shames the simplistic efforts of previous writers. - Spectator on THE LAST MUGHAL
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About William Dalrymple

William Dalrymple wrote the highly acclaimed bestseller In Xanadu when he was just twenty-two. Since then, he has had seven more books published and won numerous awards for his writing, including the Sunday Times Young British Writer of the Year Award, the Duff Cooper Memorial Award, the Hemingway Prize and The Ryszard Kapuscinski Award for Literary Reportage. He lives with his wife and three children on a farm outside Delhi.

Anita Anand has been a radio and television journalist for over twenty years. On BBC television she has presented, among other shows, The Daily Politics, Heaven and Earth Show and Newsnight. She is currently the presenter of Any Answers on BBC Radio 4. Her first book, Sophia: Princess, Suffragette, Revolutionary, received widespread critical acclaim. She lives in London with her husband and two children.
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Rating details

1,555 ratings
4.02 out of 5 stars
5 29% (453)
4 48% (743)
3 20% (313)
2 2% (32)
1 1% (14)
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