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City of Victory: The Rise and Fall of Vijayanagara Kindle Edition
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1. The research of the author. Many people do not know that three dynasties ruled Vijayanagara. A Telugu man would not know the amount of Kannada literature that came out from Vijayanagara and Vice Versa. The author lists the books that were written by Telugu Poets, Kannada Poets, Tamil Poets and then he again categorizes them by discipline. Books on Advaita Philosophy, Dwaitha Philosophy, Visishtadwaitha Philosophy, Jainism, Veerasaivam, Music, Dance, Astronomy, Science, Mathematics and folklore all get a mention. Kudos to Ratnakar Garu for the research he has done.
2. The book describes the administrative policies of the Vijayanagara Kings very well. This section is a real value add.
3. Usually, books of this sort concentrate on the Empire they describe and its heroes. Here the author presents a good amount of research on the primary opponents to the empire too, The Bahamani Sultans.
4. I loved the unbiased approach of the author. He calls a spade a spade and gives the credit where it is due. He does not make heroes of villains out of the Vijayanagara Kings or for that matter the Bahamani Sultans based on his prejudices. He applauds the Vijayanagara Kings when needed and chides them when they err. He does the same with the Bahamanis too. That’s the USP of the book for me.
5. The Author spoke about the reasons why the empire lost in the battle of Tallikota. He shows us that the signs of decay were there for the people to see. The palace coups, the involvement of sultans in palace politics, nepotism of Aliya Rama Raya and some other grave errors of Vijayanagara Kings were well portrayed. I loved the inferences and insights the author provided.
6. For many people, 16th-century battle of Tallikota was the end of Vijayanagara, loved the fact that Ratnakar Garu traced it till the last ruler, who happened to come in the 17th century.
What did not like?
Tough to tell when I am reading a history book, but I shall try to make a point or two.
1. I read the Kindle version of the book, the pictures that were given were not up to the mark. Most of them are not legible. The Kindle version of the book needs a facelift.
2. We read till Sri Krishna Deva Raya and then read about administration, patronage to arts, etc. Till then, it was mostly about Kings and conquests. In my opinion, it would have been great to have a king, his conquests, policies, and patronage to arts in the same or say succeeding chapters. That would have been a chronological way of putting things.
One word: Must Read.
It is a great job by Ratankar garu, this sort of research and unbiased writing is hard to find. This is the 120th book review on this blog and I have reviewed very few books that are as good and as unbiased as this one. It does not matter whether you are a History buff or not this is a book that you must read. For, as a wise man said: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.”
'City of Victory' does a wonderful job of chronicling the empire that held the sway for almost two and a half centuries braving every odd. The author has researched the three main dynasties that ruled Vijayanagara. The dispassion with which the rise and fall of each dynasty are narrated makes it a valuable read. The author also managed to point out the strategic mistakes that led to the downfall of this great empire. One still can't help feeling emotional and overwhelmed towards the end of the book.
A must-read for history enthusiasts
Historical novels can bog us down with needless details & drag endlessly but this book, though not scholarly, gives a lot of information to pique the interest of the common reader who can use this as a framework to study details of the individual events, kingdom politics, trade, social structure and the best part of them all: the continuous quasi-religious wars between vijayanagara & bahmani empires. Description of major battles could have been expanded but it is understandable why he hasn't done so.
A fine effort.
P.S: His twitter TL is one treasure trove of information: twitter.com/gabbarsanghi
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