- Paperback: 555 pages
- Publisher: Penguin India; New edition edition (17 September 2007)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141001437
- ISBN-13: 978-0141001432
- Product Dimensions: 29 x 20 x 3 cm
- Average Customer Review: 14 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,00,600 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Emperors of the Peacock Throne Paperback – 17 Sep 2007
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A stirring account of one of the world's greatest empires In December 1525, Zahir-ud-din Babur, descended from Chengiz Khan and Timur Lenk, crossed the Indus river into the Punjab with a modest army and some cannon. At Panipat, five months later, he fought the most important battle of his life and routed the mammoth army of Sultan Ibrahim Lodi, the Afghan ruler of Hindustan. Mughal rule in India had begun. It was to continue for over three centuries, shaping India for all time. In this definitive biography of the great Mughals, Abraham Eraly reclaims the right to set down history as a chronicle of flesh-and-blood people. Bringing to his task the objectivity of a scholar and the high imagination of a master storyteller, he recreates the lives of Babur, the intrepid pioneer; the dreamer Humayun; Akbar, the greatest and most enigmatic of the Mughals; the aesthetes Jehangir and Shah Jahan; and the dour and determined Aurangzeb.
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I liked the way he has structured the book by each individual king, and within each king's life he has broken it down by important events. Each of these are more or less self-sufficient units, so you will get a pretty good sense of the Marathas' insurgency during Aurangzeb's time if you just read that part of the book. In each unit, Eraly gives the history, the context, and any critical historical links. The reader might see some repetitions, but it really helps from a readability standpoint, as one does not need to refer back repeatedly.
From an information standpoint - as an Indian, we might have read parts of these stories in our school - but Eraly brings the pieces together so well, that sometimes our perception of Emperor changes from what we read in school. For instance, Sher Shah Suri's reforms and administration were remarkable for the age, and so well thought through, but I never really knew a lot about him except for the Grand Trunk Road built by him. Similarly, Shahjahan comes across as much more devious and violent than the general perception of an love-lorn old man gazing wistfully at the Taj, he wasn't a shrinking violet when it came to anti-hindu activities, and cold-blooded murder. And Jehangir as an opium-addled man, who is under the thumb of his wife and brother-in-law, comes across as a romantic tragic.
Finally, what good would be a history yarn without the wars - and Eraly gives detailed views on the wars and how they were won or lost. I especially liked the battle of Panipat's description of the war tactics and artillery barrage that Babur used to win. The other war of succession (which when described by Eraly seems to be a turning point in India's history) is the defeat of Dara Shikoh by Aurangzeb is wonderfully detailed, where you feel like a viewer following the armies maneuvering across the North and Central parts of India.
Hope you enjoy it as much as I did!
The grandeur of the period has successfully been depicted in this book.
Similar to The Wonder That Was India - Part II
Could be safely recommended to the persons interested in India's past
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