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The Fall of the Mughal Empire - Vol. 1-4 Paperback – 2007
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The set of four books covers the period from the death of Aurangzed ('Aurangzib' in the books) till about fall of the Maratha empire. Completed reading of first two of the four part series. The author is very detailed in his analysis quoting relevant historical sources for all the information contained in the book. however the book (book 1) in itself makes for a slightly dull reading (for people who have no background of history academically) as it covers a period full of characters we are totally unfamiliar with. After a while it becomes difficult to place the characters in their actual historical context as the book covers many locations (of the Mughal empire and the expanding Maratha empire/feudatories), characters and lengthy period. Book 2 is very interesting as it contains a detailed description of the third battle of Panipat with the author even analysing the planning and preparation of both the opposing forces and reasons why the invading forces ultimately succeeded. All in all a very good book series for people with history as a background academically and interested in Mughal affairs.
This book covers part of the gap from 1739 to 1803. Nadir Shah invaded Delhi in 1739, and brought the great Moghul emperor, Mohammad Shah to his knees. This was a formal announcement of the waning power of the Moghul dynasty, which had been on the decline since the death of Aurangzeb. The book ends in 1803, by when the British had replaced the Moghuls. It also covers the interesting period when the Marathas were in the ascendant, though in the end they failed to consolidate their power.
The book is written in a simple style, and focuses on the political and military history, a kind of traditional view of history, which is so rare now. There is a great deal of detail, with each key player having been covered in a satisfactory manner. To a person living in Delhi, most of this history is within touching distance, and very real. For instance, once you have read this book, you will see Safdarjung Enclave in a different light. When you travel across North India, you will be reminded again and again of the battles which were fought, and go over those scenes in your mind. For that is the power of Sir Jadunath Sarkar's writing - real history written so that it reads like engrossing fiction.
There is a lot to learn about power, deceit, treachery, loyalty in this book. Many of these emotions and power plays recur every day in Delhi, a city which according to legends goes back some 5,000 years.
There are some interesting nuggets, and surprises. For instance, Muhammad Shah 'Rangeela' comes across as much more humane, and real. He voluntarily gave himself up to Nadir Shah as a hostage, in order to save his people in Delhi from being butchered. We were always told that Muhammad Shah was interested only in wine and women - perhaps, but Jadunath Sarkar also shows us his other, more positive side, along with the failings.
Similarly, we get to see Safdarjung's positive and negative sides, both. Sir Jadunath Sarkar writes like a historian of the old school, trying to draw political and military lessons, from history, but also telling us a lot about human drama, and how we deal with life.
This book, written almost 75 years ago, has been out of print for some time. The book is now (2007) available in India as a four-volume paperback set, published by Orient Longman, Delhi for Rs.1195.
A must-buy if you like a good story and are interested in Moghul or Indian history. People interested in buildings from the Moghul period will also find much fascinating detail here.
I am a bit disappointed with the title of the book. I had assumed that when the title reads Vol 1 - 4, the price of INR 1595 (approx) will be for all the four volumes. I was disappointed to note it is only the last volume and not all the four series. Next time, I will not be a blind loyalist and read the description, end to end. #FeelFoolish
Yet,there is something to be said.The period covered in the 4 volume work and the quality and integrity of writing,makes it immensely relevant to present day India.This is not a dead past to be allowed to gather dust in archives or libraries.To know the present,an understanding of the past is essential.And this work is the study of the period immediately preceding the establishment of the British rule.Mysteriously this period disappears from text books.Jadunath Sarkar's work deserves compulsory reading by both Indian nationalists and also Hindu nationalists who keep harping on their starry-eyed notions of the pre-British India.
The one complaint about this book is:I feel the author seems to rush across various topics and consequently not giving adequate treatment for some important subjects.For example,he doesn't seem to criticize Sada Shiv Rao Bhao,the supreme commander of the ill fated Maratha army at the third battle of Panipat,for the Maratha debacle,though Jadunath Sarkar lavishes criticism and praise for various characters that he has to write about.
But undoubtedly a great author,the likes of whom are impossible to find today.
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