‘Dalrymple’s India is as vivid as Naipaul’s’ Simon Jenkins, The Times
White Mughals is the romantic and ultimately tragic tale of a passionate love affair that transcended all the cultural, religious and political boundaries of its time.
James Achilles Kirkpatrick was the British Resident at the court of Hyderabad when he met Khair un-Nissa – ‘Most Excellent among Women’ – the great niece of the Prime Minister of Hyderabad. He fell in love with her and overcame many obstacles to marry her, converting to Islam and according to Indian sources becoming a double-agent working against the East India Company.
It is a remarkable story, involving secret assignations, court intrigue, harem politics, religious and family disputes. But such things were
not unknown; from the early sixteenth century, when the Inquisition banned the Portuguese in Goa from wearing the dhoti, to the eve of the Indian Mutiny, the ‘white Mughals’ who wore local dress and adopted Indian ways were a source of embarrassment to successive colonial administrations. William Dalrymple unearths such colourful figures as ‘Hindoo Stuart’, who travelled with his own team of Brahmins to maintain his templeful of idols; and Sir David Ochterlony, who took all thirteen of his Indian wives out for evening promenades, each on the back of their own elephant.
In White Mughals, William Dalrymple discovers a world almost entirely unexplored by history, and places at its centre a compelling tale of seduction and betrayal. The product of five years’ writing and research, triumphantly confirms Dalrymple’s reputation as one of the finest writers at work today.
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William Dalrymple's White Mughals is destined to become one of the great non-fictional classics of Anglo-Indian history. Dalrymple is steeped in India, having lived there for six years, and written a series of remarkable travel books chronicling its past and present, including City of Djinns and The Age of Kali. Having already earned comparisons with great travel writers like Chatwin and Theroux, Dalrymple has now produced a meticulously researched and beautifully written historical narrative on one of the most colourful but neglected aspects of British colonial rule in India.
Set in and around Hyderabad at the beginning of the nineteenth century, White Mughals tells the story of the improbably romantic love affair and marriage between James Achilles Kirkpatrick, a rising star in the East India Company, and Khair-un-Nisa, a Hyderabadi princess. Pursuing Kirkpatrick's passionate affair through the archives across the continents, Dalrymple unveils a fascinating story of intrigue and love that breaches the conventional boundaries of empire. As Kirkpatrick gradually goes native (adopting local clothes and enduring circumcision) he becomes a secret agent working for his wife's royal family against the English, as he tries to balance the interests of both cultures.
However, White Mughals is by no means just an exotic love story. It is a vehicle for Dalrymple's understanding of the complex legacy of the English Empire in India, that he defines more in terms of exchange and negotiation than dominance and subjugation. It is a powerful and moving plea by Dalrymple to understand the cultural intermingling and hybridity that defines both eastern and western cultures, and a convincing rejection of religious intolerance and ethnic essentialism. Elegantly written and at a pace that belies its length, White Mughals confirms Dalrymple's status as one of the most important non-fiction writers of his time. -–Jerry BrottonReview:
‘My favourite English book of the year, [an]
irresistible masterpiece’ Philip Mansel, Spectator Books of the Year
‘A remarkable achievement: illuminating, thought-
provoking, moving – and entertaining’ David Goodall, Tablet
‘A bravura display of scholarship, writing and insight. Dalrymple manages the incredible feat of outpointing most historians and most novelists in one go. This is quite simply a stunning achievement’ Frank McLynn, Independent on
‘Gorgeous, spellbinding and important, [a] tapestry of magnificent set-pieces’ Miranda Seymour, Sunday Times
‘Enthralling…brilliant, as exhaustively researched as it is brilliantly written’ Saul David, Mail on Sunday
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Book Description HarperCollins. Hardcover. Book Condition: Brand New. In Stock. Bookseller Inventory # zk0002256762
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Bookseller Inventory # DADAX0002256762
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. book. Bookseller Inventory # 0002256762
Book Description HarperCollins Publishers Ltd, 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Gift quality, in mylar. Clean, unmarked pages. Good binding and cover. Hardcover and dust jacket. Ships daily. Bookseller Inventory # 81256845