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Koh-i-Noor  By  cover art

Koh-i-Noor

By: Anita Anand,William Dalrymple
Narrated by: Leighton Pugh
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Publisher's summary

The first comprehensive and authoritative history of the Koh-i Noor, arguably the most celebrated and mythologised jewel in the world, from the internationally acclaimed and best-selling historians William Dalrymple and Anita Anand.

On 29 March 1849, the 10-year-old Maharajah of the Punjab was ushered into the magnificent Mirrored Hall at the centre of the great Fort in Lahore. There, in a public ceremony, the frightened but dignified child handed over to the British East India Company in a formal act of submission not only swathes of the richest land in India but also arguably the single most valuable object in the subcontinent: the celebrated Koh-i-Noor diamond. The Mountain of Light.

Under commission from the British East India Company, gossip from Delhi bazaars was woven into what would become the accepted history of the Koh-i-Noor. Now, for the first time, 150 years after it was written, this version is finally challenged, freeing the diamond from the fog of mythology which has clung to it for so long. The resulting history is one of greed, conquest, murder, torture, colonialism and appropriation through an impressive slice of South and Central Asian history. Masterly, powerful and erudite, this is history at its most compelling and invigorating.

©2017 Bloomsbury (P)2017 Audible, Ltd
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Koh-i-Noor

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Fascinating

This book is divided into two parts. The first part is written by William Dalrymple, who is an authority on 18th and 19th century India. He tells the story of the Koh-I-Noor diamond from the time Persian Nadu Shah humiliated the Mughal Emperor, sacked Delhi and sized the diamond, the Peacock throne and other jewels. The Mughal Dynasty was of Turkic-Mongol origin and ruled most of Northern India from 16th to mid-18th century. The Shah was murdered and the Afghan King took the diamond. It was then taken by the Sikhs under Ranjit Singh. When the British conquered the Punjab in 1846, the ten-year-old King Duleep Singh gave it to Queen Victoria. It is now in the Tower of London.

Dalrymple makes it clear that the history of the diamond prior to being captured by the Persian Nadu Shah is only based on guess work and fables. The author goes into the relationship the Indians have with gems including culture and religion. Dalrymple states that in ancient times the Indians sifted the diamonds from the sands of stream beds. All diamonds came from India until the 18th century when diamonds were discovered in Brazil.

The author states there were three great diamonds taken from the Mughal Emperor by the Persian Nadu Shah: the Koh-I-Noor is in England, the Darya-I-Noor is in Iran and the Orlov is in the center of the Imperial Scepter of Catherine the Great in Russia.

The second part of the book is written by journalist Anita Anand. She tells the story of King Duleep Singh. Anand sites the history of the diamond in the hands of the British. The author also discusses the characteristics of the diamond. It is thought the diamond came from the Kollur mine in Andhra Pradesh India in the 13th century. It was claimed to be 793 carets and 158.6g uncut and a clear color.

The book is well written and meticulously researched. The authors tell the complicated story drawing on a wide range of literature and memoirs. Koh-I-Noor in Persian means Mountain of Light.

I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. Leighton Pugh does a good job narrating the book. Pugh is an actor, voice over artist and audiobook narrator.

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8 people found this helpful

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Fascinating book

I’m a fan of both William Dalrymple and Anita Anand so I was predisposed to like this book. But although the narrator was clear and well spoken, he mispronounced a lot of names ... particularly non-Anglo ones, which is a shame in a book about colonialism ...

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Marred by some stupid post colonial guilt tripping at the end

A good story but the nod to idiotic post colonial guilt tripping at the end could have been passed over. Nothing easier than for stupid politicians, media personalities etc to self promote by moaning over some past tribal grievance. Charles Macdonald Fraser’s Flashman would have had a more sensible attitude- the damned thing had been pinched so many times before one more makes no difference.

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Sparkling and comprehensive

Koh-i-noor - The History of the World's Most Infamous Diamond by William Dalrymple and Anita Anand

171 years ago this month, the British Raj under Queen Victoria took the world's most sought after 105 carat diamond which was the size of half an egg, from the 10-year old Sikh emperor of Punjab, Maharaja Duleep Singh.

From the Peacock Throne of the Mughals, to the bracelets of Nadir Shah and Ranjit Singh, and finally to the crown of Queen Victoria, this small but precious inanimate object has travelled the world, adorned thrones, been hidden in cracks in prison walls, displayed with pride, and disappeared mysteriously.

Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Great Britain, all claim ownership and this seemingly harmless piece of stone looks on almost smilingly as Muslims, Sikhs, Hindus, and Christians alike keep hacking at ways to get it for themselves.

The Koh-i-noor, believed to be cursed, has left wars, murders, cruel decapitations, capture, and plunder in its wake. It's owners have been brought to the streets and left to die alone, been killed by cholera, have been assassinated by their own family, or died in captivity. It might do us all well to revisit and ask ourselves if it the stone that's cursed, or human desire.

This book was a good narration of the diamond's sparkling history and bedazzling journey.

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Remarkable story

The entire history of the Kohinoor has been written in a great storytelling manner that moves one's imagination. Brilliant in it's flow and oration.

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Koh-I-noor

Well-written. Enjoyable to listen too. It’s clear to me that this diamond should be returned to the Goddess it was stolen from.

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Only one complaint

It was really hard as an Indian to listen to a "performer" mispronounce common Indian terms from that period. Apparently Audible could not find a single Indian to narrate this book. Too bad. Fascinating content though.

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  • RD
  • 01-21-18

Dissapointing

Too many foreign words for this to be tolerable. Leighton Pugh did a great job of narrating.

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